Every Sunday, I pamper myself with facial treatment and body massage. But before that, I treat myself to a set breakfast at one of the fast food restaurants rather than the usual cereal, toast and espresso at home not for the food quality but for a break from the weekday routine.
So this Sunday, I arrived at the food court at around 8. I noticed that the restaurant on this floor which only opens at noon was already bustling with activities. I couldn’t help watching what they were doing.
The two young men in crisp white uniforms were preparing fruit and cream sponge cakes. One was whisking egg whites while the other was applying coats of cream to the cake. They were focused paying no attention to me who was staring curiously at them through the glass divider. That was four hours before the restaurant was to open. I was sure that they were not the only two staff working. There should be even more in the kitchen - arranging, organizing, cutting, dicing, slicing, peeling, defrosting, boiling, blanching and tenderizing etc.
The French names this whole process as the Mise en place literally means “set in place”. That means all is ready before the actual cooking. The hours of preparation work are to ensure that the whole cooking process can be smooth and efficient and that perfect dishes can be brought to the customers’ tables at the soonest.
I stood there feeling the greatest respect for them and telling myself not to gobble my food again but to nibble and savour every mouthful! I also learnt a life lesson - preparation is the key to success! The greatest inventor of all, Alexander Graham Bell, had put it so aptly. “Luck” is but “an opportunity” and for success to be ensured, there must be good preparation!
The recipe is simple: success = opportunity + readiness!