Tag Archives: movie

Giving What They Need vs. Giving What They Want

Go watch The Chef.

It is the best food-related film since Jiro Dreams of Sushi. There is an awesome soundtrack to accompany the food porn as well. With El Michels Affair & Roberto Roena playing on the background, it is automatic 4 stars for me. Also it has social media playing quite integral part in the storytelling, which was actually surprisingly fresh.

While the main plotline is a story about father and son, the movie is really about passion. Chef Carl Casper is bored in his job heading successful but predictable restaurant. The owner wants to play it safe, while Carl would want to make food he truly believes. After public meltdown and some social media trolling, he eventually finds his groove by putting on a food truck.

Does that sound familiar?

Do you feel that sometimes we are just doing what the client wants but not really what he needs?
That is essentially the biggest challenge in our work. People think they know what they want, but they don´t really know what they need. Consumers did not know they needed iPad, Crossfit or many other things. This applies to agency personnel as well. We might want to do something, but it might not be right for client either.

Working in kitchen is not that far away from working in agency. Both are balancing in this thin line of creative expression and commercial reality. Restaurants are essentially feeding you. Agencies are helping you sell more. How they do it is the most interesting bit. In both fields, there are three-start Michelin restaurants and there are fast food chains. The problems start when someone demands Bic Mac in Noma or vice versa. We are not artists in agencies, but we are not servants either.

We should always fight to have the most effective creative solution for the business problem. Sometimes it means giving tough love: both to clients and agency personnel. Ability to come up with ideas is one thing, but if you do not fight for those ideas, it does not really mean a thing.  If you are too eager to please, you are not really doing the right thing. I don´t regret any instance, when I have put my stake on the ground and tried to fight for the great idea. What I regret are the times, when I have let it go without a fight to avoid confrontation or make it more easy. Every time the end result has been crap (or at least not that good as it could be).

When you stop fighting for your work, it is time to quit.
Without passion, this field of work (and cooking as well) is just too draining. There are less time-consuming ways to get paid.

So let your passion show in your work every day. Sometimes that might mean raised voices, hurt feelings and occasional meltdowns.

But so what?

Those things make the difference between 3-star Michelin dish and the Bic Mac.

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How Making Sushi Helps You Find The Perfection

Every professional, whether they like sushi or not, should see the following movie:

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is probably one of the most impressive documentaries I have seen this year. It tells the life story of 85-year old Jiro Ono, who is regarded as one of (if not) the best shokunin. That means sushi chef and also mastery of profession in Japanese. His restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro is probably only 3-star Michelin restaurant which is located in MRT station.

The movie is not really about coking, altough you get a decent amount of food porn and sushi money shots in the film. It is about finding the true mastery, searching the perfection and finding the meaning of life (in work). While I tend to get my nigiris from the store, there are many lessons everyone should learn from Jiro. You can be shokunin in other professions as well:

1. Inspiration (Perspiration)
Becoming a sushi master takes years and years or hard work. You first start with washing dishes and gradually move to the more difficult tasks. If you have been succesful as an apprentice, maybe after a decade you are worthy to cook the tamagoyaki. This means thousands of repetitions, iterations and failures in your working career. Good example of this in the movie is when apprentice explains how he started to cry, when he finally made egg sushi which was adequate quality for the sushi masters. He had made hundreds of attempts of making it the best.
There is never shortcut for mastery, just one way: the hard way.

2. Improvisation
The menu of good restaurant changes daily, according to what is available on the local fish market. Same way the business climate and situations vary every day and are not necessarily related to you at all. You have to find ways to cope, adapt and challenge these situations. The outcome must be great in any case.
You have to able to reach perfection, despite the circumstances.

3. Innovation
Despite the strong appreciation of the traditions, good shokunin also innovates. Jiro himself has been inventor of many sushi dishes, which did not exist before him. Like the title of the movie suggests, he used to dream about different ways to make sushi and then fulfilled those dreams in his restaurant. In similar fashion as professionals we have to keep on moving and constantly re-inventing ourselves. Otherwise we end up doing the same thing over and over again. Eventually we realize that no one wants that same thing anymore.
Knowing the history is worthless, if you are not willing to change it.

Also Jiro teaches us one important lesson: there is no retirement for true master. I hope that when I will be almost 90 year old, I am still going strong and try to find perfection.

Are you shokunin in your work?

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