I’ve been enjoying a Netflix series entitled, Chef’s Table. Each episode tells the story of a single chef. I’ve not experienced a documentary series quite like this. The cinematography is exceptionally beautiful, the storytelling compelling, and the food is unique and gorgeous. With the use of slow motion and lighting the creators transport me to another world. And I love getting lost in the mood and the story.

After stopping off in dreamland and wishing to be a world-renowned chef (I don’t really want to engage all of the hard work it takes to get there), I realize that what is really happening is I am being inspired to be who I am, and to share what I have, with creativity and passion.

Each chef is as unique as their food. And they have found a way to express themselves in ways that are true to their gifts and vision. As with most great stories, the hero or heroine is not enjoying critical raves at the beginning. They learn and grow and fail their way through their careers. They experience setbacks and heartbreaks. But they don’t give up. They made their way to the top of their game and are now enjoying the fruits of that labor.

Again, I am always inspired by each chef’s uniqueness. Some of the chefs are quirky, some are intense, some are eccentric, some are peaceful, and they are all gifted in expressing their culinary vision in their own way.

One episode of Chef’s Table highlighted Chef Niki Nakayama from Los Angeles. She creates a modern twist on the Japanese tradition of kaiseki. Within this very precise mode of presenting a multi-course meal, she often serves one dish that is completely non-traditional. There is a term for this: Shiizakana, which translates to “not bound by tradition, chef’s choice.”

In our own lives some traditions are helpful and some are merely ruts. If you are stuck in a rut, it is good to remember that, at times, you can color outside the lines, try out a new path, and find ways to express your truest, most creative self.

How are you struck by this idea of being who you are and sharing from that? In our unhurried living paradigm, it really does begin on the inside and at God’s initiative.

Here is some food for thought:

  • How are you being inspired to be all of who you are? And, by that, I mean continuing to respond to God’s initiative to form you over time (Philippians 1:6).
  • Are you stuck in any ruts? Are you engaged in any non-helpful practices into which you could interject some Shiizakana?
  • If you are in a learn, grow, fail process, how are you being inspired to keep going?
  • Like Chef Nakayama, how might you take some habit or convention and inject your own innovation into it?


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