My friend Lynn told me a story about eating at Thomas Keller’s restaurant The French Laundry that I find haunting. I had to share it.
She and her husband had dinner at the French Laundry in Yountville, California, when they were visiting the Napa Valley. She described having an amazing meal, but that’s not surprising. What got my attention was when she said that their waiter asked, “Would you like to visit the kitchen?” Of course, they said, “Yes!”
She described walking into the kitchen where everyone was working at their own stations in complete silence except for classical music playing.
I find the image so powerful and inspiring that I can’t get it out of my mind. Can you imagine working in your kitchen with calming classical music playing and no stress?
Lynn went on to describe that each work station had stacked lidded boxes full of ingredients prepped for the evening’s dishes. “Everything was immaculate and organized.”
In French that process is called mise en place, meaning everything in its place. Once all the ingredients are prepared, measured, and placed in the order they are going to be used, cooking becomes a dance that is glided through without hesitation, worry, or stress. Then when you add classical music, it all turns into something magical.
That’s the experience I want in the kitchen. How about you?
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Having a party again is simply wonderful. Every summer, Mark, my husband, makes a gigantic paella and we invite friends to watch the process (trust me, it is a show) and eat the amazing results. The party always occurs between the 4th of July and the 14th, Bastille Day. Are you wondering why we make a paella to . . .