Mise en place
For people who treasure time
My dad was a chef. In more ways than one. He left home at 16 to work in the kitchen on a ship. There is always a reason when you leave home at an early age in search of what you are not finding in your trusted environment. I think he found more than he wanted but the opportunity to work in the kitchen introduced him to the structure and discipline he subconsciously thrived under.
He very consciously decided to enrol at the Maastricht Hotel Management school where the philosophy of mise en place was introduced and applied in all aspects of organising events, activities and daily life. His ambitions, meeting my mother and a ferocious commitment resulted in one of the first Michelin star restaurants in the Netherlands. My parents were hospitality visionaries combining everything they had learned at home and abroad and introducing it to a rather barren Dutch culinary culture.
For my brother and me, mise en place and the corresponding planning of every day became an integral part of our growing up. Even when my parents no longer ran a restaurant, our home life was run according to a comparable framework. It’s only when you visit others in their home environment that you get to understand what this means.
Being self employed and therefore not having an external structure of a 9-5 job requires one’s own system and commitment to getting things done and making time for creativity and rest.
In our third year at Back to La Tierra I am feeling that we are entering a new phase of refining our daily tasks, improving our systems and prioritising our time.
Staying aware of the temptation to focus on working IN the business which leaves no time to work ON our business. Because after all, our ideologies and visions will require us to be healthy, at peace and focused to allow for continuity and growth. And when I say growth I mean always being open to learning and improving in our field.
My brother and I used to tease my dad when he got out his planner for his daily mise en place. After all, it wasn’t as if he was running a multinational corporation! Now I understand that especially a small business requires detailed planning to leave sufficient time for creativity and rest.
I have learned that time is our most treasured profit but it doesn’t bank well. Making time to write this, read, have meaningful conversations, cook and enjoy meals together is the framework around which I want to live my life. It’s the framework and the natural fertiliser I can’t do without.
I am reading Working Clean by Dan Charnas which is highly recommended if your dad wasn’t a chef.
And if he was; you’ll smile all through it with endearing recognition.