January 7, 2015

6 Culinary New Year’s Resolutions

By: Ryan Hodros, Culinary Arts Student

This is the time of year when every blogger and their brother comes out with commentary on New Year’s resolutions.  If they’re not talking about how “stupid” they are, they’re giving advice on what resolutions you should choose, or how you go about completing common ones.

I prefer to think of resolutions as a way to mix things up and refresh my outlook on life by doing new and interesting things.  As culinary professionals, we’re more prone to ruts than a lot of professions, and so these are my tips for us to hit the refresh button on life.

Photo by Ryan Hodros

 

6.  Learn a New Technique

It’s really easy to get into a culinary rut.  “I do <insert food style> at the restaurant, so that’s what I’m good at.”  This can easily turn into a sort of nameless dread at the prospect of making something outside your wheelhouse.  So in your spare time, dedicate yourself to mastering a technique you’re not as familiar with.  If you’re the grill man, learn to sauté.  If you’re a fan of making Asian Cuisine, buy a Russian cookbook and go to town.  Go out of your way to learn more just to wake yourself up and get out of the rut that may be making your life boring.  And you’ll make the time to practice this new skill during your week, because you’re going to…

Chocolate Cake

5.  Cook For Yourself More Often

For anyone not in the industry, it’s kind of a running gag amongst chefs that they make amazing food for guests and eat garbage themselves.  When you think about it, this makes sense—if you spend ten hours in a kitchen cooking every day, the last thing you want to do when you get home is fire up the stove.  Home cooking is different than commercial cooking however, so try to set aside time to make something delicious and/or healthy for yourself at least once per week.  At the risk of sounding all hippy-dippy, love yourself and your body and mind will thank you for it.  This will prepare you for when you finally…

Pumpkin Soup

4.  Travel Somewhere New

Don’t roll your eyes at this entry!  I’m not suggesting you Anthony Bourdain your way to Singapore and spend the week running your credit cards through the roof in the name of “exploration” or whatever.  I simply mean, get in your car and drive someplace you’ve never been.  That’s easy for me because I’m new to Colorado, but don’t tell me there isn’t someplace less than five hours away that you’ve never been to.  If you can afford to fly and have some vacation days coming your way, great!  But it doesn’t have to be crazy exotic—just some new scenery for your eyes to feast on, while you feast because your plans will get you to…

Ryan and wife

3.  Try a New Cuisine

A lot of people (myself included) struggle with this one for a variety of reasons.  New cuisines can be scary or intimidating, hard to find if you’ve been around the block a few times, or even uninteresting.  But make it a point to try a kind of food you’ve never had before, even if you don’t think it’s all that special.  I’ve had Texas barbecue and I’ve had SoCal Mexican, but when Tressa and I were driving through Oklahoma two years ago, I had TexMex for the first time and it was amazing!  So don’t limit yourself to far-out exotic foods—just try something different to wake your palate and get you out there trying new stuff.  Because a lot of chefs really should…

Spring Rolls

2.  Get Out More

We’re all familiar with the career rut—work, bar, home, repeat.  Chefs are prone to this more than most because kitchen work is so exhausting, both physically and emotionally.  It’s really easy to find the world shrinking to the same three places (or less) and let that cycle pull you down into a funk that ruins the fun in your life.  Yes, it’s tempting to stay in your PJs and binge watch Game of Thrones on your day off, but make the effort to go out and see the world.  We live in Colorado, go absorb the scenery, hike the trails, watch a fire juggler on Pearl St., catch a movie, do whatever.  Just break that cycle!  Which you can make happy by forcing yourself to…

Steak and asparagus

1.  Do Something Besides Cook

We all love cooking—that’s why I write for Escoffier and why you’re on this website reading my work.  We feel most at home in the kitchen elbow deep in an edible project.  But nobody has ONLY one interest.  Find a hobby that will: a. get your head out of the kitchen for a while, b. doesn’t cause you stress, and c. makes you happy.  I cook and write professionally, but I’m getting back into movies and video games, and I think 2015 is going to be the year I get back into comic books and exercise.   Find something you don’t need a toque for and throw yourself into that every now and again.  Refresh your brain!

You may have guessed that these are six of my person resolutions, and I’m excited to get to work on some of them.  What are your resolutions for this year?  Tweet me some of them for a possible follow-up to this article, or just let me know what you hope to accomplish this year!