Edward Lee on Living

And what that means for your cooking.

May 4, 2016 ● 1 min read

I had a small place in NYC that was doing well, but it was tiny. I was craving more. 

When 9/11 happened, we lost the restaurant and I lost a good friend. My girlfriend at the time moved to Italy, and my life was turned upside down overnight. I took a little time off work and drove around America; I ended up by chance in Louisville during Derby, and cooked at a quaint little gem of a restaurant. I fell in love with the place, and within a year, I moved to Louisville and took over the little restaurant: 610 Magnolia. It was what I needed at the time.  
It was a beautiful time before camera phones and Instagram. Back then, no one was writing about Louisville and no one cared about what I was doing. It was important for me to cook and grow in a place that was safe and not under the scrutiny of media. Looking back on it now, it was the most important part of my growth as a chef to be able to find my voice.

I guess the only real thing I can say to young cooks is that there is a lot more to life than just cooking. As young professionals, there is this incredible pressure to eat, drink and breathe everything food. That will make you a great cook, but a one-dimensional human — in the end, food is a personal expression of who you are. If you are nothing more than a compendium of cookbooks and techniques, the food ultimately will lack soul. 

Yes, it is essential to read and eat and work like a donkey but also don't forget to read a novel, go to a museum, travel and see things other than restaurants. Don't forget to enjoy yourself, or else you will burn out quickly. 

Find your identity as a person and your cuisine will follow.

As told to Cassandra Landry | Original image via Mind of a Chef