Chef Adam Weiner highlights his favorite quotes on what is means to be a culinary instructor and general life principles.
By Adam Weiner, CFSE
Before I pick up with the promised article on quotes, I wanted to offer you help with your New Year’s resolution. Feel free to look at either of the two articles I have published on CAFÉ on losing weight as a culinary arts instructor: Make a Resolution to Lose Weight and Mindful Eating.
I ended 2017 with an article on quotes about life in a professional kitchen and advice for students. I am starting 2018 with a column about quotes on life as a culinary instructor and general advice for you and your students.
What it Takes and Means to be a Culinary Instructor
"The power and the madness of Alice Waters is that she operates outside of the reality-based system most of us use. She has a way of demanding things that seemingly can't be done, then imploring people to help make whatever unlikely event she is dreaming of happen because it is simply the best way to do it."
Kim Severson, Spoon Fed, page 72
(I recommend you insert your name in place of ‘Alice Waters’ and then accomplish what people say is impossible.)
"You're not very subtle, but you are effective."
From Rick to Renault from the movie “Casablanca”
“Passing knowledge on to students is just a part of what the finest teachers do—the best are those who influence their students’ social and emotional development as well as their self-confidence.”
Cal. State University of Fullerton, Titan Magazine, Summer 2008
“Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theatre.”
-- Gail Godwin
“The essence of becoming a great chef is becoming a great teacher.”
Chef Gordon Ramsey on Food Network’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” June 10, 2008
(Who thought I would get a teaching quote from that show?)
“I can’t take on any more projects right now. My students and I are up to our apron strings in alligators.”
Chef Adam Weiner, June 1, 2009, when asked to add a sixth catering event in three days
“It was a good day. No one died and nothing got burnt.”
Student of Chef Adam Weiner, August 9, 2012
“Now, I’m obligated to keep my profession going by teaching and giving. I can’t give up and . . . I can’t goof up.”
Joe Eidem, director of food and nutrition services, Renown Regional Medical Center, upon receiving the American Culinary Professionalism Award
"I do dinner in three phases. Serve the food, clear the table, bury the dead.”
--Phyllis Diller (1917-2012)
“Each one, teach one. I want to believe that I am here to teach one and, more, that there is one here who is meant to teach me. And if we each one teach one, we will make a difference.”
Page 248 of “Yes, Chef” by Marcus Samuelsson
"The goal of education is to make windows into mirrors, and mirrors into windows."
Student Speech, 8th Grade Graduation, St. Gregory's, June 3, 2011
This is a man who thinks with his heart,
His heart is not always wise.
But this is a man who tries.
"Something Wonderful" from the musical The King and I.
(We might not always succeed as instructors but we always have to try.)
"It's my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that's enough reason to go for me
It's my job to be better than the rest
And that makes a day for me."
Jimmy Buffet, "It's My Job" from Coconut Telegraph
Quotes on Life in General for Students and Teachers
“People can make claims about how to navigate personal turmoil….I only have one piece of advice, and I can lend it to you with full knowledge that it served me well. Don’t stop and don’t give up.”
Scott Benner, “Life Is Short, Laundry is Eternal,” page 185
“Sacrifice a little something. Don’t just live. Live for a purpose bigger than yourself. Be an asset to your family, community, and country.”
Epilogue of “No Easy Day” by Mark Owen
“What is life but a series of inspired follies?”
“Think of other people’s futures, but never your own.”
Two separate quotes from Act One of “Pygmalion,” both by Professor Henry Higgins
“It’s one thing to go to work to pick up a pay check. It’s another to go to work to become a blessing to somebody.”
“Become a Better You,” by Joel Osteen
"Remember each morning when you get up to try and do everything just a little bit better than you did it the day before."
Professor David Jones, culinary arts instructor, Laney College, November 23, 2009
“Let’s not say anything! Let’s just cook.”
Queen Latifah as Georgia Byrd in the movie “Last Holiday”
When you think that you aren’t capable of doing something, take a look at Rachel Ray:
"I have no formal anything," she said. "I'm completely unqualified for any job I've ever had."
Rachel Ray, quoted by Kim Severson from “Spoon Fed,” page 199
"What a waste of time, all the measuring myself against other people. The only ruler that matters is the one I pull out at the end of the day. Did I do my best? Did I tell the truth? Was I helpful to my fellows? And, did I make something good to eat?"
“Spoon Fed” by Kim Severson, page 115
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by allure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
A quote on the outside of a to go container from a local restaurant.
“In the time we have it is surely our duty to do all the good we can to all the people we can in all the ways we can.”
"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."
--Sir Winston Churchill
"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."
-- Alexander Graham Bell
"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that's where you will find success."
-- Thomas J. Watson, first CEO of IBM (International Business Machines)
And, finally I close with my favorite quote from any category. A bit of background is needed here. Remember the fourth quote above by Gail Godwin about teaching being three-fourths theater? Well, I am known for being more than a bit exuberant in my classroom theatrics. My antics to communicate with my students are legendary. I also take chances with students that most people would say is nothing short of crazy.
For example, in an open-to-the-public restaurant previously run by JobTrain, I once put a young women on the expediter position on her first day. I knew that she had been diagnosed with severe learning and development issues and was told she would never function independently. Within 20 minutes she was expediting so effectively I left helping her at the station. Her mom was in the restaurant watching and cried. That student completed my program, got a driver’s license at the age 21, got married, and has her own life. It seems that everyone just assumed she couldn’t do things on her own and treated her that way. I took a crazy chance and it paid off.
On my 50th birthday, my wife gave me a book “Don’t Try This At Home” by Witherspoon and Freidman. (I highly recommend the book, but if ordering online be careful. There are several books with the same title.) Inside was a note saying she was taking me on a surprise trip to New Orleans.
I started reading the book on the airplane. The book is a description of the blow-ups, follies, and disasters by the world’s most famous chefs written by the chefs themselves. I only made it to page 14 before I found the best quote in the world to describe me. I started laughing and pointed out the quote to my wife who started laughing. We both kept laughing so hard that tears came streaming down our faces that the flight attendant came to see about the commotion. Now, although I am not anywhere near the culinary icon of Chef David Bouley, I still chuckle at how this is the perfect description of my teaching:
“The qualities that mark Chef as a lunatic-genius are his absolute fearlessness, and his profound, unabashed enjoyment of his own strangeness. That’s the sort of dementia these (student) cooks respect, and perhaps even share.”
Chef Dan Barber describing Chef David Bouley from page 14 of “Don’t Try This At Home”
Chef Adam Weiner, CFSE, teaches a 20-week Introduction to Cooking program for JobTrain on the San Francisco Peninsula, and is a frequent presenter at CAFÉ events throughout the nation. He is also a recipient of the prestigious Antonin Carême Medal.