It seemed he hadn’t been out of the house for days: poring over lists of ingredients, making tiny but important adjustments to proportions and calculating the exact temperatures and time required to create the perfect recipe and the most efficient workflow had left him on edge. His brain hurt and his nerves were jangling. He looked in the mirror and was shocked at what he saw: he was bedraggled and his eyes were puffy from an unfortunate incident with a cayenne experiment gone awry. He sighed as he splashed water on his face. We live and learn.
It was time for “the talk” with his assistants. He walked out into the sun, blinked, winced at its harshness, and made his way to the kitchen that had been prepared meticulously. He dressed, ensuring he put his hairnet, hat and apron on correctly. Amateurs might cut corners on such things he thought to himself, but he was a professional, standards would be met.
His assistants had arrived. They looked nervous. He suspected they’d been trying some of the product – he knew exactly what quantities should be produced from the ingredients going in and he was confident his calculations were accurate. “Let’s get something straight,” the cook started, waving his hands dramatically around at the gleaming utensils, measuring cups, scales, thermometers. “This is my realm. I am in charge of the cooking. You got any issues with that?” “Whatever man,” said one of his helpers. The cook let it slide. He knew he had the upper hand. He lifted up a container of thick liquid. He’d been working through the night to make the perfect ketchup, a finely balanced mix of just the right spices, in just the right proportions. The result was rich, pungent: there was a point in the manufacturing process that he worried the neighbors would notice the heady aroma, but the ventilation system proved it could handle it. He knew the market had never experienced anything like it. “What is this?” the assistant inquired incredulously. “This is almost purple.” The cook tried to be patient: “I used a different process – it may be purple, but it’s the bomb.” “You’re an artist, this is art,” the assistant exclaimed. “Actually it’s just basic chemistry, but thank you. I’m glad it’s acceptable,” replied the cook. “Acceptable? You’re the Iron Chef! Every pie-head from here to Timbuktu is going to want a taste!”
“But you’ve promised a lot,” another assistant commented. “How are we going to get all the ingredients? You think the pastry fairy’s just gonna bring it to us? See, that’s the bottleneck in your brilliant business plan.” The cook responded: “We’re going to use a combination of short-crust and flaky: high-grade flour, butter, cider vinegar”. “No added MSG?” asked the assistant. The cook took a deep breath: “No added MSG. You and I will not make garbage. We will produce a pure and stable product that performs as advertised. No adulterants.”
“And what’s this?” the assistant asked. “That, is a shopping list,” said the cook. “Getting some of those items may be challenging,” the assistant replied dubiously. “Chives, oregano, paprika, cinnamon, thyme, I can’t even pronounce half of this…count me out, all right? I’m moving to Oregon or something.” The cook softened: “Listen to me. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. But what kind of life will it be? Will it be a life of fear, of ‘Oh, no, no, no. I can’t do this’, of never once believing in yourself? It’s going to be OK. Knowledge is power. Wanna cook?”