CIMG1367My husband and I were watching an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix last night. The featured chef was Francis Mallman. The cinematography was gorgeous but we were both becoming rather annoyed by Francis himself. Then it happened.

He was talking about his first restaurant which was wildly successful. Francis was known, at the time, for cooking the pure classical French cuisine in which he had been trained. One night the Cartier’s, of jewelry fame, booked his restaurant for a large party. At the end of the evening Mr. Cartier himself took Francis aside for a talk.

He told him to think about what he was doing. That the evening and the food were terrible and not French at all. Francis realized that he had been parroting what he was taught and nothing else. Even the table flowers and settings were stereotypes.

So, he closed the restaurant and chose a new path which was completely his own. He talked about the fact that everyone has to do this at some point. You must put aside the ways you were taught and do what you must do. You must be yourself.

Now, Francis went from classical French with masses of flowers and silver on the tables to rustic Patagonian with piles of dirty potatoes in the center of the table. I think maybe for most of us, moments like this happen in small doses. We have little tremors here and there throughout our lives rather than one huge earthquake like Francis had.

Our training becomes a part of us gradually rather than the training being the sum total of ourselves. We learn when to lean on that training and when to let it go and forge a new path.

And, we must learn not to feel guilty about it in the least.

Update: June 17 Don’t Be Like Your Teacher – Be You! The Musician’s Way Blog

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