Surprising Life Lessons

Anyone who knows me knows that once I’m into something…I’m really into it. My latest obsession is Master Chef Italia. Yes, the cooking competition. It might sound silly (because it is) but the cooking show is not only incredibly entertaining, it has also made me think about some things besides what speck is and how badly I want “made from scratch” gnocchi.

Here’s what I have learned from the show:

  • Finish one thing before you start another

It may be the cliché of clichés but that doesn’t make it any less true. If you’re really committed to finish something that’s well done, you need to divide it into different tasks and get them done one by one. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 5-dish menu, preparing for an exam, becoming more fit, embarking on a new business or your usual work load. Otherwise, your ideas will start to mix and fade and stress will surely follow.

The practical alternative is to just start with something. Finish that task, start the next thing and so on. Before you know it, what was only an idea will be materialized…or at least it will be on its way. Clear ideas create clear actions. Mise en place (everything in its place) for life!

  • Take something off the plate instead of adding more to it

In order for a dish to look elegant and aesthetically pleasing, Chef Bruno Barbieri always advises Master Chef contestants to take something off the plate, not to put more stuff onto it. There’s really no need for parsley to be on the plate’s edge or so much sauce covering a beautifully cooked fish. Less is more, right?

I really like this concept because it can also be applied to many aspects of life. It’s not about adding more and more stuff, it’s about being intentional about our experiences and our time. A walk in the park with someone you love can feel like a super expensive adventure without having to visit the trendiest of the trendiest place. Having a small closet filled with clothes that you really like can feel so much better that buying a new shirt each week. Carving out some time to peacefully watch your favorite TV show can feel so comforting. Taking something off of you plate will make what is left feel special.

  • Pursuit, always

On the show’s intro, chef and judge Carlo Cracco says “Pursuit is the word that defines me.” He’s so intense and serious as he says it that I found it funny. But really, it’s a great quote and some kind of mini-manifesto. It’s important to be open to new things.

Our opinions and goals, like our palates, change with time. It’s only natural to be curious about ourselves and the pursuits we crave.

I’m always mesmerized by how professional chefs seem to handle food and their instruments. The Master Chef’s judges let the respect they have for what they do shine through and definitely seem to pursue what intrigues them.

As you can see, I’m hooked. Master Chef Italia has entertained me and it may entertain you, too. At the very least I hope these lessons give you some food for thought.

Carolina Díaz is a psychologist who loves to write and believes that small acts of kindness can change the world. She writes about psychology and mental wellness at

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