Saturday, January 31, 2009


Kerri Scanlon of Swampscott Ma. sent me this list of quotes from 'Conversations with God' by Neale Donald Walsh. It makes up a mantra that has given me courage in my darkest moments.
She's a true gift in my life, it's something special when someone to stand for another's greatness especially when doubt rears it's ugly head.
Thank you my beloved!

You cannot lose in this battle
You cannot fail
Thus, it is not a battle at all
But simply a process
Yet if you do not know this
you will see if as a constant struggle
It is in not struggling that the process proceeds
It is the the surrendering that the vicotry is won
There is no coincidence
And nothing happens by accident
Each event and adventure
Is called to yourself by yourself
In order that you might create and
Experience who you really are
All true masters know this
All that is required is to know this
For you are the creator of your reality
And life can only show up in no other way for you
Than that way in which you think it will
Dedicated to Grampa Skinny - Hey Scanlon, how about another junior, sauce, cheese, mayo to go!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Onion

I once read a book called, 'The Supper of the Lamb', written by a Presbyterian Minister in which he writes a full 8 pages about peeling an onion. He sensed mysteries in it's layers and worked at bearing witness to it's secrets.
From a cook's presepctive there's something quite ironic that such a simple, humble vegetable could have such a sgnificant impact on that with which it shared a pan with.

Even if you won't eat the onion there's no way to cook without it and still get that certain herbal sweetness that it imparts to everything it touches.

I bring up the onion, and the book, because over the past month or so I've been working at discovering what my vision is. My mission, my purpose whatever you want to call it, or lack thereof has driven whole industries from books, movies and seminars.

A friend of mine who is a professional speaker and trainer was in Miami and needed a place to stay so we blew up the air mattress, chilled a bottle of wine and settled down for, what I thought would be, an intresting weekend.

You see my friend, Darren Jacklin has no doubt about what his mission is and because he is so committed to it that he lives and breathes it. Every conversation he has revolves around his mission in life and for some who don't live with that kind of drive, he can be a bit exhasuting. But he never faulters because his vision feeds him, fuels him and drives him like only a few I've ever experienced before.

It wasn't like he was conducting a seminar, removed from the crowd on a stage. I sometimes imagined that Dr Wayne Dyer must collapse into a chair back stage after a presentation because it looks and feels like he gives so much during his lecture; he leaves it all on stage - not an ounce left to give.

But that's not the way it is; these guys are energized by their comittment to their mission whatever it might be - they are 100% completely bought in to what they do and it breathes fire into their bellies.

Darren was much the same way as we drove to Whole Foods to get wheat grass shots or late at night on the balcony looking west into the gloam of night.

He suggested that I read this book called 'The Way of the Superior Man' by David Deida. It's about men and the challenges they face at work and in their primary relationship with women, A spiritual Men are from Mars thing. I had read highlighted excerpts from the copy that Darren carried around with him and found it intriguing.

I could write an entire post about the book and not cover half of what's in there and certainly without the stunted eloquence of the writer but his basic hypothesis is that men who have a strong masculine core - who are attracted to women of a strong feminine essence, must have a mission in life.

Men's lives are about mission and purpose while women's lives are about the flow of love in their relationships. I know that I'm making it sound simplistic but we all know it's not.

A man on a mission makes all else worth living - some men's purpose could be having a loving and nurturing home, some could be of political leadership; only they can say.

Having gone through losing a job, having a significant back surgery and getting a little long in the tooth I thought that it might be a good thing to ponder my mission. The author then goes on to say that our mission or purpose in life is like the layers of an onion. The purpose that drove me through my 30's served me then until I paid my karma for that particular cycle, then it would be time to peel back the layer and get to the next purpose.

Sometimes that purpose dosn't show up immediately and then, as Deida puts it, it's time to wait until it shows up.

Deida's got some specific strategies in his book for someone like me, on a mission to find my mission so I got about the business of discovering my purpose.

No TV, no Talk Radio, no Newspapers, nothing to read that didn't have a higher aspiration, no sweets, candy, gum or ice cream (dammit!), no sex or fantasies thereof; execerise, meditation, affrimation, straighten up & fly right - austerity to the extreme.
Sitting Shiva for my Past.
I was lucky, I didn't have to spend 40 days in the desert like Jesus did before the Devil showed up - my demons were of fleeter feet. After a week of the simple life one dayI was meditating - more of an awakened dream than chanting or sitting uncomfortably with my legs crossed (for those of you who know me know that for me, those type of poses are laughable) and it came to me. Just like that, in the moment of least resistance and most allowance.

Now I had my purpose, my vision for my life but I had no idea how to make it happen and apparently, that's okay. Once the mission is clear then the chances to serve your purpose show up, and they have - in abundance.

I don't know exactly how it all works but knowledge of the laws of the universe is not a prerequisite for those laws to work. They work with or without my acceptance or aquiesence

but you sure can maximize your opportunities working with the laws rather than against them. I'm learning fast.
Question now is, do you know what your mission is?

