“Go deep and master something…

“Go deep and master something.  Going wide spreads your focus too thin”…..Leslie Bradshaw, CCO, Guide

I read the above quote in Fast Company magazine a few years back and made note of it plus many other quotes from young successful people in that paticular article.  Now that I am deep into achieving a better grip on the culinary scene as a profession, this quote speaks to me in a different way than it had just a few years ago.  Mastering, Master it and the 1000’s of recipes that I watched demonstrated, cooked, served and tasted while at Ballymaloe Cookery School have become my “something deep” and my desire is to Mastering, Master it!  It wasn’t a planned goal or focus or one of my top 100 things to do back, however now it just feels like a very natural progression of things for me to be doing.  They say that practice makes perfect or practice makes progress…or is it perfect practice makes perfect!  For me all of the recipes from Ballymaloe whether they were Mrs Myrtle Allen, Darina Allen, Rory O’Connell, Timmy Allen or Rachel Allen’s recipes, they have all been made pretty close to perfect….most have been taught, prepared and served for over 50 years old!

Just the other day I found Mrs. Myrtle Allen’s first cookbook on Amazon for $7.00!  What a great fine for me.  Published in 1977, thirteen years after Ballymaloe House and Restaurant was opened for business.   I read it cover to cover and laughed as I read all of the fun illustration, like the one below.


Mrs Allen could publish her first cookbook again today and it would be just as relevent as it was in 1977!   Well…as a matter of fact she did just do a revised edition of her cookbook and it is still very current in today’s food scene.

Rory O’Connell’s, Master it (in my opinion) seems to take almost everything he has learned during his career as a chef and instructor and tells me a story about what is important in learning to cook for the modern cook, managing to hold true to time-tested basic cooking skills.  For me Rory makes learning simple and he says it is not complicated right from the beginning and I am trusting him with my time, energy and money.  He says….First, just find the best ingredients, Second, get organized and third, follow the recipe!  As I read each one of his recipes it he is in the kitchen with me!  Knowing from over thirty years of teaching experience where I am going to hesitate or need some encouragement to be brave, or take it a little slow here or there…he knows my fears and addresses them up front!

Since embarking upon teaching from Rory’s Master it cookbook for over a year now, I have never hesitated in presenting any of the recipes that I feel my students would enjoy and learn from seeing demonstrated.  Not because I am an accomplished instructor, but because I know that the recipes have been tested and are going to be wonderful and inspiring my class to go home and give it a whirl!

I challenge you all to go deeper and master something, as I too believe going wide can spread your focus too thin.


PS..my classes did love the Warm grilled steak with beetroot and aioli in this months classes.  The big take away was using a grill pan to cook the sirloin and also seeing the importance of allowing the meat to rest in a warm oven.  (See my last blog to read about this recipe)

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