A Note from the Chef

Anyone who loves toasted English muffins knows that they taste so much better when split open with a fork rather then cut with a knife. They know that a smooth surface doesn’t have the nooks and crannies, so perfect for holding melted butter. It’s the irregularities, the broken edges, that make it taste so good.

I think people are  a lot like split English muffins. No two are exactly alike and it’s our bumps that makes us better.

If we can approach self improvement with a sense of appreciation for our imperfections, rather than from a need to fix what’s broken, I think we have the opportunity for true transformation. I know that hating anything about myself or my circumstances has never made things better. How can anything good come from the energy of hate?

As a professional chef I’ve worked with all kinds of ingredients in all sorts of conditions. More often than not, I didn’t have everything I needed and at times, what I had, was less than perfect. I just had to make the best of it – even if it meant doing what I didn’t think I could – especially if that. As a training ground for self-improvement, the kitchen was perfect – for me.

I learned that a recipe is simply a guide, and it’s my interpretation that makes it my own.

I know that if I mess up a meal, I can start over; that even a dish that’s delighted hundreds of diners sometimes needs a little tweaking.

I don’t judge the chicken for not being beef or broccoli for not being more like peas. I simply look at what I’ve got and make something good from it. “Self improvement is no different” says the Self to the chef.

The path to self improvement is always right in front of us, embedded in the twisted roadmap of our lives, with clues hidden in plain sight, waiting to be spotted. But they’re clever little devils. We can’t always see them with our eyes. And they’re never where we expect them.

Sometimes the sign is in a flat tire we get on the way to an important meeting; or a computer glitch just when we’re working on something critical. At times we don’t hear the message until we’re on our knees and at others…it only needs to whisper.

The other day the message caught me off-guard as I was pondering a situation in which I saw no way out. This was my state of mind as I headed to work only to find  – after backing out of my driveway  – that I literally had no way out.

The road was blocked by two men and a truck. One was high in the trees, in a bucket, lowering a big, dead branch to the man on the ground. I called out and within minutes the crane folded itself into the truck, the man in the bucket climbed out and moved the truck off to the side to let me pass.

Sometimes moving forward is as easy as stepping aside, and the message comes clearly, armed with a sense of humor.

May you tweak what needs it and remember to laugh.


Chef Silvia

Photo courtesy of seriouseats.com

  1. Desiree East February 8, 2014 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Great analogy (or is it a metaphor?) – I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of gal, too. So much easier that way!

  2. Lacy February 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Mmm… Nooks and crannies! I’ve never tried to make English muffins, but I’ve always wanted to! Do you have a good recipe for a newbie?

    • chefsilvia February 11, 2014 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      Actually Lacy, I’ve never made them either. Maybe something I can try and test.

  3. Nathalie February 11, 2014 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Silvia, I just love this line: “I don’t judge the chicken for not being beef or broccoli for not being more like peas. I simply look at what I’ve got and make something good from it.” That is so true and THE way to go if you want to be happy and whole.

    • chefsilvia February 11, 2014 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      Nathalie, Thanks for noticing this line. It really puts judging in a simple perspective.

  4. claire February 11, 2014 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    I love the analogy Silvia. May we all continue to love all of our nooks, crannies and bumps and all! Yes, and as Lacy said above, will part 2 include recipes? maybe a GF version?

    • chefsilvia February 11, 2014 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks Claire. Glad you love this simple but clear analogy. Will have to work on an English muffin recipe. I honestly never thought of it until I’ve seen the request here.

  5. Erin Chumas February 12, 2014 at 4:35 am - Reply

    Silvia, this post is not only insightful but your writing is just beautiful. I especially related to this line: “…that even a dish that’s delighted hundreds of diners sometimes needs a little tweaking.” How true is that?! Whenever I present or perform my material, it’s different. It has to be. Presenting is a creature that takes on a life of its own… always shifting, tweaking, delighting some, and then again not others. But it’s all delicious- every nook and cranny. Love your style, Silvia!

    • chefsilvia February 13, 2014 at 6:06 pm - Reply

      Erin, You have no idea how wonderful it is to read your comment. I love writing and in some ways even more than cooking. So it gives me confidence when someone notices my writing…not just my recipes. Thank you so so much!

  6. Lana Shlafer February 12, 2014 at 4:55 am - Reply

    Love this post and can so agree with loving all the uneven parts because they make me ME! Acceptance and self-love are different than trying to fix what’s broken and as you point out, making the best of what you’ve got is frequently the key to success!

    • chefsilvia February 13, 2014 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      Lana, I know you truly get this my friend. It’s so interesting how we can put this message out there in our unique ways. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  7. Court February 12, 2014 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    The other day, my friend’s husband (who is a very good cook!), made home made english muffins. They were so completely gorgeous! Some of the best I have ever seen! But, yes, they still had those bumps. They were still completely unique. Just like each of us. Just like each day. Just like each situation. Thank you for sharing this one, Silvia, I always appreciate your perspective. And now I’m gonna go eat some home made mac & cheese that I made to get me through this snow day : )

    • chefsilvia February 13, 2014 at 6:10 pm - Reply

      Oh Court…now I have to try making English muffins from scratch! Thank you for your lovely perspective. Enjoy your mac n cheese. I just had a recipe for my homemade version go live on Mind Body Green! Seems like we’re all craving comfort food.

  8. Lily February 12, 2014 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    Best line of the post: “Sometimes moving forward is as easy as stepping aside”. Thanks for sharing, Silvia!

    • chefsilvia February 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      Thanks Lily. Interesting how different lines speak to different people.

  9. Shana February 13, 2014 at 6:19 am - Reply

    Brilliant, Silvia. So insightful! I love English Muffins, and I’ll never eat one again with out thinking about how mush better they are with those imperfections, nooks and crannies.Wonderful analogy.

    • chefsilvia February 13, 2014 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      Oh that’s too funny Shana. Thank you, as always for your beautiful comment.

  10. Joyce Oladipo February 20, 2014 at 2:20 am - Reply

    Silvia, I just love this article. Totally inspiring.

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