Layout Image

Break it down

Last week we watched The Next Master Chef on Food Network. It’s yet another reality show, if you don’t watch it. Their task was to cook for 400 hungry Marines. (I need to make the Marine solidarity noise now that I’m related to one. My baby sister just got married.)

The cameras caught just about everyone participating on that show talking some variation of “400 people!!! I’ve never cooked for 400 people!!!” And they proceeded to run around like headless chickens and ignore that critical part that they didn’t feel they knew how to tackle. Not a single one stopped and thought it through.

The team who made the best food? They lost, because they ran out. You can’t be feeding soldiers and run out of food. seriously.

I’ve never cooked for 400 people either. But I know how to break it down.

I’ve never cooked for 400 people. But I’ve cooked for 10. So I look at those giant pans they use for military cooking and I say ‘If I’m cooking au gratin potatos for 10 people, my pan is so big. How many of those pans fit into this one.” And then its a just matter of math.

That’s really how you have to handle any big scary project. Figure out what you do know, and use those pieces to help you figure out what you don’t know. The more complicated (or the more scary) something is, the smaller you may need to break down the pieces. Often you can figure out the parts that you don’t know either by handling the parts around it, or by breaking it down small enough to figure out who to ask for advice.

Ignoring the parts you don’t understand isn’t a sound strategy.


  1. Obviously they didn’t have any SCA cooks in the batch. Cooking for 400? Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but with the right equipment & helpers? No problem!

  2. Remember all those people who told us we were wasting our time with that silly game? All my best business skills I learned in the SCA.

    Its all about breaking down the project.