College was the first time that I did a job. By a job, I mean something I did in lieu for money. Somebody paid me to be present. Some jobs were just manual labor like: running around soccer balls for the women’s soccer team, to others that taught me client servicing - like being an interviewer for the admissions office. In my first year I had five jobs, which ambitiously tapered down to three by senior year — keeping the ones that seemed more resume-friendly at the time. Side note: no job is ever more resume-friendly. All of them can be repurposed and sold — trust a person who’s working in marketing with a degree in biology. 🙃
What I found fascinating about working in college was being introduced to working with people — both customers and colleagues; organization (Google calendar is my lifeline); and most importantly, finding solace in repetition. Now, the last point is something that I didn’t understand until quite recently. For the longest time, I found that once I learnt something well enough, all I wanted to do was move onto something else. Learnt how to edit photographs on one app? Moved onto the next, more advanced one without ever going back. Learnt how to make gnocchi? Bought pre-made gnocchi thereafter. It was almost like I was attracted to the novelty of learning than actually mastering something. This, highly Liberal Arts approach to learning gave me a lot of breadth but actually very little depth in any field I touched. Now this doesn’t mean I haven’t had deep, repetitive work. It just means that the most fun that I’ve had, has been with work that varied a lot.
It was only at my current job that I realized the value of repetition. Doing something again and again not only helps you understand how you can do something better but also find opportunities to innovate. Taking a skill you have honed and reapplying it to something completely different is an aspect that only repetition can achieve. My Dad said something very interesting last week that has become one of these phrases that I say time and again, just to test out its validity. He said: “Repetition is what people mean by experience.” Anyone can learn something but doing it a thousand times over and again is the kind of experience that makes you knowledgeable. This kind of woke me up — a repetition sensor kind of got activated and I started thinking of times that people might have said the same thing to me or times where I found myself subconsciously innovating through repetition.
The one person that came straight to my mind was a club advisor from college called Natalie, who used to tell us that if we can write well with one hand, then why waste time teaching the other hand to write? Why not focus on honing a skill than learning something new from scratch (I def butchered the delivery but people who know her, know she says this all the time). While she doesn’t specifically say repetition, it kind of goes back to the same thing. If you do one thing again and again, you will get better at it — maybe to a point where you could even call yourself an expert! (Ps. Natalie runs her own hand lettering company which is amazing and even though my tiny blog isn’t gonna help her overall marketing, you should go check it out!).
Where I found myself subconsciously innovating, was with food. I remember looking at a recipe by Donal Skehan with sesame oil two years ago and impulsively buying a huge bottle of it. Now sesame oil isn’t really a cooking oil. Its got such a strong smell and taste that all you can really do with is add a splash for flavor. But hungry, ambitious Archit bought the biggest bottle he could find. Now that I had the bottle, I began experimenting and cooking a lot more. I started using variations of it. Used the oil in marinades which led to the chai spice stir fry, used it in stews as which led to the Thai chicken stew. Finally I started pairing it with actual toasted sesame seeds that give a meal this symphony of cooked and raw sesame flavors. A sesame shrimp bowl is on its way but for now, feast on this sticky hoisin chicken burger that combines all the flavors I have used repeatedly — sesame seeds & oil, chai spice, and sriracha. I reduce all these flavors with brown sugar, added shredded chicken and top it off with a fresh coleslaw pickled in red wine vinegar and a whole fried egg!
500 grams of Chicken thighs, boneless
2 brioche burger buns, toasted
A good handful of coriander leaves
3 spring onions, finely sliced
½ cucumber, finely sliced
½ carrot, julienne peeled
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 large eggs, fried
For the sauce:
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp Sriracha
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp chai spice powder
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
Add a good pinch of salt on both sides of the raw chicken. Leave for 5 mins and then pat dry.
In a skillet on medium heat, add 1 tbsp of veggie oil and cook the chicken until the skin has browned on both sides.
Place the ingredients for the sauce in a large sauce pan and bring to a steady simmer a medium high heat.
Slice up the chicken into shreds and add to the sauce pan and mix through until completely coated.
Toss together the cucumber, carrot with some red wine vinegar
Build your burger by adding the salad mixture to each bun base, half the duck mixture to each one and finishing with a fried egg and a garnish of coriander.