When you are cooking, you have to slow down. When you are trying to get good grill marks on a piece of meat or properly roast mushrooms, you have to slow down. You have to wait for the pan to heat up entirely before you put the steak down in it, or you won’t get the good caramelization you want. You can’t take a cold pan and put fish skin side down in it and expect it to turn out well either.
You have to slow down and pay attention when you cook.
However, no matter how many times this was pounded into my head at restaurants, I still never learned to slow down as much as I should have. Instead, on the nights that dinner service ramped up and I wasn’t in my rhythm, I grew more and more anxious. As a chef of mine once said, I was walking next to my shoes. If I could have slowed down, and gotten myself back on track, I could have still pulled out the night. Everyone has those nights occasionally. Most nights, I was hitting the groove and loving the work. But when I had that night, my anxiety grew worse and worse. I went faster and faster to try to keep up and everything went kerplooie.
Now I know this was my ADHD brain at work. When everything isn’t firing right, I get really anxious. It seems that’s pretty typical for folks with ADHD. I wish I had known that then. I would not have been so hard on myself.
As a home cook now, I can slow down more. And when I pay attention in that way, the food is fantastic. I learned something new the other day. When I’m searing salmon and want crispy skin, instead of growing eager to turn it too early, I listen instead.