The French term mise en place (meez ahn plahs) literally means “everything in its place.” In the culinary world, it means gathering and prepping the ingredients needed for cooking. It also includes going a step further and includes assembling the tools and equipment needed to cook them. The concept is simple: A chef should have at hand everything needed to prepare and serve food in an organized and efficient manner.
There is a popular saying, “If you stay ready you ain’t gotta get ready.” I have always liked that quote. Number one, it makes complete sense. Number two, a person can say it in a loud voice with great enthusiasm and it is usually received as motivation by whoever is in earshot. I have found it makes people want to get up and do something!
I have spent the past few days in silence. Not because I really want to; merely because there is not much to say. I cannot say there was a lot to do, because I thought I had done as much as I could until given my next steps. The steps I had taken clearly did not align with my plans (least not in full) because I found myself in the same place. Literally. Time to retrace my steps and see what happened. Joy.
In the culinary world, mise en place differs in every position, and definitely from restaurant to restaurant. A banquet chef’s work may differ every night, while a sauciers work in a restaurant is more than likely identical night after night. A personal chef’s mise en place is dependent upon what the client needs during their time together and might vary day to day. Regardless of the number of items needed or the complexity of the recipes being prepared, the focus of mise en place requires careful planning, efficient organization and attention to detail.
Usually when unexpected silence comes my way, I try listening very closely to what is being said. I also try listening and comparing things to the culinary world, because it sheds a new perspective on how to handle tasks (or gives me more to do.) I find myself eager to do anything connected to food because it is a joy to be around it. I’m generally a Chatty Cathy, so when I have nothing to say (especially when I should) life sure does. Today Life screamed at me: JOY. THANKSGIVING. TRUST.
I am in a place where my life’s transition has been met with a serious attitude check. More than one chapter was being closed, an entire volume is complete. I had not complained about the tasks given, for the goals and next volume is an exciting one. When I found myself missing out on the first stop of the next phase, I had to reevaluate things quickly; and since I had completed the necessary steps all that was left was my attitude. I cannot take with me the same feelings I had in the last chapters. They were pained, disappointed and cautious. I wrote a book to place everything there and leave it in an honest and respectful way. What I forgot to do was replace those feelings with something else, so that they would not come back. Feelings such as joy. Thanksgiving. Trust.
If there is one thing I do know is the more prepared in the culinary world, the better. When something goes awry, or a situation occurs that one has zero experience in, at least they are as prepared as can be. Allowing the chance to operate quickly and with a clear head. The same thing can be said about life; it dishes out an incredible amount of ‘entrees’ for us to sample. Some taste good, others lack flavor. Some days you may want to spit out what’s been given without a second thought, while other times you may find yourself trying to develop the flavors and richen the experience. The lesson I have found is to approach life with my own mise en place: An ounce of joy, a dash of thanksgiving…a sprinkle of trust. Gratitude. So when something tastes sour, I don’t have to spend longer than necessary adjusting my attitude- I was ready. And who am I kidding? The more gratitude, the better. Sprinkle that $hit everywhere. 🙂
From My Pot to Yours,
The Smitten Chef ❤
Follow the roads and signs that will take you places!