What Executives Can Learn from Cooking Shows

Cooking shows are the best. The chefs on the show are cooking in these clean, picturesque kitchens that never get messy. The equipment is newly polished, bright and gleaming. The ingredients are fresh and untouched, brightly colored fruits and bottles beautifully accenting the picture as if they were placed just for that purpose.

Then the chef walks in. His/her knives look new. (I wish I had PA’s to sharpen and polish my knives before I cooked.) He chops quickly and effortlessly, explaining his actions all the while. The dish comes together quickly without any piece being overcooked. When it’s done, it’s elegantly presented in clean dishes with no water stains. Then they dig in and enjoy.

Now, the people on cooking shows have the best equipment, most expensive ingredients, and years of training and skill development. But there’s a trick they have that good chefs and restaurants employ that we can all apply. The technique is


Mise en place simply means putting everything in place. Before a chef starts cooking, they prepare the necessary ingredients – washing, slicing, chopping, dicing – so that when they start cooking, everything is ready in nice little bowls.

That’s what lets the people on cooking shows get things done so quickly. All of the stuff they need to get done is finished before the camera rolls. All that remains is to throw everything together.

We also can practice our own version of mise en place wherever we work. All it involves is thinking ahead of time of what we’ll need and preparing them so they’re handy. As a campus missionary, I can’t imagine that there would ever be a time where one could be bored. There’s always something else we could be working on. We could be reading and improving our skills. We could be meeting with people and developing deeper relationships. We can definitely pray and gain strength from our relationship with God.

When I observe people that I respect and admire – leaders in their field, excellent both at work and at home, whose lives have made an impact for the better – one sees that much of what we admire is only the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath the surface are years of preparation – mise en place, if you will. They prepare relentlessly and the world gets to watch and marvel as they throw everything together.

So don’t be wasting time. Bring out your knife and chopping board and so that you can have things mise en place.

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