Cookbooks: inspiration at our fingertips

One of the oddest couples I have ever met was after one of my live cooking performances at a local fair.

A woman in the distant crowd was watching the tail-end of my show and approached me afterwards.

“I can see by watching you that you love to cook,” she said.

“I can see that the crowd was inspired by your show, but my husband and I, we never cook. You could even go as far as saying that we hate to cook, so we never do it.

“You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. We never cook. We eat in restaurants, get take-out, fast food, and buy microwave prepared dinners,” she added.

I was shocked, to say the least. My first thought was, “Why are you telling me this?”

Then she went on and asked me, “I bet you can’t guess what we use our oven for?”

I shrugged my shoulders and she said, “To store cookbooks. It’s wasted space for us, so we use it as a bookshelf.”

This was the oddest thing I have ever heard. “Why do you even own cookbooks, if you don’t cook?” I asked.

“Doesn’t everybody?” she replied.

Good point. She’s right. Everyone has a collection of cookbooks, either large or small, and apparently even people that don’t cook.

I am assuming that they must have received them as gifts?

We all get into cooking ruts at times in our lives and our meals in the meantime suffer from lack of stimulation–you’re not alone. However, right there in your own home you have an assortment of cookbooks, a stack of culinary inspiration, just waiting to be opened, pondered through and explored.

I have a challenge for you. At some point over the next seven days from reading this column, I challenge you to open up one of those cookbooks.

Not one that you received as a gift, but one that you purchased yourself with your hard-earned money.
I want you to relive the moment when you bought it.

The moment when you are flipping through the pages with excitement and motivation, saying to yourself, “I gotta have this book,” as you put your cold hard cash down on the counter.

Find those recipes again, and this time, make them.

Motivation can easily be stimulated from outside sources (such as cookbook recipes in this case), but true motivation comes from within you. You have to take that first step, the steps that follow, and the final step to make something happen.

If you are truly discouraged with the same old meals you are making, you will find a way to make this happen.

Many cookbooks simply just gather dust because we either forget about them, or more likely find that there is too much emotional pain to learn new recipes and we stick with what we know… it’s easier.

I guarantee you this however, if you take the steps, and keep trying (even through times of possible mistakes or failures), you will succeed.

Your meals will become new again and with any luck you will find happiness in your new found inspiration that has been there, waiting for you, all along.

I could at this time also make the suggestion of searching the internet for recipe ideas, but I think that with your vested interest in the cookbooks you have already purchased, you will be more driven (and in the end, more fulfilled) to create this victory yourself.

Please feel free to email me at to tell me about your cooking adventures in this challenge.

I would love to hear from you.

Happy cooking!

Chef Dez is a chef, writer and host.
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