Cooking is an incredibly divisive activity. Some people love spending their time in the kitchen, whilst others find it a monotonous chore.
You may feel that in order to become a chef you must find cooking to be great fun. In reality, before you start learning, the odds of cooking already being the love of your life are quite long.
As a previous chef, I find cooking to be incredibly good fun. Much like sporting activities, there are highs and lows, but it is all part of the game. Cooking isn’t always easy, but the game of cooking is certainly always fun.
Like many activities, the enjoyment of cooking comes from seeing yourself progress and improve. To become a chef (or vegetarian chef) we don’t have to already love being in the kitchen. Instead, it is more important that we are keen to learn and love the idea of being a chef as an overall career package.
This article aims to answer some of the most common questions regarding why cooking is so much fun so any reader can begin to fall in love with the process. Even if the idea of becoming a chef is your worse nightmare and a basic enjoyment of cooking is all you hope to gain!
Why Do I Hate Cooking?
Before beginning my chef career I wouldn’t say I hated cooking but I didn’t get the same level of enjoyment as I learnt to experience later on in life.
In my experience, the level of cooking enjoyment is related to our ability levels. There are few people with the zen level of calm needed to enjoy an activity which they are truly terrible at.
Most people I have come across during my catering career which hate cooking, do so because they are terrible at it. Having never been taught how to cook, any attempts to do so usually end in a stressful disaster.
Fortunately, just a small input of effort in order to learn the basics can turn this hatred around. Courses can be a great way to achieve this providing a chance to learn whilst having some fun with other like minded people.
For those less confident there are so many YouTube channels devoted to teaching cooking; all completely for free. Simply set up your phone in the kitchen with your favourite channel and away you go.
Those that hate cooking tend to view it as a chore, compared to those who enjoy it and view cooking as a hobby (7 reasons why cooking isn’t hard).
Is Cooking A Hobby?
Cooking is no different to playing a sport or learning any other type of activity.
Cooking is a hobby because it is a set of skills that need to be learnt in order to progress and enjoy ourselves. Those that do not enjoy cooking tend to shy away from it, in the same way as any hobby which we start and discover is not for us.
Some may argue that as we have to cook in order to eat, cooking is not a hobby but rather a necessity for survival. This may have been better argued years ago.
With the increased availability of quick ready meals and doorstep deliveries those that do not want to cook can get through entire weeks avoiding the kitchen with surprising ease.
However, as eating is a necessity in life, and ready meals have very questionable nutritional value, cooking is a hobby that many people would benefit from investing some time into.
One may argue that cooking is the most popular hobby in the world.
In order to enjoy cooking as a hobby (so that we actually want to partake in it) we need to make it fun.
How Can I Make Cooking Fun?
In order to get the benefits from cooking, we need to make it a fun activity. This is not as daunting as it sounds.
In my experience as a chef, cooking becomes fun when we become proficient at it. Learning the basics such as simple knife skills and foundation recipes allows us to relax and enjoy the experience, rather than just wanting to get to the end result.
The end result, ie the meal served on the table, is one part of the cooking process. If we go into it with the attitude that we have to cook in order to feed ourselves we will struggle to enjoy it.
Here are my Top 5 Tips for Making Cooking Fun:
- Learn a few simple recipes that you can replicate time and time again
- Cooking any dish for the first time is likely to be difficult, don’t be discouraged. Try the same dish again a week later and you’ll be amazed how much easier it becomes.
- Put a wet cloth under your chopping board to stop it moving. A board that is slipping and sliding around is my absolute pet hate, and a recipe for frustration. Find more tips on our chopping board article here.
- Invest in one good knife. You need not rush out to buy a whole set of expensive knives. One good quality chefs knife will cover you for 90% of situations. Victorinox are a good quality budget brand which I would recommend (linked to their website here)
- Get other people involved. Others do not have to actually help with the cooking but just being there in the kitchen for a chat makes the whole experience much more communal and fun.
In my opinion the communal aspect is really important. If you are slaving away in the kitchen whilst others are sat in front of the TV it is highly likely cooking will feel like a chore.
Chatting whilst cooking makes the whole evening special. The long slow cooking process becomes the process with the crescendo being enjoying the meal itself.
Instead of cooking being a chore our aim is to make it enjoyable so the whole process makes us happy.
Does Cooking Make You Happy?
As a chef it will come as no surprise that cooking makes me happy. I find the whole process incredibly cathartic. No matter what kind of day I have had at work, it is my chance to slow down and take some time to do something I enjoy.
- When I was working in professional kitchens, even though I did it everyday, cooking still made me happy. There are many challenges to being a chef but cooking is the happiness which keeps many glued to an otherwise very demanding career.
Chefs like me who have left the industry will often tell you that it wasn’t the cooking which made them unhappy. It was the other parts of the industry such as long hours and low wages which made the career difficult. You can find out more about professional kitchen set ups here.
Now I am in a very fortunate position to be able to spend my evenings leisurely cooking and playing around with food. Cooking has become a hobby that I get to do every day.
Those with high pressure jobs may struggle to find time for their hobbies, such as going to the gym or playing music. It is a lot easier to make time to cook as this is a necessity every day.
When cooking makes us happy, and we get to do it every day, this is a recipe for a enriched and well balanced life.
So am I in the minority? Am I speaking from a chef’s point of view when in reality most people really hate cooking?
Do Most People Enjoy Cooking?
In my experience, most people enjoy cooking to some level. Many find cooking to be a therapeutic and enjoyable experience and discover taking pleasure in the simple things in life is a great route to happiness.
I asked some friends and family why they did or did not enjoy cooking. From my very unscientific survey I discovered some similarities in the two camps of people.
Some of those asked simply have no interest in food, whether cooking or eating it. This group of people are happy eating for sustenance and nothing more.
Perhaps you know someone in the staff canteen who eats the same lunch every single day and can’t see why that would be a problem?
Some of those I asked surprised me. They enjoyed food and the experience of eating out but ‘wished they could cook themselves.’ Cooking seemed to them to be a skill that others are born with, and that they are unable to master.
I feel like it is important to get people to enjoy cooking if we ever hope to tackle the obesity problems and general health issue caused by poor diets all over the world.
The obvious place to look at is schools. In the UK at least, the amount of time devoted to food technology is very low. If we do not teach children how to cook then as adults they will struggle and not enjoy it.
However to point the finger at the already stretched school system may be unfair.
The access to free education is now huge. The range of YouTube channels, podcasts, blogs etc devoted to teaching cooking is vast. If we take the time to learn how to cook then I really believe we can all find enjoyment in it.