Opening the Mystery Basket

I’ve been intending to launch Fyood’s blog a while now but haven’t known where to begin.

There’s the entire world of flavor, cooking techniques, and thousands of other food-related topics. There’s the creative process at-large, how to navigate a kitchen, and why Portland, Maine is such a splendid place to live, eat, and start a business.

Then I realized, why not cut straight to the chase? For this first blog post, let’s talk about the meaning of life – which is found in a mystery basket, of all places.

What fires me up about Fyood

The other day, my friend Ffej asked what aspects of Fyood spoke to me the most.

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Ffej is one of the elite group of Fyoodies who have already played on both sides of the judging table, a repeat Best Dish winner, and a wonderfully perceptive human being.

Here’s what I said:

     1. Eating great food is fun

     2. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that cooking can be just as fun, and that you don’t usually have to follow strict rules to make something taste good.

     3. I love enabling Fyoodies to enjoy cooking without any of the chores that usually go along with it.

     4. To me, bringing people together around food is one of the simplest and deepest ways to express love.

     5. I can’t get over the creativity cooks use to take the same mystery ingredients in incredibly different directions.

What do my favorite parts of Fyood have to do with the meaning of life? 

Later in our conversation, I told Ffej about my personal goals for the year, the most daunting of which is to learn how to live more vulnerably. I’ve never been all that comfortable sharing personal details, and I’m slowly seeing that instead of protecting myself, I’ve actually been holding back from connecting with others.

I finally realized this was a problem while filming Fyood’s Kickstarter video last month. I had a hard time putting 100% of myself into what I was saying – or even 50% when we first started recording. This was a tough wake-up call. I care so deeply about Fyood, but my reticence to let myself be seen trying turned out to be stronger. I was acting against my own interests.


Behind-the-scenes while filming Fyood’s Kickstarter video with Charlie Foxtrot Films.

It turns out that learning how to welcome vulnerability and try despite the chance of failure might just be the secret to everything: great relationships, meaningful work, and – of no lesser importance – delicious food. Vulnerability, according to researcher Brené Brown, isn’t weakness, but a willingness to try.

Well, what’s Fyood about if not trying?! When you open the mystery basket, you could find almost literally anything. It’s the willingness to face the unknown and survive through those first 10 seconds of blank-minded panic that makes finding a creative solution to the challenge of the mystery ingredients so fulfilling.


Atti, Katonya and Carl process the mystery ingredients, including Baron’s Blaze hot sauce from The Maine Saucery.

For Fyoodies who want more on vulnerability, Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability is poignant, personal, and ranks in the Top 10 most popular TED Talks ever. Be careful: it might inspire a whole paradigm shift when you’re not looking.

What does this all mean?

I realized that the challenge-accepted attitude exhibited by Fyoodies easily deserves a spot on my short list for the best thing about Fyood. It’s pretty badass to say, “No matter how unfamiliar or tough the mystery ingredients might be,  I’ll give this my best shot.” 

There are so many right answers in cooking, but you have to be willing to take chances in order to discover them.


Julia Child said, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

All respect to the Queen, but I’m starting to believe that stumbling block is getting too much credit. It’s not the lack of fear that allows you to succeed; it’s feeling the fear and opening the mystery basket anyway.

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