Everyone is seeking the recipe for success. During an unexpected trip to Uruguay this week, a small-time chef with a five star smile shared his recipe with me.
Chef Luis didn’t teach me his secret in English or Spanish. He used the universal language of Paella. Paella is an ancient food, estimated to have originated circa 1000 years ago. Found in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and South America, Paella is made with a multitude of different ingredients unique to each region but with one common component – an over-sized frying pan known as the ‘patella’. When I crossed paths with Chef Luis at 10am in the riverside city of Colonia, he was pouring a 5 gallon bucket of seafood and vegetables into his patella. He smiled at me and my travel mate and told us, ‘Come back at 12:30pm – it will be ready.’
This post marks my last for the April Challenge series. Those participating in the challenge have shared trials, victories and frustrations along the way. Through it all, however, we find ourselves together now at the finish line! For some of us, we are excited that we met our original goal on time. For others, we discovered that there is power in allowing ourselves to adjust objectives midway without shame or embarrassment. And still more of us may choose to continue our April goal into May to see it to completion. Herein lies our ‘patella,’ the key universal component: growth happens during the journey, not at the destination.
Chef Luis was true to his word and at 12:30pm he handed us two small plates to sample his freshly made Paella. Gorgeous saffron-colored rice bursting with mussels, clams, squid, shrimp and fish commanded my full attention. The taste was exquisite; complex and hearty with flavors that sang of coastal waters and local farms. But the most amazing thing was that my tutor/chef had done it all without a recipe. The day’s catch, a few South American staples (corn, peppers, rice) and the steady hand of a committed cook were his script for success.
A goal, like a recipe, can be simultaneously comforting and intimidating. But like the best meals often come without a recipe, so too are the most impactful goals often borne from the heart. It is unheard of to discard a partially cooked meal because of a missing ingredient or an unexpected delay, yet we often justify abandoning our goals for exactly those reasons. Wherever you stand today with the April Challenge, know that you are the chef and the world will be inspired by your passion. Never stop cooking.
My sincerest thanks to Chef Luis of Restaurante Rio De La Plata!