Win Today with Christopher Cook

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Four Valuable Fundamentals of Life Learned from “Chef”

A few weeks ago, one of my best friends and I watched Chef, a remarkable film released in 2014, written, produced, and directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf).

Chef is the story of a prominent executive chef, Carl Casper (played by Jon Favreau), who, after publicly confronting a spiteful food critic in the dining room of his restaurant, loses his restaurant job. In an effort to revive his passion and creativity, Casper jaunts across the country to start a food truck, all while striving to rebuild the relationships with his estranged family, particularly his 11-year-old son, Percy (played by Emjay Anthony).

What struck me most (besides the tantalizing food) was the raw tenacity and rebound displayed by Carl Casper after having his career and reputation dismantled on a national scale. Thanks to the faithfulness and encouragement of his friend, Martin (played by John Leguizamo), his son, Percy, and even his ex-wife, Inez (played by Sofia Vergara), Casper turned personal tragedy into personal and public triumph.

Four valuable life lessons emerged while watching the film; four lessons that we all should embrace, whether perched atop the mountain, or trudging through the valley.

1.) Flourish in Your Lane

“I may not do everything great in my life, but I’m good at this. I manage to touch people’s lives with what I do and I want to share this with you.” – Chef Carl Casper

Stepping out of your comfort zone, trying new things, and taking faith-filled risks in life is vital for growth and forward momentum, but there is no denying the place of convergence between your greatest passion and your raw, undeniable, God-given talent. When you continually strive to do what God hasn’t graced to do, you’ll end up frustrated and burned out. However, when you do what you were created to do, there’s a priceless, deep-seated sense of purpose and fulfillment that only comes by aligning with your true identity. Stay in your lane and flourish!

2.) Criticism Will Either Break You or Build You

(Reading the restaurant review by restaurant critic Ramsey Michel) “The signature app, intended to impress the country club brunch crowd, is the caviar egg. A shirred egg topped with a dollop of caviar is an excuse for the chef to overcharge us for his insecurity and lack of imagination. Carl Casper can be best summed up by the first bite of his needy, and yet, by some miracle, also irrelevant chocolate lava cake.” – Chef Carl Casper

When criticism arrives at your doorstep, how do you react? I don’t know too many people that adore criticism, even when it’s true. It’s tough to look in the mirror and ask the hard questions, but in doing so, we grow and find clarity. And growth builds us. We all have blind spots, but mature people are teachable people, people who respond, not react.

While some individuals are just looking to rain on our parade, it’s not true about all people. Proverbs 27:6 says “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.” Do the wounds hurt? Certainly. But I’m confident that the same people who deliver those “faithful wounds” will stand by your side with a towel and coach you back to health, focus, and purpose.

3.) Don’t Abandon Your Most Important Relationships While Pursuing Your Dreams

Central to the plot of Chef is Carl Casper’s relationship with his 11-year-old son, Percy, of whom he has joint custody with his ex-wife, Inez. The relationship between Casper and his son, though strained early on, is repaired as Casper turns his affection from professional accolades to something (someone) much greater. The lesson translates easily: don’t abandon your most important relationships while pursuing your dreams.

One of the most sobering realities I’m extremely grateful for is the awareness that my life speaks volumes to a lot of people; people who consider me a leader, mentor, and an example to follow. The worst thing to happen would be to spend my life pursuing “something” without taking the time to build “someone.” People are our greatest asset in life!

4.) Beyond Pain is a Blank Canvas for Dreams

“A food truck’s a great idea. We’re talking about a white-on-white, ’88 Chevy food truck. It’s a blank canvas for your dreams. I’m going to have them pull it around.” – Martin, Carl Casper’s close friend

New possibilities emerge with a change of scenery. When you step outside the box of familiarity, disappointment, past failure, and cynicism, you will have the ability to look at life with a new perspective, and that new perspective opens your eyes to even greater possibilities.

Please note: “Chef” is rated R for some language and suggestive material.

    Such a great post Chris! Thanks for sharing your insight AND for giving me an excuse to stop at Redbox on my way home ;D

    • Thanks! I appreciate you and Chris SO much. And…it’s an awesome movie. 🙂 See you both soon!

  • Toni Langdon

    OMG! I love this movie and I love what you had to say about it! Great words of wisdom! I found you over at the Michael Hyatt facebook page and I’m looking forward to following your posts in the future! Much love,Toni

    • Thanks so much, Toni! Your words are incredibly encouraging! The easiest way to stay connected is by subscribing. In addition, I just released a brand-new e-book entitled “The Time-Tested Secrets of Affordable & Exciting Meal Planning.” That book is free upon subscribing. 🙂 Have a great Wednesday!