Twelve years ago, I found true love over a schnitzel.
More specifically, I somehow managed to win over the girl of my dreams by cooking her a schnitzel.
I was a baby-faced teenager, full of angst and entirely lacking in cooking skills. I had only just left home and could barely make a packet of instant ramen, so I don’t know what was going through my head when I offered to cook my crush a schnitzel of all foods. I guess I wanted to impress, and schnitzel was the most exotic-sounding food I could think of that I might have a chance of pulling off.
I didn’t pull it off.
Through some miracle Charly agreed, and through an even greater miracle our budding relationship survived the next few hours. Apparently the leathery, dry-as-a-bone excuse of a schnitzel I served wasn’t a deal-breaker, nor was the sight of me manically hammering away at a line of pork chops with two frying pans, coated from head-to-toe in sweat, flour, and patches of egg-wash.
Though the meal was hilariously bad, the gesture seemed to work – over a decade later I’m still cooking her food (we both agree it’s slightly more edible these days).
An older, wiser me might have known to cook something more romantic. But then, an older and wiser me might have been missing the point.
Something special happens when you cook for people.
No matter how bad the food may turn out to be, the simple act of cooking for someone is the ultimate form of connection. It’s a way of showing through your actions that you care for someone–at least enough to spend a few hours gathering food, crafting it into a meal, and serving it up. There’s something primal, something genetically hardwired into our genes that makes us bond much faster when we break bread with the people in our lives.
And not just with potential lovers we’re trying to impress.
Through cooking I have forged new friendships, and cemented existing ones. I’ve had many of the greatest nights, heartiest laughs, and most fascinating conversations of my life at the dinner table.
In 2015, a pork roast I cooked accidentally turned into the greatest business meeting of my life. Between bites of German potato dumplings, my friend David and I connected over our love for illustration and our passion for teaching, and jokingly mused that we should go into business together. By the end of the week we were filing legal paperwork, and just a few years later we had built one of the world’s finest digital painting academies, served tens of thousands of students, and traveled the world while building the business of our dreams. We radically transformed our lives and forged an incredible friendship, over a simple home-cooked dinner.
I can't think of anything in my life that has had a greater ROI than the few hours I spent cooking up that meal.*
*Besides schnitzel-gate, of course
Cooking has clearly led to so many of the greatest moments in my life. And yet, I’m not even a particularly good cook. My food is a lot better these days, but it’s falls squarely in the “very average home-cooked food” camp.
So I’ve been wondering: what could happen if I actually take the time to learn to cook properly?
It’s a rabbit-hole I’ve decided to go down, and I’d love to take you with me.
Over the next few months.. years.. maybe even decades, I plan to give myself a DIY culinary education.
I don't plan on becoming a chef. I have no desire to work in a restaurant. I merely want to become a world-class home-cook, so that I can cook ever more delicious foods for the people in my life.
Along the way, I’ll be sharing the things I discover.
I’ll share the techniques I learn, the spices I try, the recipes I perfect. If I ever learn to make a proper schnitzel I’ll definitely share that as well. There’s a whole world of culinary science to explore, and I can’t wait to dive in.
Topics I’ll be exploring include:
- How to create dishes designed to impress – whether that’s for a dinner date for your lover, or a dinner party for your friends
- How to use the techniques taught at cooking school in your own home, where you don’t have a commercial kitchen and team of line cooks at your disposal
- The art of plating – how to design and plate up dishes so they not only taste great, but look like something you’d get in a fine dining restaurant
- The science of flavor – how to create the tastiest dishes possible, by digging into the scientific processes that create flavor
- How to create restaurant-quality food at home
Perhaps my journey might inspire you to follow along. To level-up your own home cooking. To create more serendipity by cooking for the people in your own life.
If that sounds like something you’d be in to, I invite you to subscribe below so you can stay up to date whenever I publish new content.
I’ll be sending out my first lessons in the coming days. Until then I hope you have a wonderful week, and if you’ve made it to the bottom of this page I look forward to hopefully breaking bread with you one day, dear reader.