The Next Iron Chef Teaches You How To Self Edit Yourself To Excellence

This is you: You know you’re great at what you do. You’re a star performer in your own right. But, are you good enough to effectively edit yourself and your instincts to beat someone else as good as or better than you?

For some reason I can’t get enough of all incarnations of what I firmly believe to be near the height of artistry – timed four star cooking challenges. Every episode I watch I learn something about myself. Stay with me here. Yes, I’ll get to The Next Iron Chef in a second.

Say for instance:

  • I am constantly reminded that people only really care about the years of hard work you spent building a reputation so they can know that when the time calls for on-your-toes excellence, you will be able to pull gold coins from your vault of experience and deliver a spectacular show.
  • You receive a different level of respect from the viewers depending on which challenger you decide to battle. We obviously know that Morimoto has an obscene battle win rate, so choosing a truly worthy competitor speaks to your self-confidence (or cockiness).
  • There are some challenges that aren’t worth getting into if you don’t clearly understand the risks (e.g. – have you made a dessert with sea cucumber?)

How this relates to The Next Iron Chef… These challenges highlight a very specific skill set (other than of course their amazing culinary skill):

Every Iron Chef has mastered the art of self-editing.

These chefs know when and how to apply flavor, textures, kitchen science, and aesthetics in that just right way to never go over the top and always be just right. The contestants on The Next Iron Chef are putting their journey to mastering this near impossible skill on television for you to wince and kaw at. Throughout their journey, you can learn a lot too.

All of this I realized after watching an episode of The Next Iron Chef one Sunday where Ming Tsai created this horrific lobster dish that seemed to be the cumulative of his entire career as a chef. (Watch the video clip here) In one bite, it was terrible. However, if he had been able to successfully self-edit himself and identify pieces of his story that meshed well with the challenge, he would have delivered something sensational.

Self-editing is a skill that few take the time to master. In the world of Customer Experience, effectively editing content, interactions, application features/functionality, and other options is critical to creating the best experience possible for your customer. I can safely say that pretty much no one cares about the design consideration in getting from the iPhone 3 to the iPhone 4, even though Apple probably had designers working on just the “touch and feel” experience for months.

Are you up for the challenge?

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