The Flickering of Flames

I was taught an important lesson over ten years ago. While teaching in France, I gave English lessons to a Master Chef (whose humility did not permit him to speak of his hundreds of awards and distinctions) in return for getting cooking lessons. Aside from raking me over the coals many times for not having adequately memorised hundreds of herbs by smell and taste, or knowing exactly which of the hundred hanging pots would be most suitable for a certain sauce, he once became very upset with me when I suggested he give up his day job —which had nothing to do with cooking— and go to Paris to work full-time as a chef. I knew his job in the public service was mundane and quite boring, but I also knew he had received offers from some very high-class and trendy restaurants in the capital, so this didn’t seem like much of a stretch. Why was he upset? Partly because he didn’t want to sully his art, but mainly because —by turning a passion to commercial use— his love of cooking would become only a job. The flame that burned within him would be extinguished, and he could not live with himself.

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