My very first culinary competition was in 1994 here in Atlanta, Georgia, and I remember preparing a pan seared Atlantic salmon with roasted vegetables, turned potatoes and a simple beurre blanc (wine reduction/butter sauce). While I was completely overwhelmed with emotions, the fact that I was comfortable cooking under that level of pressure proved to me that I had a solid understanding of the fundamentals of cooking. What most people don’t realize is that pressure lives and breed in the kitchen. It’s as vital as using salt and pepper! Without pressure, there’s not a sense of urgency.
You become professionally stagnant, and your drive becomes complacent. Pressure can bury you; it can bring out the worst in a cook, suddenly, making simple things quite complicated. However, the only other influence that’s stronger than pressure is confidence… and the only way to gain confidence is by developing your skills. If you want to make the game winning shot, then it is essential that you work on your craft and embrace the importance of confidence.
Here are a few tips you can use to turn pressure into perfection in the kitchen:
Master Your Craft. You are a culinary artist. So fully immerse yourself into learning and perfecting the tools that will allow you to create the ultimate masterpiece under any circumstances!
Seek professional council. There’s always someone who had more knowledge and experience than you…so seek out their council and embrace constructive criticism.
Practice Your Craft. As mentioned, nothing is stronger than confidence…but culinary confidence is nurtured in the repetitive environment called the kitchen. So get in there and cook.
Become a Student. While practicing is essential, how one practice is extremely vital. Taking time to engage in research will help to understand the details and will generate greater results within a particular skill set or task.
Embrace Patience. It’s one thing to not know, but it’s a disgrace to do something poorly simply because one is impatient. Never attempt to do something simply because you can, respect the craft by doing things at the highest level. This is a long journey and it take years to perfect the art of cooking….so be patient but remain deligent!
Remember: there is no better way to conquer pressure in the kitchen is confidence in you ability! So keep working to master your craft!!