If not, why not take the time to find out - the world will be waiting for you when you get back. Then we all can get busy!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Resume Hell

Big A-Ha this morning; more like ha-ha-hahahahaha (hysterical ironic laughter)
Like most mornings, after my coffee, exercise, mediation, morning movement and affirmations I sit down in front of the computer for an hour of 'free time', read 'actually working and not just surfing porn'.
The ritual is to first read all the food service related newsletters from the day before, omg - not another one! Then I cruise the job boards and check my search agents from A great site if time is short because they poll all the other sites from to and list all the information with links to the original postings.
Right now I have one search agent for Chef jobs in Florida and the other for jobs nation wide filtered by my work experience, would-love-to's and absolutley-have-to-have's. I'm sure that you or someone you know goes through this process as well.
I have a job but it never hurts to check out the market, constantly scanning for that dream position; working for a great progressive company that values their people as their primary assets and actually has programs in place to prove it.
You know a company like Google or Timberland, the shining examples of what's possible if there's a rational juxaposition between profit and personnel.
side dish - I've realized that there are so few of these types of companies out there despite their handsome returns on investments that I've come to the conclusion that if I can't work for one of these industry leaders then it's incumbent upon me to create one. Anyone out there that's ready to put together a world class hospitality company feel free to email me!
Every morning I recheck my resume; is it too short, is it too long, is there sufficent skill shown to make a convincing arguement for a phone call, that kind of thing.
Satisfied, for the moment, I'll choose a couple of postings, do some research and create a skillfully worded cover letter and attach a resume.
Since July of last year I've put out about, conservatively, 350.
I've had two phone calls, 1 in person interview and 1 cooking demo.
Those are tough odds indeed and while the internet may have created a Brave New World for us, it's effectively cut us off from our fellow human beings.
When MySpace blew up a couple of years ago I spent countless hours coaching my girls that the real world did not, in fact, live inside the 22" monitor but out there, amongst the rest of humanity.
'C'mon Dad', they would say as if to imply that the old man just didn't it.
Now I do.
Frustrated at the lack of response my well engineered resumes and cover letters were getting me I realized that my job search should not, in fact could not, reside in there.
And while I have since created a lattice work of presence in cyber space from my profile on Linkedin, my web page, my on line articles and my soon to be published book available from the storefront courtesy of, all that pales in comparision with shaking someone's hand, looking them confidently in the eyes and sitting down to a connected conversation.
Business, and life, have only ever been about relationships and good as the internet tools are they're just no substitute for a physical presence because as well as I've written my resume it'll never tell the whole tale about who I am, where I've come from, what I've learned along the way and the great and good people that have helped forge who I am today.
Power down the box and get your feet out in the street, there's someone out there looking for you, even if they don't know it yet.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kanji Up Yourself

Last year, in July, I became a number.
I was a chef, a pretty highly regarded one as well with plenty of accolades and pictures on the wall. I had left a diminishing position with a well known regional Theater company after their CEO got ousted by the board from the company that he had built with his own two hands over 15 years.
I guess that made us both numbers.
I followed the ousted CEO as he defiantly declared that he would build again, this time better and bigger and this time he wouldn't be giving away any significant percentage of his company.
And so we built.
I learned more in the two years I worked in that office than I did for the previous 10 but this time I learned about construction, design, mission statements, SOG's, FFE and color palletes.
We built in Milwaukee where we were sure that our 'product' would be met with eager anticipation.
We did our home work, our R&D, our pre marketing blitz, everything had been thoroughly mulled over.
For a while we did well but running a business 1200 miles away does have it's challenges.
Then came the housing market, then the credit crunch and pretty soon instead of having 3-4 projects coming out of the ground all developers ran for cover as the financial fallout increased.
Testicles were shrinking quicker than a cold shower.
And so the CEO was placed in the unenviable position of cutting back. He did the easiest ones first, assistants and support personnel but pretty soon it was apparent that the bleeding wasn't slowing down much as the 'doctor's' has prmoised.
Then it was my turn; great work, just bad economics.
Still a bitter pill to swallow but I wished them, as I wish them now, ever the best of luck because I truly believed in what we were doing and what we were offering.
Sometimes you can be a bit too far in front of the market place and it takes a while for the buying public to 'get' what you're pitching.

But if you think this is just another in a long line of gripes, complaints, sour grapes, panic and fear, read again.
What I learned there has prepared me for where I'm at now and I couldn't be here if it wasn't for that herculean effort.
I 'lost' that job but really it was sacrificed for the higher possibility for my life. Out with the old, in with the new, as they say.
One of the last tasks I had tackled turned out to be the first thing I did, once out on my own.
Turned out that my affinity with a particular recipe/inventory program was in demand in all sorts of different places and business types from QSR to Fine Dining and while I may not be making as much money as I did before I am more impassioned and committed to being in service in a way that makes a unique and quantifiable difference to these groups.

I am in deep gratitude for my time with the boys and I am now focused on seeing just how much I can achieve in the service of others; how high is up even if the world is, temporarily turned upside down.

Kanji in the Kitchen is defined as: the process of achieving and maintaining a grounded and present connection with the cooking process by cultivating a positive and expansive attitude.
Even though I may not be in a kitchen from day to day for now, I can use this principle to be more effective and, ultimately, more joyfull.
And you?