Cooking Up Change: In the Kitchen With Daisy Martinez

August 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Chef Daisy Martinez

Photo Credit: JD Urban

Change is not easy.  Most of us will not set out to dramatically reinvent ourselves (or our products) by choice.  This goes for individuals and businesses.

Think about the people you know, including you, who would love to make a change.  What does it take to get to the gym, eat healthier, quit smoking, quit the detested job, go out on your own with the passion project, write the book?  The list goes on.

And, with the exception of Apple under the direction of Steve Jobs, who regularly conceived of and launched products with the potential to take a bite out of the sales of their predecessors (think: iPhone and iPod), and PayPal, led by current President David Marcus who is in the midst of radically remaking the online payment leader back into a tech startup from the slow-moving, risk-averse global financial institution it has become, very few organizations have the stomach for it either.  It’s too easy to stick with what’s working and worry about tomorrow, well, tomorrow.

Author Steven Pressfield recently published a piece written by his agent Shawn Coyne, “Stories Are About Change,” in which Mr. Coyne explores the extreme difficulty people experience when trying to change, oftentimes with tragic results. He suggests that the reason for the resistance is the risk of loss and associated anxiety experienced when one contemplates a change, even of something as seemingly simple as our chosen brand of toothpaste.

According to Mr. Coyne, what does seem to help is hearing the stories of others who have taken a risk and successfully made a change.  (There’s a reason The Biggest Loser is now casting Season 15).

Stories give us scripts to follow. It’s no different than young boys hearing the story of how an orphan in Baltimore dedicated himself to the love of a game and ended up the greatest baseball player of all time. If George Herman Ruth could find his life’s work and succeed from such humble origins, then maybe they could became big league ball players too.

We need stories to temper our anxieties, either as supporting messages to stay as we are or inspiring road maps to get us to take a chance. Experiencing stories that tell the tale of protagonists for whom we can empathize gives us the courage to examine our own lives and change them.

Which leads me to Chef Daisy Martinez.  She has a great story.

If you’re a fan of cooking shows, whether they be on PBS or the Food Network, you may have heard of Daisy – she has series still running on both.

Chef Daisy Martinez has had many incarnations.  She started her career as a model and actress; left those careers behind to devote her time to her family; then went on to attend ” the French Culinary Institute; was a prep- kitchen chef for her long time mentor, chef and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich; worked as a private chef in New York City; owned a small, boutique catering business called The Passionate Palate; starred in PBS’s Daisy Cooks! and FoodTV’s Viva Daisy! and wrote three global-best-selling cookbooks.”  Nice life.

But, as Daisy says in “Episode 1: Chicken Wing Therapy,” of her new web series, Daisy, the kitchen of life tossed her some changes her way: her four children grew up and moved out of the house; she began the painful process of working through of a divorce from her husband of many years; and, with food preparation being given the reality television treatment with the advent of Food Network stars, she found herself without demand for new episodes of her series. Scary stuff, with risk baked in.

What’s a cook to do?  Take to her bed.  Or whip up a new act.  This one by her own design (okay, recipe).  One that capitalizes on the rise of Latino population and the proliferation of Latin cuisine as something more than “rice and beans.” One that uses her newly acquired sommelier certification to create pairings, as readily as one would with French or Italian dishes.  One that uses her emotional connection to food and its preparation to get through the change and come out the other end, happy and in control of her gifts and work.

Perhaps in doing so, Chef Daisy Martinez will provide one of those stories that empowers and inspires the rest of us to change, maybe even without “the other shoe having to drop.”  With Daisy, she’s giving us a front row seat.

Here is “Episode 2: Potatoes & Tigers & Crepes, Oh My!”, filmed earlier this month at her summer cooking school at Whitehead Light Station in Maine .  I want to be in the kitchen with Daisy!  This is Daisy 4.0.

Watch, cook, eat, enjoy.


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