Before I wanted to be an actress or a writer or a filmmaker, I wanted a pie. My step-mother loves to tell this story, and truth be told, I love to hear her say the words over again because it makes me feel like I’m good at something. Not good at something like my mother is good at knitting or my husband is good at making pictures. But good at something…effortlessly. In that fantasy way that you think of when you think people have a “talent” for something. Natural born runners. Or painters. Or mathematicians. When someone can just do something, we think they have talent…
When I made my first pie, I was about ten. I never really liked pie but for some reason, in the grocery store with my step-mother, I announced that I wanted an apple pie, thinking of pre-packaged Hostess thing with the green and white wrapper and super sugary shell coating. Instead of buying me one of those, she bought me the ingredients for a homemade apple pie and we went home and we made it. I was a relative stranger to the kitchen – cooking was not one of those arts that was really passed down to me the way it is in some families and I don’t remember anyone really enjoying preparing meals. Both my mothers fed us, to be sure, but meals were…more functional than anything else, and preparing them was not a group activity. So making this pie was kind of a big deal, and, unbeknownst to me, a little stressful for my step-mom. I was blissfully ignorant of how difficult pie making can be, but she was not, and she feared that my first pie might…turn out really bad.
Miraculously, it was not. In fact, it was the exact opposite of really bad. It was perfect. Including the homemade crust. Perfect. Without really trying, I somehow managed to make a perfect butter crust. I had no idea what I was doing. And I think that was the key – I had no experience in this area and no one had ever told me how hard it was to do what I was doing, so it wasn’t.
Since then I’ve made a lot of pie and almost all of them have been pretty close to perfect. I don’t mean to say that I haven’t had pie far better than the pie I make. Without a doubt I have. But generally speaking, whatever I put in the oven comes out well. My husband says this is because I love to eat, and he’s right. I am highly motivated to cook because I love to eat and I love the whole process of eating – starting with finding the (hopefully new) thing to make, writing the list, doing the shopping (especially if it involves a specialty market I’ve never been to), bringing it home, cleaning, chopping, preparing pans, measuring, mixing, cooking and, finally, setting something beautiful and delicious in front of someone else, and myself, and eating. This is the perfect way to spend an entire weekend – simply cooking.
I have never wanted to make a career out of cooking and I still don’t now. I love cooking and would no sooner be paid to do it than I’d be paid to love people. That doesn’t make sense to me. What I love to get paid for is forming teams, project management, and culture building. I’ve done this all my life, most recently in the service of movies, because I love being on a team with a common goal that is important to all of us and movies, almost as much as eating, have been a huge part of my life. Now that I’m in business school, though, I realize the need to “specialize,” to find my “USP”…to figure out how I’m going to stand out from this teaming mass of other educated, talented and unemployed people. And as I was sitting in a seminar yesterday morning, listening to people who had been in business a long time, telling me once again that I needed to specialize it hit me; food. Of course. Food. You love food. You don’t have to cook it. You just have to sell it. You just have to be on a team that sells food and loves it as much as you do. And in fact, I can’t think of a better way to spend my days than around other people who love food. Not artisans, not chefs – that’s private to me and for intimate moments at home. But I can sell Lean Cuisine. Or I can sell PF Changs. Or I can sell Tootsie Rolls. I can sell any of it. Just the same as I sold SAW IV and I sold IRON MAN and I sold LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. I can sell food.
Finally, a focus.