Anthony Bourdain's essay contest: "What does it mean to cook well?"

On the surface several things came to mind. Cooking well can mean to use fresh, natural ingredients, to season properly, to utilize proper kitchen tools.[image-1]

Then, brain lock happened.

This is a loaded question. What about the deeper meaning of to “cook well”? Here is where I became (temporarily) stuck. Does to cook well mean, that at 5 minutes to closing time at your restaurant and the ticket printer eeks out one last order for the nightly special, you present it with the same passion and care as you did the first order of the evening? Or does it mean to treat every ingredient that you use with equal love and attention, no matter how you feel about it personally, with only the customers' satisfaction in mind?

After struggling with this for days, over analyzing it and twisting it around in my head, here is what I came up with.

People are very passionate about the subjects of food and cooking as is evident in the other essay submissions. There are many well written, creative entries approaching this question from different angles, and I encourage anyone who is vehement for all things edible to submit an essay. As a new writer I can attest to the fact that you may very well surprise yourself. Take the question "what does it mean to cook well?", roll it around, savor it, explore it, and see what you come up with. Mr. Bourdain will have his work cut out for him when choosing a favorite, and I wish him the best of luck.

I have been a fan of Anthony Bourdain since reading "Kitchen Confidential" in 2000. At that time I was still fairly new to cooking for a living, having  just relocated to Michigan from New Orleans with some culinary arsenal to discharge. My mother presented me with this book after seeing Chef Bourdain on a late-night talk show. She thought I could find inspiration in the memoirs of a seasoned veteran, and she was right. I read it several times over, simultaneously feeling anxious to get back in the kitchen to learn more, and fearing it completely.

I recently entered an essay contest sponsored by Anthony Bourdain to promote his latest book Medium Raw. He posed the question “"What does it mean to cook well?" I was instantly intrigued and couldn't wait to get started.

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