This post is written by Chef Bryon Freeze. Bryon Freeze burst into the culinary spotlight when he won "Chef Wanted," a chef competition show on the Food Network. After heading up the Manhattan Beach kitchens of Mexican eatery Mucho Ultimo and Circa, he moved on to Santa Monica's acclaimed Tar & Roses, where he was most recently Chef de Cuisine. Chef Bryon has a passion for fresh, innovative cooking and farm-to-table cuisine.
The best meal I ever ate didn’t come from a grocery store, a fast food joint, or a restaurant. Instead, the food was presented on large platters that filled the table in a flood of Moroccan taste treats. We reached over the table, sampling the homemade brirouat and lamb tajine as we traded stories through delicious bites. The quality of the ingredients paralleled the quality of the conversation; this was how food was meant to be eaten.
In today’s world, not all meals are as majestic as this Moroccan feast. We eat breakfast in the car, lunch at a desk, and dinner in front of the television. We don’t take the time to enjoy our food, and therefore take little time to acknowledge the ingredients that go into creating our meals. And who can blame us? In today’s chaotic world full of PTA meetings and conference calls, not everyone has the time to worry about the origins of the supermarket tomato. Not to mention that learning to cook can seem like an overwhelming task.
For some, the idea of visiting the farmers market or preparing a meal from scratch is both daunting and time-consuming. It’s far easier to pick up whatever the grocery store has to offer without thinking twice about where the food came from how or how its production will impact the rest of the environment. But that’s when our desire for simplicity begins to get us into trouble.
The reason? We simply can’t trust that the planet or our bodies will stay in working order if we don’t treat them both with respect. Sooner or later, we’re going to start running out of the things we love to eat. For instance, we can’t just keep removing soft shell crabs from the ocean and expect there to still be soft shell crabs. And in addition, we can’t keep eating processed food and expect our bodies to operate healthily. So how do we fix this problem? We take control.
The first step is to carve out time to actually enjoy our food. By building our excitement to start cooking, we begin to develop an interest for where our food comes from. This interest is vital. We consumers can’t continue to trust that the media and grocery stores will provide us with the right information regarding our eating habits. We have to inform ourselves. We have to visit farmers markets, and read books by Michael Pollan and Alice Waters. By taking the opportunity to learn about our food, we get excited to eat. And excitement leads to action.
That’s why websites like Salted are so revolutionary. By providing an affordable and convenient way for people to learn how to cook, we take the fear out of the kitchen. Salted allows people the freedom of being able to cook their favorite dishes in the comfort of their own home. It encourages individuals to learn about their food in a way the benefits the earth and the family.
Food is meant to nourish both the body and the soul. By learning about cooking, we develop the ability to teach others about how delicious a meal can be. That’s why chefs have such a big voice. Is my voice loud enough? Absolutely not. Are there enough voices? They’re growing. Are we going in the right direction? I think so.
I believe that the best meals come from carefully selected ingredients that are prepared in a way that shows care and craft. Let’s start educating ourselves. Let’s learn to cook so that we can provide ourselves and our loved ones with the best food mother nature has to offer. We don’t need to eat a Moroccan feast; we simply need to sit back, pass the plates, and enjoy.