Last Updated on June 10, 2023
If you’re reading this article, you probably know how cooking can be one of the best things you can do for yourself or your loved ones. Food lies at the bottom of the pyramid of needs, but good food can take you to the peak of the same old pyramid for several reasons. Having healthy and delicious meals is one; putting your heart and soul into what you do is another.
For example, a recent study from the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science suggests that cooking as a hobby increases mental well-being and is perceived as therapeutic. The study highlights the altered sense of consciousness and the dimmed sense of time we feel when we cook — the bliss you experience when chopping carrots has been finally backed with science!
But still, it’s easy to burn out, especially if you cook most days of the week — if not every day. For those times you can use a pinch of motivation, we put together ten quotes from influential people. Let’s cultivate some inspiration and get in the zone to create something delicious!
1. “I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” ― W.C. Fields
The iconic actor, juggler, writer, and comedian William Claude Dukenfield was one of the funniest men in American history. Known for his love for games of chance, liquors of all kinds, and his misanthropic comedic persona that makes you wonder if the controversial things he said were really his opinions or just a comedic act — probably a combination of the two.
Either way, considering the hard life he had coming from an immigrant family, he was a man who made millions of people double over in laughter. So, next time you agonize over some small decisions or mishaps, we hope Fields’ take on life inspires you not to take things so seriously.
Try to make fun of the lemons that life gives you. It’s the best way to take the pressure off a little. And cook with wine, maybe you even add it to the food.
2. “Cooking is a bit like cinema. It’s the emotion that counts.” – Anne-Sophie Pic
Anne-Sophie Pic is France’s most famous female chef, with eight Michelin stars across five restaurants. Even though she didn’t get a formal culinary education, she has been in the dining scene from an early age — as the daughter and granddaughter of two leading chefs.
As both a self-taught and a family-taught cook, Pic places a great deal of emphasis on creativity and emotional authenticity in her cooking. She reminds us that the joy of eating is not only about the right flavor notes and surprising juxtapositions. It’s more about the story wrapped around every meal.
That’s why a falafel wrap shared with a loved one when you were both on a tight budget can be much more memorable than a dinner at a mind-numbingly fancy restaurant.
So, pay attention to what your dishes make people feel and think about the kind of sensation you want them to create. To close the gap in between, play with primary and secondary flavors, colors, textures, and presentation. This is a great way to create better dishes and, most importantly, a great way to get in touch with the art of cooking on a different level.
3. “Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.” ― Craig Claiborne
Craig Claiborne was a food writer and restaurant critic. He wrote numerous cookbooks and was a long-time food editor of The New York Times. His reviews, columns, and cookbooks introduced a generation of rather conservative Americans to new ethnic cuisines like Mexican and South East Asian.
Another thing Claiborne did for the world was to hold restaurants accountable for what they serve by creating a four-star review system. His system was replicated widely, first in the US and then the rest of the world.
We’re grateful to Mr. Claiborne for his work in the food industry and for reminding everyone that even the simplest thing you cook requires and deserves care and attention. After all, what is love if not a special kind of attention?
4. “You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” – Paul Prudhomme
Paul Prudhomme is the chef who made Louisiana dishes famous. Since the mid-90s, his name comes to mind when someone mentions iconic dishes like cajun gumbos, blackened redfish, and jambalayas.
Although he was a celebrity chef with lots of success in his pockets, Prudhomme clung to the personality of a plain country boy who simply liked to cook and loved to eat. But under the cloak of humility, Mr. Prudhomme was gifted with incredible talent. And through his modesty, he showed Americans and people around the world that you don’t have to cook fancy or complicated dishes to be a respectable cook.
It can be a culinary whiplash for some to accept that you can make a much better dish with simple and fresh ingredients than by struggling to follow complex recipes. Once you learn to cherish the simple things, you’ll be ready to slam dunk more complicated menus.
5. “All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.” – John Gunther
John Gunther wasn’t a professional chef. He was an American journalist and writer who crossed the border more than any other journalist of his time to put together a series of sociopolitical investigations called Inside. And when he did, his work was cherished all around the world.
