No, I'm not going to rant about who won Next Iron Chef. Apparently, they were looking for something different in an Iron Chef than I would have. Regardless of the outcome and the way-too-early exit of the delicious Chuck Hughes (him and his food both!), I really enjoyed the series.
Top chefs tend to be at the very least confident and assertive, and sometimes (or maybe even often) cocky and arrogant. In competition especially, they have to be confident in their abilities. They have to deal with weird ingredients and unexpected curve balls and blenders seizing up. With the clock ticking, there's no time for even a hint of "WTF am I doing."
I realize that we see an edited version of the show, but it was still obvious that despite the competition, the chefs had a huge amount of respect for one another. More than one person mentioned how one of the best things about the competition was the camaraderie they felt with the other chefs. This wasn't just open, friendly people like Worst Cooks in America co-hosts Anne Burrell and Beau MacMillan, with whom I bet just about anyone would love to sit down and have a beer and a chat. Even the ones who might be unapproachable in real life seemed to realize they were all in it together.
If I train as a chef, will I become arrogant?
Maybe, but I expect not. I don't think I have that in me. In fact, even though I have reached a certain level of confidence in my ability in the kitchen, I also know how much I don't know and how far I still have to go—even as a household cook.
I have never been tough. We all have to toughen up to get through life at all, but it's not something that comes easy to me. It's funny, because I'm quite outgoing, sometimes even brash. But I'm not very assertive. Sure, there are times when I've been a bitch, but even that has mostly come from thoughtlessness rather than being overly assertive. I don't try to be vulnerable. I just am. I've learned to raise shields when I need to, but I doubt they would withstand a strong phaser blast.
Still, as painful and dangerous as vulnerability can be, I would never want to lose it. I would rather cultivate it. I will not be weak. I will grow stronger. But I will not lose vulnerability. The joy is totally worth all the sorrow that necessarily comes with it.
This video is not new. Brené Brown, who studies vulnerability, gave the talk a year and a half ago, and it was posted last December. But I think this is one of the most important TED videos I've seen. I like watching it again from time to time to remind myself of things that are too easy to forget.
Happy Chanukah to all my Jewish friends! Special wishes and much love to one whose Chanukah will probably not be happy this year. May pain and sorrow not crush us but rather make us more fully human.