When Christine Cushing told her family she was dropping out of university to go to cooking school, there was a communal cry of “no!”
But years later, the celebrity chef has received nothing but glowing reviews and next week will be launching a new TV series teaching catastrophe-prone chefs to hold their own in the kitchen.
“Confidence is key,” Cushing says from a private supper club in Toronto’s trendy King West district.
“When you cook with confidence, your food resonates differently because whatever you do, you’re secure in that choice.”
That’s easy for her to say; Cushing grew up watching her father master recipes and says she was born with an innate talent for cooking.
Her new show, Fearless in the Kitchen, follows those who weren’t blessed with the culinary gene on their on their journey from gastronomically challenged to confident cooks.
Interested participants were asked to submit two cooking horror stories and were selected based on the severity of their incompetence. Each episode tracks the want-to-be chefs as they take on culinary challenges from catering an upscale function to working a pannini grilling station at a wedding.
Episode 1 follows Susan, a mother with a busy career who once fastened pineapple to a ham using nails. By the end of the episode, Susan successfully pulls off cocktails for more than a hundred paying customers.
“Every chef starting out needs someone to kind of champion them and get them on their feet and figure out their flaws and strengths and I think that’s my role now with lay people.”
More than 10 years after Cushing had the confidence to pursue her passion, she’s become a staple in the food industry, having hosted three TV series and launched her own product line. However, she says so far this project has been the most entertaining and challenging.
“We all have failures, things happen, kitchens blow up, you added too much salt, but you can’t be afraid of the outcome and of failure. You change it, you fix it, and you move on.”