All that traveling and hard work must have taught Mr. Gunther a life lesson: Happiness is about the quality of our thoughts rather than getting all we want, whenever we want. That’s why being able to treasure what we already have, like time for a leisurely breakfast, is one of the most important skills you can have.
Next Sunday, make sure to create some time for your family or some time for yourself to prepare your favorite breakfast meal. Take a moment to fully savor the opportunity, and while you’re at it, send your compliments to Mr. Gunther.
6. “You can’t cook if you don’t like people.” – Joël Robuchon
Joël Robuchon was a French chef whose fame and skills have far exceeded his country. He was named the “Chef of the Century,” held 32 Michelin Guide stars, and owned a fine dining empire that spans 13 locations across the globe. He also taught a generation of chefs, like Gordon Ramsey and Eric Ripert, both internationally recognized.
All these maestro chefs know that although cooking looks like chemistry from many angles, it can also be a form of art. And any form of art is incomplete without passion. So what can fuel this cooking passion?
We’re only delighted to prepare a delicious dish and watch it vanish from the table when we carry about the people devouring it. Compassion for fellow humans is sure to enhance our passion for cooking. So let Mr. Robuchon’s words of wisdom guide you the next time you cook for your friends, family, significant other, or even for yourself, and add a pinch of love in there. You’ll surely notice the difference.
7. “Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.” – Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Michael Bourdain was an American celebrity chef, travel documentarian, and author. If you ever laid your hands on one of his books, such as Kitchen Confidential or World Travel: An Irreverent Guide, or watched some of his shows, you’d know he was tall, tattooed, and quick with a barbed comment.
But under his “cheeky” celebrity-chef persona, he was incredibly smart, talented, and compassionate — “a romantic trapped in a punk’s body,” as he used to say.
Traveling around the world, sampling, studying, and skillfully mastering dishes from all over the place, Bourdain had a clear understanding of what lies at the basis of good food: simplicity.
So, the next time you think you need to prepare an elaborate meal to impress someone, take a step back and look at what you can simplify to perfection. It’s a great way to take the pressure off and acknowledge the beauty in simple things.
8. “Gastronomy is the art of using food to create happiness.” – Théodore Zeldin
Théodore Zeldin is not a chef; he’s a scholar working in the field of cultural history and philosophy. What sets him apart from the usual academic folk is that, in his works, Zeldin tries to find answers to more profound subjects in life, such as inspiration, ambition, and love.
There’s a lot to learn from Mr. Zeldin, like the importance of reflecting on what we’re after when we cook and eat: finding pleasure and happiness in such an everyday thing as food. Whether you’re into sloppy joes, world cuisine, or fine dining, let Mr. Zeldin’s words remind you that, at the end of the day, food is there to make both your belly and heart full.
9. “Cooking is multisensory. It’s made for the eyes, the mouth, the nose, the ear, and the soul. No other art is as complex.” – Pierre Gagnaire
Pierre Gagnaire is the owner and head chef of the eponymous Pierre Gagnaire restaurant in Paris. His unorthodox and nonconformist attitude towards food has brought him fame over the past decade. He’s a chef who doesn’t hold back from clashing very different flavors, textures, tastes, and colors with unusual ingredients. But he does it with perfect elegance, in a way that sharpens all your senses at once.
Drawing inspiration from Monsieur Gagnaire, you can play with how different ingredients appeal to different senses. For example, you can pay special attention to the textures, colors, and harmony of different flavors next time you prepare your signature dish and open up a brand new dimension to it.
10. “I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food.” – Erma Bombeck
Erma Louise Bombeck was an American humorist and columnist famous for her quirky perspective on life and her hilarious columns that stand as humorous chronicles of the American middle class.
Her perspective on life, especially towards the end of it, was a source of inspiration for many people. She celebrated taking pleasure in simple things, not obsessing about fitting in, and realizing the miraculousness of life itself. When you think about it, it’s the attitude that counts most of the time rather than what really happens.
If you ever catch yourself beating yourself up over that failed recipe, try turning it around with a light-hearted twist. A shift in perspective can be quite refreshing and a way to approach any kind of problem with a fresh set of eyes.