It's not you, it's the recipe

One of my favorite videos on YouTube, naturally about food, is about the story of Allen Hemberger. No, he’s not a famous chef. In fact, he has no professional culinary background. But nonetheless he sets out to cook every single recipe in the Alinea recipe book.

In case you’re not familiar, Alinea is a restaurant in Chicago has been awarded three Michelin stars (that’s the maximum). They serve a type of food called molecular gastronomy - “the scientific approach of nutrition from the perspective of physics and chemistry”. Basically, they create crazy dishes like balloons that you can actually eat:

For good reason, it consistently ranks in the top restaurants in the world.

Cooking one of their recipes is hard. Cooking them all is damn near impossible.

It takes Allen about 5 years to make all the recipes in the book. Except for one.

There’s one part of a dish that consists of a gel that is rolled into the shape of a snail. But after dozens of attempts, every time he tries to roll it, the gel falls apart. So he adds a bit of gelatin and it works.

Frustrated, he emails Grant Achatz, head chef at Alinea, and asks for help because he feels like he’s doing something wrong. To Allen’s surprise, Grant invites him to Chicago so they can cook that same dish together.

Grant makes the gel and tries to roll it. It falls apart.

And then Grant says: “I guess the recipe is wrong. It just needs a bit more gelatin.”

I’ve done this countless times in my life. I’ve doubted myself. I’ve compared myself to people who are doing it “the right way” when in actuality they’re just making it up as they go.

The internet makes it even worse. It’s all too easy to constantly check if this is the right way to do something or if somethings ever been done before.

It’s time for me to trust my gut and stop doubting myself. It’s not you, it’s the recipe.

The video described above is worth a watch in full (12 minutes):

Follow me on Twitter for more content like this: @theaarontaylor