AndyTalk: Why I Cook in Clown Shoes

Someplace in my house is a pedometer that I haven't seen in years. I wore it twice - both times on days when I taught back-to-back cooking classes. Two classes in a day is a crazy-busy day. I wanted to see how far I walked on a two-class day.

It turns out that I walk about 10 miles on such a day. In a space of 1,447 square feet that is a lot of back-and-forth. In fact, it's about 10,000 steps per foot. I'm pretty sure it defines my job as "active." It definitely makes me aware of my feet. It's also a glass-half-full kind of thing, because it gives me an excuse for having a lot of shoes.

People pay me for my taste in food, not shoes. I tell them to add salt and or pepper to a recipe, cook something longer, chop something finer, and occasionally to start over. They're at the mercy of my subjective assessments.

Good food ought to include some element of the spectacular. Think about the best steak you ever ate - I'll bet it was simple in terms of ingredients, but somehow it was phenomenal.

My yellow shoes are special because they bring comfort, stability, and some style to me - and my kitchen. They draw attention away from the food splattered on my clothes. I spend a lot of hours in my kitchen. It's a gilded cage, but it's my gilded cage. It's a place where yellow shoes fit in.

A decade ago I wouldn't have worn yellow shoes. I'd have wanted to, but I wouldn't have. Now I wonder how I could get through a week without my yellow clown shoes. You read that right - I only wear them about once a week. I like pizza too, but not every night. I have Campers in a more sedate brown, in lace-wing green (my first pair that I got in Tokyo), and a pair of black and red ones too. Clown shoes are a diverse lot.

My yellow shoes bring something to the synthesis that is me. If I was from the UK I'd say that they're brilliant - in an understated and weirdly butch sort of way. They help me get noticed and help me fit in. I'd be fine without them, but I'd be too bland to suit my taste. Wearing them makes me smile, and I think that when I'm happy I make better food.

And that is why I cook in clown shoes.

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.

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