It’s Foodie Friday! With the new season of Top Chef in full swing, I thought I’d use something that happened on last night’s episode as our topic this week. If you’re a fan of the series and have not yet watched the latest episode, mild spoiler alert!
The chef who was eliminated last night made a dish that contained a corn and chorizo hash as an accompaniment to the protein, shrimp. When facing the judges, the question was raised why she chose to cook the corn. The judges thought that some crisp, cool corn would have complemented the shrimp, which was served outdoors (on a golf course!) in the heat. The chef’s reply was that the raw corn seemed overly starchy and she didn’t think it would have been any better raw than cooked. Her hope was that cooking would transform some of the starch. She was then asked the obvious question: why use the corn at all if you weren’t happy with the quality of the ingredient? Which raises our business point.
We often get handed inferior ingredients in business. These can range from the dead weight employee who is unmotivated and less skilled to the messy financial plan. The right answer isn’t always “let’s see what we can make out of this.” Sometimes we need to find different ingredients or change our initial plan for the ones we have. We get into trouble when we plow ahead, inflexible and wearing blinders. Markets change, consumer tastes change, and stuff happens. That doesn’t mean we should constantly be changing course, but it does mean that subtle adjustments are as much an ongoing part of business as tasting and seasoning is a constant part of cooking.
I rarely go to the market with a complete list. I like to see what looks good with a general plan in mind about what I feel like cooking. I try to approach business the same way – have a plan, but find the best ingredients and be ready to adjust. I mean, who wants to pack their knives and go based on a bad piece of corn?