This notion, titled above, began and evolved before my arrival at Pepperfield. From its inception this trip was intended to expand my knowledge of food. I desired to learn how many of the products I use on a regular basis are created. I had interests in acquiring some of this knowledge for both future applications and to begin to further develop my respect for food. One of my goals was to participate in all the steps – intensive labor and intimate care – required to propagate plants, specifically fruits and vegetables, and animals. Being in the industry for the last seven years I believe that I began to lose sight of some of this. It’s easy to become disconnected from food when its acquisition is boiled down to a basic interaction; rather than going to a store or market to look at products, I would just pick up the phone and place an order to one of the purveyors. I wanted to correct my mindset: food doesn’t just come off the shelf or off a truck. This trip was also to act as my sabbatical. I noticed, unfortunately later than desired, that my environment – high stress and pressure – was beginning to transform me into someone else. For better and worse I developed and grew, learning a lot about myself and the world around me, at the expense of my happiness and that of my co-workers and acquaintances.
As I took the 1600-mile drive across the nation my brain began the transition. A combination of reading and thinking helped me realize that I wanted to make changes in my operation as a chef, but as an individual too. Subconsciously, this was where the refining of my food philosophy commenced. These thoughts perpetuated even further during my brief stay at my uncles for Easter. I prepared the evening’s meal and shared my methods and thought processes with anyone interested. But it wasn’t until the actual meal that I began to observe the potential growth I could achieve. Sitting among a lawyer, theoretical physicists, writers, a naturalist, and a clergyman, all new acquaintances, the evening unfolded into discussions about food, politics, religion and philosophy. I remember saying to my uncle, “I don’t think I ever have participated in conversations stimulating as those.” I realized I was in an intelligent environment where I could learn about topics and ideas about food and life that never had occurred to me.
But that wasn’t the end. The next day I drove out to Pepperfield and began to settle in. I was given a warm greeting, with some delicious snacks, by David. We proceeded to talk for the rest of the day about my history and what I hoped to achieve while here. I told David my goals – same as detailed above – and left it open ended by stating, “I don’t know what else I want to learn, I’m here to take it all in.” The week that followed was where my ideas about my future, both at Pepperfield and in life, were rocked to their core. David asked me brilliant thought provoking questions that caused me to delve deeper into my conscious than I have previously. He has made me question my beliefs, the natural – and unnatural – universe, my predispositions, strengths and flaws, and my capacity in the food and hospitality industry. My understanding of what I hoped to learn began to broaden and my mind has never been more open.
I expect my purpose for coming to Pepperfield will continue to evolve, like it already has. I am excited to learn about the intricacies of food through direct participation and learning to develop a legitimate understanding and respect for everything that is responsible for the creation of food. I’m thrilled to begin the process of defining who I am and identifying who I hope to become. And anxious with anticipation to see what my future holds. I have felt more relaxed, grounded, open and happy then I ever have. I have concluded that my only real purpose is to – as the Pepperfield mission states – grow my body, mind and spirit.