I went to make dinner the other night and was scouring the refrigerator for inspiration.
Chopped (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Eggplant, chicken thighs, some leftover San Marzano tomatoes were what greeted me. What would you have made? I did a chicken/eggplant curry – it took all of 25 minutes and was delicious. I thought about that as a topic for our Foodie Friday Fun and was reminded again about it as I watched “Chopped” on the Food Network. That show is a cooking competition where the chefs are given a basket of ingredients and told to make something using all the ingredients in the basket, generally in 30 minutes or less. The twist is that there’s always something in the basket that doesn’t go with everything else – flounder, lemons, capers, and olive loaf, for example. Perfect for business thinking, right?
The key to being successful in this sort of improvisational cooking is to step back and think more broadly – and very differently – about the ingredients. Olive loaf as a seasoning, for example, and not as a protein. It’s how successful companies think about their businesses. The iPhone wasn’t thought about as a phone per se but as a communication device with the Internet as an important form of communication. I suspect it was thought of in an even more broadly way – a handheld computer with voice connectivity, perhaps.
We live in a non-linear world these days. Thinking in straight lines may move us forward but it may mean we’re missing some fantastic opportunities. You might think of your company as being in the tech business. Maybe you need to focus on being in a solutions business. How does that change how your technology performs or is designed? The folks in sports realize they’re in the entertainment business – that opens up many new challenges but a ton of new opportunities.
I like Chopped. Improvising solutions under pressure with seemingly incompatible ingredients is what business today is all about. It’s inspirational to me. You?
Our food theme today is getting one’s hands dirty. I thought about this last night as I was watching “Chef Hunter” on The Food Network, a show I really like. Basically, it’s a job interview for two chefs who want to run a restaurant. Each chef is given the run of the kitchen for a service and the management evaluates how well they manage the kitchen, the menu, and their food costs. The chefs also create some special items for the day and the caliber of their cooking is part of the equation.
In last evening’s show, which took place in Hawaii, one chef generated some interesting comments by the other members of the staff. The one that triggered my thought may be unfamiliar to you, as it was to me, but it points out an interesting business lesson: the chef had a high maka maka attitude. Continue reading
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The end of a long week so a business thought related to food. Actually, it’s related to the food business, and it comes from Jacques Pepin. Chef Pepin is one of my culinary heroes, and his TV work, both solo and the series he did with Julia Child, ranks in my mind as some of the best cooking programming ever done. He was one of the first “celebrity chefs” – after he had put in 30 years in the kitchen. He kind of built the mold – successful restaurant career, TV, books – that many of the folks you see on The Food Network are trying to follow but he actually paid his dues.
Jacques Pepin is very different from many of them and not just because he was a pioneer. Want to know why? It’s a great business point for us all. Continue reading
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As you probably know, one of my favorite TV channels is The Food Network and since it’s Friday, I want to focus on one of their programs for our Foodie Friday Fun. This is the seventh season of The Next Food Network Star which I think is a really interesting program for a number of reasons. The biggest name to emerge from the show is the past winner Guy Fieri, who has become a star on NBC (Minute To Win It) as well as on a number of food-related shows but a few of the other winners, and runners-up, have continued on The Food Network and help to prove that the process works. Can it work for you? Continue reading
It’s Friday! We’ve made it to the end of yet another snowy week so let’s turn to food. One of the sillier (in my opinion) shows on The Food Network is Dinner Impossible. It’s a race against the clock to shop for, cook, and serve a dinner under “impossible” time or other constraints. If it’s so impossible, how come they do it every episode?!?!?
In any event, this week I stumbled upon it (something else must have been in commercial) just as they were shopping. Part of the silliness is the inclusion of inexperienced or amateur cooks to help. One ingredient the chef desired was grits and they only had the instant kind at the market. The chef had sent an amateur to do the shopping, who called him to approve their purchase (which he did) and they moved on to cooking. That’s when we got the business reminder! Continue reading
Finally Friday! That’s the good news – more snow is the bad. We, however, will focus on food as is our custom to end the week.
There’s a show on the Food Network called Worst Cooks in America. The premise of the program is that 2 professional chefs teach incompetent amateur cooks basic culinary skills and if the amateurs don’t learn they get tossed off the show. Not that I’m a pro, but the contestants they brought to the program seem to have trouble making toast or peanut butter sandwiches. The show is fun even if one wants to feel a bit better about one’s own meager skills but it turns out there was a business lesson as well. Continue reading
We’ve made it to Friday and our food-themed post of the week and this time it’s about one of the seminal cooking shows Iron Chef. The first time I saw this show I was blown away. Yes, there was the whole dubbed kung-fu movie vibe but more than anything was just the notion of walking into a kitchen, being handed a theme, and having an hour to do your best work creating as many different dishes as you can cook. Frankly, the American version doesn’t hold a cleaver to the original from Japan although the cooking skills are just as impressive. The bonds between the two, besides the format and the references to “The Chairman”, are Masaharu Morimoto, a chef from the original show who has moved to the US and runs some very fine restaurants, and the ubiquitous Bobby Flay who actually was on the Japanese program twice (the first time to great controversy) and now is an American Iron Chef.
Oh, and me, of course. Continue reading
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