The flavors of life through the eyes of a chef
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The flavors of life through the eyes of a chef

People say that life is short and
that we should enjoy it to the fullest. I don’t really deny that fact
that we should enjoy our life, but short is not the word
that I would use. I think of life like a dish
with so many flavors to go around, like sweet for those amazing moments, and bitter for those
not so amazing moments. Today, I am here to share with you
a few of the lessons that I learned because of my passion for cooking. Often when children are rather young, they don’t really know what they
want to do in life, but I always have. I have always wanted to become a chef. I felt happy when I worked with flavor and that’s when I knew
I had to become a chef. I looked at life through the eyes of
food and flavor, and I learned some very interesting things
in very interesting ways that I am here to share with you. When I was eight years old, I noticed that even though
a chocolate cake and a chocolate pudding are made of the same exact
core ingredient, they taste so different
from each other, right? Each ingredient, a single ingredient,
is so different that food is all about choices and there is so much that you can do
with a single ingredient because every time that you pair
it with something different, it turns out as something totally new. For example, when you take chocolate
and you pair it with mint, it’s rather refreshing, right? But if you pair it with spice, instead,
it’s bolder. I also realized that when certain
ingredients are in certain dishes, they taste great. But when this same ingredient
is in another dish, it tastes so different, maybe even bad. When I was nine years old,
I had about enough of waiting, okay? And I thought it’s about time
I start cooking on my own. So, I decided that for the first time,
I was going to make a dessert. And I was so excited to finally
start making something with my own hands, I could have a creation to show people
that they could taste. In my head, it all looked like
one of those pictures from a recipe book that’s all garnished and perfect. But I didn’t really do that much
of research to find out the kinds of ingredients
that I would need to obtain such an amazing dish. I thought I had a fair idea,
which I totally did not. So I just randomly started grabbing
ingredients from around my kitchen like cocoa powder, sugar,
baking soda and some chocolate. I mixed it all together in a bowl
and called it a mousse. But here’s a tip: you do not add
baking soda to something unless you’re going to bake it. Otherwise, it’s going to taste like sand. No kidding. So my dish was trash,
but this was not a failure, it was a lesson, a lesson that I could learn from
and a mistake that I could fix. And what I learned from this is that
if you fail, it’s pretty much taught you something
along the way and you just need to search for it
and you need to choose to learn from it. Have you ever mixed any two flavors
that are not supposed to be mixed together but actually turn out
to taste really great? Well, I have, and it did turn out great. Chocolate with a pinch of salt in it –
it doesn’t actually taste that bad. I know it sounds weird,
but it doesn’t taste that bad. People just assume that some things
don’t work together, not realizing that each
of these ingredients has their own unique,
very adventurous flavors that they could unleash
which they just do not and do not realize that they could
create something totally new. For this, I take you into
the Indian kitchen where every household in India
has one circular metal box with five smaller circular metal bowls
inside of it. Each of these bowls has a different
spice in it. This is called the masala dani. Households in different parts of India
use different kinds of spices, which causes for this masala dani
to differ in case of various families. But still, each and every time, each of these unique and diverse
masala danis comes out with an amazing dish. This fascinated me a lot, and I noticed that each of these spices
has its own characteristics, it’s diverse in its own way, and they still compliment
each other while adding to the dish all at the same time. Each of these unique spices
and each of these unique masala danis just harmonize all together to give
this box a beautiful and unique aroma. And maybe, if we all worked that way, too,
and harmonized, we could give our world a beautiful
and unique aroma of positivity. When you taste a dish,
you taste many flavors but there are certain flavors
that stand out more, that are bolder, like spice. When I was eleven years old and in the process of making
my original TED-Ed talk, I was newly learning to present
a talk more efficiently, and that’s when I realized that
a talk is pretty much a bunch of words without the passion in them, the same way that a recipe is nothing
without the flavor in them. How I see it, my life is a cake, and I can choose to add
whatever flavor I want to it. If people happen to not like my flavor,
well, you know what? That’s okay. But that does not mean
that I need to stop expressing my flavor because no matter what flavor,
cake always tastes great. I have a dream like everybody
in this room does. Everybody has a dream. I decided to look at life
through the eyes of it, and I learned to stand out, learn from my failures, and make my own choices. Throughout this journey
of realizing my dream, I started to look at the world
in such a different way, more positive, more optimistic. I could learn stuff from everyday objects
and everyday activities, and this really helped me. So I encourage you to do the same. And who knows? Maybe it could change
your mindset on looking at life. And all of a sudden, you will start realizing there’s so
much you can learn from everyday objects because even the potato chip
was made on a whim.

About Earl Carter

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