The Meat of the Matter: Overcoming Fear

Since I am the first to arrive at my cooking class I ask the chefs if we’ll be tackling meat tonight. I've occasionally cooked chicken but not any other kind of meat. My prime motivation for taking this culinary course was overcoming my fear of meat.  

Touching it and cooking it. 

The chefs say no, we’re learning sauces tonight. But wait, one of them says, we will be cooking rib-eye steaks and some fish and shrimp to go with our sauces.

I’m confused. “Isn’t that meat?” I ask. 

They shrug. “We won’t really be cooking meat until week five,” they say.

I tell the chefs that I went home and I cried about my failure to use a knife after the first class. 

They laugh. 

The truth was I was so disheartened after my first cooking class that I didn’t want to go back. But I’m not a quitter. {And I won't lie, the fact that I’ve already paid for all the classes might have motivated me a little too.}  

My only assignment all evening is to chop an onion. But I can’t remember how to get started and say, “Peel it first right?”

“Well, of course!” the chef comes over to me. He painstakingly goes over the instructions again.

I jerkily cut into the middle of it and he stops me. “Glide the knife,” he reminds me. “You are not gliding like a smooth airplane approaching the airport. You are crash-landing into the onion.”

He finishes it off for me and I breathe a sigh of relief.

Until the chefs pull out a tray of the thickest rib-eye steaks I’d ever seen.

“Come on down, Valerie!” the chef calls to me. “You’re going to touch some meat tonight.”

Even though this was exactly what I wanted to do, I am feeling horribly panicked. And wishing I were anywhere but here in this kitchen standing beside a tray of raw meat.

He instructs me to first season the meat. I clump a handful of pepper on one of the steaks.

“Remember how to sprinkle the salt and pepper from up above?” he asks.

“Don’t worry,” my classmate Julie jumps to my rescue. “I’ll eat that one.”

I gratefully tell her she is my new best friend. 

I drop the steaks into the hot pan but I’m afraid of my hand getting splattered. As I drop them from somewhere around eyebrow-height, they sizzle and splash. The chef scolds me to keep them closer to the pan, and my feelings are a little singed too. 

“You won’t get burned if you'd drop them like I showed you,” he says.

I find myself accepting his critique instead of withering and withdrawing. Besides, I have four more steaks to put in the hot pan.

The chef makes a joke as he oversees my attempts to season the meat.

This course is teaching me much more than cooking. God has been drawing my attention to areas in my life to address lately. He’s nudging me, correcting me and offering me help.

To fight my insecure feelings of not knowing what I’m doing and thinking I don’t belong. 

To overcome the fear of feeling nervous and looking incompetent that keeps me from trying something new. 

To conquer my misguided impressions of what I imagine others are thinking about me when they may not even be true.

God is more interested in me taking a risk with him than worrying about what I think I lack to show me he has so much more for me than I could imagine. He wants me to trust him to grow in new places in my life so I’ll stretch my faith too. 

And God is showing me that my fellow cooking students who seemed so intimidating to me and already knew how to cook are not so unapproachable. 

I trade knives with my station neighbor Liz so she can try the ceramic knife that gave me so much trouble in the first class {which she didn't like either}.

I hand my camera to Martha to snap a photo of me cooking, and she nicely tells me she hopes I'm pleased with the photos.

I laugh as Jerry teases me about learning to cook.

I commiserate with Sarah who the chefs ask to cook steaks with me but she refuses since she only eats chicken. 

I discover that Dave just moved here from England and wants to learn some American dishes to cook.

My cooking cohorts are feeling more like friends by the minute. And it's a good thing too. 

Because the chefs inform us that we’ll be creating our own menu and cooking it entirely ourselves for our final class to earn our certificates.

Our jaws drop. We’re shocked. It wasn’t listed on the course description. I’m terrified at the thought.

Handle a knife? Check. Touch and cook meat? Check. Cook a full-course meal? Knees quivering. Palms sweating.

I guess it’s just one more fear for me to conquer.

The finished meal -- my meat made the plate!

I'm linking up with my friends at Faith Along the Way and Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Won't you join me there?


  1. "To conquer my misguided impressions of what I imagine others are thinking about me when they may not even be true." I love this thought. And its so true. While sometimes are intuitions are true, so many times they are walls we've created of our own making. Yikes! My palms are sweating too thinking about cooking a full course meal for chefs, but you've got this Valerie :) And you've still got a few more classes to lay back and enjoy the ride. I'm proud of you for trying something new!

    1. Summer,
      Love your words of encouragement! I agree - so many times I misinterpret my intuitions too!

  2. I LOVE the photo of you cooking with the chef behind you, he seems hilarious! Looks like you are making amazing meals already, I can't wait to see what you all come up with for your final class!

    1. Brittany,
      He does making the classes a lot more fun with his sense of humor!

  3. Well I know how you feel about bald men, so I am sure that helped too! ;)

  4. Hi Valerie,
    I so can relate to your thoughts of insecurity. I have visited and continue to visit there and wondering if I am doing enough. I am so glad to have found your blog through the Holley Gerth link up today. Bravo to you for sticking with it(and for the cooking class too)! The meal looks delicious:)

    1. Kathleen,
      Thank you for your encouragement -- I'll need it! :)

  5. I'm so glad the cooking class has taken a positive step forward. New challenges bring upon new accomplishments. :)

    1. Yes that's the scary part -- new cooking challenges! :)

  6. Ugh I always hate touching raw meat. I wish that got easier. That and chopping onions. Some people are naturally gifted and some of us have to work on it.
    I love that you are stepping out in faith. When we do that, God meets us. Way to go!

    1. Sarah,
      We're on the same page about the onions and meat! Love your encouragement!

  7. "God is more interested in me taking a risk with him than worrying about what I think I lack to show me he has so much more for me than I could imagine. He wants me to trust him to grow in new places in my life so I’ll stretch my faith too." Such words of wisdom! I love the lessons that God is teaching you through your cooking class and how it is growing you and stretching you! I too, would be panicked at cooking a full-course meal but am sure you will do great! So glad to have you at the Saturday Soiree Blog Party!


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