“I’ve been doing the work all these years, so you don’t have to.”

I told her. “Actually, it hasn’t been work for me because I love every minute of it.”

That’s what I tell all my clients when they ask how I learned to do what I do.

Let me tell you a bit about myself.  

I remember standing in the kitchen on a chair, overlooking the stove, watching what was going on in the pots and pans in which my mother was cooking  dinner.

When I was 11 years old,

after years of of making all styles of eggs, french toast, pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and roasting marshmallows over the open flame of the stovetop (there were some real messes there), I got an idea in my head.

From a drawer in the kitchen filled with paperback recipe books from the 50’s, I pulled out all the material I could about baking, and dessert making. I decided I was gonna start making desserts, baking cookies, cakes, pies puddings.


I started making lists of ingredients and cajoled my mom into buying all the things I needed to go to work on my self-imposed apprenticeship. I wanted to be the best I could be, and the criteria could only be based on my own satisfaction with what I produced.  

Luckily, I don’t really know why, maybe because growing up in New York in the 50′ and 60’s there were lots of neighborhood bakeries run by real old world bakers using real ingredients……….and there were commercial bakeries, manufacturing mass produced baked goods with preservatives, and artificial ingredients, made in mechanized facilities, and I could discern the difference.   I set my sights to surpass the tastes, textures, and appearances of what I knew existed, at least in my narrow 11 year old experience. 

I wasn’t so much caught up in the eating of the stuff per se, as I was in to producing a sensually pleasing result that seeing, smelling, tasting, created for me, and of course for those who got to join me.

In the beginning I was a bit slow and clumsy when it came to rolling out a pie crust, or separating the egg whites from the yolks, but I was unrelenting, constantly striving to smooth out the bumps, and streamline the process, which also meant cleaning up after myself, in the kitchen.

Through trial and error, I learned that recipes didn’t really tell the whole story.

I had to understand how different ingredients behaved when combined, like butter and sugar for instance. I had to be patient if the butter was too cold, when the recipe said “cream” the butter and the sugar. If the ingredients didn’t spend enough time in the mixer, the sugar would remain granulated and create a drier end result, but if I took my time, I would see the mixture suddenly change texture as whatever was holding the granules together would sudden lose it’s grip and a fluffy, smooth, glossy appearance informed me I had reached a perfect moment, and that single phase of my mission was accomplished.

This was true of many of the phases required to mix a cake batter.  So….through patient trial and error, and more mistakes than I care to admit, I learned how to control each step of the process, until I could not only follow a recipe, I became able to design my own recipes, using techniques and ingredients to create new and original combinations.

What I possessed back then was an unshakable belief that I could do it,

and I had the willingness and patience to fail and start over again, learning not only from what didn’t work, but also from what did, and always keeping the sensual details of what I was aiming for unblemished. I would accept the result I got each time, and joyfully start anew…sometimes the same day, in order to perfect my ability to consistently get the outcome I was aiming for.

The kitchen became my cave, it was where I learned to be busy and at rest at the same time. Lost in my fascination, I became myself, on my own, installing and reinforcing a formula for success into myself on you could say a cellular level. I sweated and worked at it. My family thought I was possessed, but they kept quiet.

After all, They got the benefit of my fascination.Hen and her chicks  

Like the old Woody Allen joke,

“A guy who has been seeing a psychiatrist for several months, is walking down the street one day,  with his brother, when they run into him.  The one who is the patient says, “Hi Doc, I’d like you to meet my brother. Pointing to the brother he adds, “He thinks he’s a chicken.”

The psychiatrist looks at the brother than back to his patient and says, “Bring him by the office, I’ll see if I can help him.”

“No thanks Doc,” the patient says, “We need the eggs.”

What’s your story? Are you using the narrative of “you” to keep you stuck or to propel you to the perfected result of “you” fulfilled?

Get ready to “Unlock the Vault” where your most powerful stories are waiting to see the light of day.

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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  1. paz
    10 years ago

    Hi Mark!
    I enjoyed reading your story. your fascination in cooking and baking, brought to my attention as a kid at about same age as you are in the story.
    i remember myself playing with my mom sowing kit (box) where she had all old garments that she kept (one day maybe?), buttons, and different types of trimmings. once the clothing was ragged and old she used to take the clothing apart and keep the possible in that box. back then everything was recycled, lets say the bread dried out my mom would warm up the milk with a bit of sugar toss the bread in, and we HAD! to eat it!!!. same with clothing, so i grew up enjoying the color threads in that box and sawing things that today i don’t even think i knew what was there purpose but sawing on the buttons and trimming was… for me a way to explore and learn. Thanks<Paz

    • admin
      10 years ago


      Thank you so much for your comment.
      As children, we are so impressionable, we absorb everything, useful and not so useful equally.

      Now looking back, you can see the roots of your fascination with color, clothing, fashion. I bet you have an awareness of knowing when something (clothing, style) is “just right” because you feel it as a sensation. As children we develop these awarenesses, but out of the realm of thought, and they are grown organically. By the time you are an adult you find you have what seems to be a 6th sense, when actually you learned it, but can’t really remember that you did. There’s a book called “Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle that speaks to how this happens. Worth reading so you can begin to have an awareness of where your daughters’ attention flows naturally, and then enrich that, merely by making whatever resources they need available.


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