I’ve spent a good part of my life trying to find happiness, and if I were to tell the truth I would have to admit that the harder I searched, the more illusive the idea of total fulfillment had become. This notion became so apparent to me a few years ago, that I simply gave up looking for the burning bush and began to concentrate instead on the more mundane tasks that serve to get me and my family through each day. Before long, little bits of joy and contentment began to infiltrate my world in a million different ways, until one day I realized that I had actually become a fairly happy guy, if for no other reason than I was showing up for my life one hundred percent, without fear. It’s been the same for my career as a chef, when I stopped trying to impress everyone by flexing my culinary muscles, and began to focus solely on highlighting the inherent energy of local foods in their natural state of purity; people began to respond to my cooking with real enthusiasm.
To this day one of the best pieces of fish I have ever enjoyed was at a little restaurant attached to a small supermarket on the main road about ten miles south of Kona, on the big island of Hawaii. It was a thick slab of pristine Ahi tuna grilled to absolute perfection, slightly charred and salty on the outside and just warmed but still very rare on the inside. It was served with the simplest of salsas made from ripe tropical fruit, fresh lime juice and a little extra virgin olive oil. It is the only meal I can truly remember with any clarity from that trip, and it was by far the simplest and least expensive. I now believe that when it comes to feeding our bodies, minds and spirits, it’s best to keep the process pure, by focusing on the foods that have the most inherent energy and flavor, both by virtue of how they are produced as well as their seasonality.
Its true organic foods (especially at many local farmers markets) can be more expensive than what you might purchase at a local supermarket. The value lies not so much in the price, but in the general health and nutrition benefits to be enjoyed by purchasing food that hasn’t been tampered with, and then as the demand for this kind of food rises it will become much more affordable. I have come to the point in my life where I do not eat tomatoes, corn, strawberries, apples etc; unless they are in season and I make sure to purchase these products locally when they are. When strawberries begin popping up in May and June, I put them in all of my desserts while they are at their peak and then I move on, when they’re not. As a result, every spring I get excited about the prospect of working with strawberries all over again.