After cooking dinner and doing dishes, I unwound tonight by watching Chopped on the Food Network. If you haven’t watched it, it’s great. It’s similar to most cooking competition shows out there, but with more exotic ingredient combinations and each show is its own self-contained competition for $10,000. The contestants start with a basket of ingredients, and must make an appetizer using all the ingredients (and whatever they want from the pantry) in 20 minutes. Then, they repeat with an entree and a dessert, ’til one person is crowned the winner. When a lot of interesting and creative cooking is combined with a timer, you get great television.

As entertaining as Chopped and other cooking shows (Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Iron Chef, etc…) might be, I find them particularly facsinating because I love cooking. Really, I just love food. I enjoy the challenge and adventure that food presents. Nature provides us with naturally delicious things (for the most part), and we have the responsibility to draw out their natural flavors and the opportunity to create new combinations. Not only are there infinite possibilities, but no two dishes are the same. Plus, cooking creates beauty and can instill joy in someone. Some of my most cherished memories of family and friends are deeply rooted in the smells and tastes that mixed and mingled with our conversation and laughter. Helping create those memories, or even make my wife smile once, is a large part of why I love to cook.

Right now, I cook because I need to eat (and God knows my wife can’t cook), I enjoy it, and I can control (kinda) how it tastes. I’m not that great, but I am getting better and better with each chicken breast, pizza, chili, and salad–not to mention the plethora of cooking shows I watch (although, thankfully, I am no longer a slave to the Food Network!). I sometimes wonder, though, what it might look like to have a career in cooking. Could I have what it takes to be a chef? This interest in cooking isn’t anywhere near usurping my call to ministry, but maybe it can serve that calling? Is there such a thing as a pastor-chef? Some sort of food ministry? I know there are soup kitchens, but…the one food I don’t really like is soup. I can get behind the soup kitchen idea, but could never be a soup kitchen chef. Maybe God will use me for a few years or decades, and I’ll pursue cooking as a later vocation? For now, though, I’ll stick to making regular meals, occasionally wowing my wife, and sharing smiles and adventures with good food.