Making the most complicated meal and executing it flawlessly is not success. It’s not about how many ingredients you used or the advanced technique that you’ve practiced a thousand times. It’s not even about the tools you use or the quality of the ingredients. It’s about appeasing your audience.
Every now and again (eh?) I cook dinner for my host family – that is, the ones who actually own the toy room that I live in. Growing up with two parents who can both cook very well, I thought this would be a great trade. Room and board for the occasional end to end meal service (I clean up, too).
My father is an excellent chef and my mother, in her recent years, has become an executive chef on private jets. They both know how to cook and I grew up as a product of my environment. I’ve learned about different techniques and how to make things from scratch. However, what they never taught me was that it isn’t always about the ingredients or materials, but about the audience.
It’s about who you are cooking for.
The family consists of three children under the age of 12, their parents, and the mobile poop factory (the dog). On one hand, the parents are actually interested in how food is prepared. They like trying new flavors and even learning a thing or two when I’m able to teach them. This is pretty great because I get to show off or share my knowledge. The girls, on the other hand, couldn’t care less.
They want their food when they want it and they don’t care how long it takes or how complicated it is, as long as it’s ready when they are. Remember fists of fury? She likes her meals prepared a certain way. Nothing can touch. The chicken cannot touch the broccoli or all hell breaks loose. The youngest one, who always seems to have sticky hands, will try new things, but prefers her usual favorite. If you know what that is, you win every time. The oldest one, who is a future star on the reality show Cupcake Wars, is very basic. Adding anything additional occasionally angers her – avoid at all costs.
So how do I measure success when cooking for the family? I’ve learned the hard way. It’s definitely not technique, nor is it the quality of ingredients–alone–that is measurable.
It’s the clean plate club.
When each one of the kids eats everything on their plates, the parents are incredibly happy. It’s the way it should be. Growing kids need nutrients to continue growing.
Chicken asparagus risotto? Nope. Duck l’Orange? Nope. Mac ‘n cheese? Wins every time.
And this technique can be applied to life, entrepreneurship and any other type of business. Technique, technology, and complexity is not enough. Appeasing your audience, is.
Joining the clean plate club equals success for the chef. It requires knowing your audience, knowing what they will enjoy and executing that. And if you can do that, you’ll get repeat customers every single time.
Repeat customers? That’s success.