Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Key to Salsa is Passion

I recently spent a very passionate four days in Chicago with 14 other people. I was at the inaugural meeting of the Jenn-Air Appliances Design Advisory Council, of which I am a member. This is an intense group of designers, architects and industry professionals that Jenn-Air has assembled to advise the company on a myriad of topics. Needless to say, when you get in a roomful of designers and architects, everyone's pretty sure that they're right. But I don't see this as ego; I see it as passion.

During the four-day event, we met with representatives of each of the departments at Jenn-Air--cooking, refrigeration, dishwashing, etc.--and were even allowed to see and give our feedback on prototype appliances that won't hit the market for a few years (insert confidentiality agreement here). The thing that stood out most about the Jenn-Air individuals who presented to us was their passion for their product. This wasn't a meeting to just get us to head-nod at their ideas; they wanted honest and real feedback from the group and honest and real feedback they got.

One night the group had dinner at a restaurant called "Moto." The restaurant was chosen because of its innovation, which had been an ongoing theme during our meetings. The restaurant and food are a science-based theme. Most of the food looked nothing like you thought it would taste, or tasted nothing like it looked. The chefs at Moto break their recipes down not just to the ingredient level but down to the molecular level, and then reassemble them in unique and innovative ways. Even beyond that, it was the wait staff that blew me away. Our waiters John Vegas, Chakra and Trevor, pictured below, were really REALLY passionate about their job. As a matter of fact I don't think they would call it a job. To them it was more of an adventure in food. These were young men, in their early 20s, and to have them be a) so knowledgeable, b) so passionate about their work and c) so fun, clever and creative was refreshing when, quite honestly, this age group is usually a little lost. I think the bug that had bitten them was passion--not just a job or a paycheck, but something they related to and could hold as their own. It was inspiring to see these young men so deeply immersed.

I want to do the things that I am passionate about; these are the things that we pour our hearts and souls into. And I'm lucky that it is my occupation, though it doesn't necessarily have to be -- your passion can be art, or music, or cooking, or wine, or helping people, or a million other things.

Have you encountered anyone lately who displayed passion or intensity, and did it inspire you?