David Chang

@chang2301

Why every entrepreneur should cook

There’s something on your mind. Something you think that could make a huge difference to this world; something you believe there’s no one else doing it and nobody else can do it; something you feel you have a better understanding than anyone else; and something that could make you a fortune at the end of the day. So, you jumped across the highest wall of your life and started your own company, the one that will eventually make your dream comes true.

Then the real works started. You worked 20 hours a day building products, meeting with investors, brainstorming with co-founders, finding customers, taking phone calls of angry clients, endless tasks that could easily fill your day without even planning it. Sometimes you’ll wonder what about your family? kids? hobbies? “Well…they could wait. After the company takes off and making money, I’ll have time.” — the most common reply. We all wanted to build company, sell it, make some money, raise a family, and be happy, and we prioritize with that order in mind.

Anything else can wait.

Thinking that you have given yourself a clear answer, you threw yourself back to the cycle and work. But after all we are just human, and we all get tired and become fragile. You might feel jealous when you see someone else posting photos on Facebook of taking kids out on weekend while you’re sitting in front of your desk coding. You might feel frustrated when your friend shares photos of his trip to France on Instagram while your product is losing users. You understand well that’s the trade-off. But you just can’t leave the baby you have built with everything you’ve got.

Well, that’s OK. But why don’t you procrastinate a bit and start doing something that will keep you out of your work, satisfy your basic need as a human, and somehow make your friends jealous? How about cooking?

Like painting, cooking is an instinct. You will never be Picasso in painting, so you don’t need to be Alain Ducasse or Joël Robuchon to cook. The key lies in the process of preparing, not the result. I’ll walk through the steps of my favorite Garlic Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary to tell you why I think every entrepreneur should cook (recipe at the bottom).

Garlic Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary. Super simple and delicious.

The dish start with marinating the chicken, and it will taste better if I leave it for about 12 hours before cooking (you can marinate it for one hour if you are in a hurry). I’ll start with making the marinade. There are only three ingredients that need to be processed for the marinade: lemon, garlic, and rosemary (chicken has already been processed). I’ll start with my favorite, garlic. In my opinion, peeling the garlic cloves and chopping them is simply the best activity to get away from my work. It smells good (if you like garlic). It’s repetitive so you can empty your mind with the continuous movement of your knife. It’s a little bit dangerous so you will pay attention to not cut your finger. And lastly, it’s satisfactory because you will feel like a chef when you’ve done it (I feel like this way every time). Then it’s time to juice the lemon and separate the rosemary leaves from the sprig. Well, although it’s not so fancy as chopping the garlic, the scent of fresh lemon and rosemary will make you forget every trouble in your work. To me, the fresh odor of preparing food is always better than the Yankee Candle at my living room.

OK, so we’re getting there. When you starting to prepare for cooking by peeling, cutting, chopping, and dicing, you are procrastinated in a good way. Maybe you are stuck with a bug. Maybe the new idea is not getting any support. Maybe you need to prepare a tough pitch. Maybe you just suddenly lose all your passion. Or maybe you just want to take a break. No matter what reason, cooking is a great getaway that will bring peace to your mind, satisfaction to your heart, and energy to your body (if you did not screw up).

The preparation is done and now I am eager to start the real cooking. I picked this oven dish on purpose because it’s very hard to messed up for beginners. The steps are pretty simple: arranged everything in the baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, and seasoned with fresh pepper. Then placed it in the 400℉ oven for 30 minutes. Those good 30 minutes are where the mojo is because you shouldn’t be checking your email or thinking about your marketing plan. You should watch the chicken turned perfectly brown; you should smell the aroma of the splendid combination of garlic, lemon, and rosemary; you should feel the difference in you.

There are maybe 1% of the people out there can multitask and complete them well at the same time. So why don’t we just assume that we can’t, and just focus on one thing — cooking. Without this recognition, you will never enjoy the pure joy of cooking and refresh your mind for the challenges ahead. Think about it, if you’re contemplating about the marketing plan while you were cutting carrots, how can you reset your mind and pressure? As an entrepreneur, I always feel like I have to be doing something at any moment when my eyes opened, or I will feel that I am totally wasting every second. That’s not right. Because sometimes it’s just better to do nothing, even when you’re cooking, technically, you are giving your brain a moment to rest and to be quiet. Many times I found my best ideas come to me after I cooked.

“It’s best to do one thing really, really well” — Google

Cooking is just like building a product for startup. You’re fumbling with everything and trying to keep everything organized. Your first dish, say Lasagn, is like your MVP (most viable product). Your customer (your friend or family)will give you feedbacks, like it’s too salty or it’s completely uneatable (I have done that before). You will learn and adjust, like what you did for your MVP, and make another Lasagne. This time it should be better and get you out of the uneatable category, just like your MVP is getting some positive comments from your customers. With more trial and error, you will become the expert of Lasagne, just as Google’s motto “It’s best to do one thing really, really well”.

Next time when you find yourself stuck, try to cook something. Since cooking is just like startups, as an entrepreneur, why shouldn’t you cook?

Garlic Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • 8 pieces chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves stripped from stems
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 zucchini
  • ½ onion
  • 10 mushroom

Steps:

Before cooking, mix well and marinated the chicken with fresh lemon juice, soy sauce, chopped garlic, honey, sugar, rosemary leaves, and pepper for at least 12 hours in refrigerator.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉.
  2. Cut zucchini, onion, and mushroom and arrange evenly at the bottom of a baking dish. Drizzle the olive oil on the vegetables and seasoned with pepper.
  3. Arrange chicken on the baking dish, skin side up. Drizzle the chicken with some olive oil and place in the oven.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes and take the baking dish out. Set aside for 5 more minutes to keep the meat juice.
  5. Enjoy!
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