Tim Ferriss: So following the principles in The 4-Hour Chef can improve one’s life even if they have no interest in food because it’s really a cookbook for learning disguised as a cookbook for food. So somewhat like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in that respect. And as it turns out the kitchen is the perfect place, the perfect dojo for human potential and exploring all of the avenues by which you can improve learning because you engage all the senses. And I was not only a non-cook, but an anti-cook for my whole life and until I watched my girlfriend show me how to cook by having me smell different things and tell her if they went together, it really opened my eyes to how much could be done in the kitchen that applied outside of the kitchen.
My readers have been asking me for a book on learning, accelerated learning, for five years now. And the problem is that writing about learning in the abstract is really boring to write and it’s also really boring to read. So I needed a vehicle for teaching all these things that I’ve experimented with since college, whether that’s smart drugs or language learning or what have you. And cooking, because I feared it for so long, ended up being the perfect starting point, because I could take people from ground zero being really insecure, really fearful to really feeling completely self-reliant in the kitchen and all of the bumps in the road, all the lessons learned throughout. And what I hope people take from it, at the end of the day, is believing wholeheartedly that they can become world class; i.e. top five percent in the world in one or two things per year, not one or two things per lifetime. Because I think that the 10,000-hour rule applies in certain places but not all places.
And what I’ve had a lot of fun doing is seeking out the anomalies. Not just where the groups condense but looking for the really unusual anomalies. Somebody who learns Icelandic in seven days well enough to go on TV and be interviewed. Someone who can memorize – has trained himself to memorize a deck of cards in 43 seconds no matter how you shuffle it. With no real natural gift. Someone who learns to become a world-class swimmer at age 38. These anomalies. And then looking for the recipe, right? The step-by-step process that produces results over and over and over again that those people use. Sort of identifying and distilling the recipes so other people can apply them. And I’ve just found that food is a great way to explore all of that because even if you never make a single recipe, if you learn to engage with food, your experience of every meal you have goes from black and white, good-bad, hot-cold, to HD in a million colors. And that is a really, really fun experience at the end.
I want people to take all of those things they’ve put on the shelf like I can’t swim. I couldn’t swim until a few years ago. I can’t ever play basketball because I was personally humiliated by a junior high coach way back in the day said I dribbled like a caveman. So I’m like, “I’m bad at basketball. I could never do it.” Take those things off the shelf. Or playing the guitar, whatever it is – those skills you’ve retired and to really tackle them and become extremely, extremely good at them.
The macro goal of the book is really to instigate a super trend, a macro trend. And, at least according to people like Mark Bittman, for whom I have a lot of respect, of The New York Times, formerly of The Minimalist Column, you really need about 20 million people to do that. And we’re at a point in this country where roughly 50 percent, I believe, of the independently owned farms are gonna be up for grabs. People are retiring and so whether that land goes to strip malls, goes to a huge AgriCorp like a Monsanto, or stays in a smaller, more sustainable farm is gonna be determined by how we vote three times a day by eating. So the goal is not to sell 20 million books; that'd be great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s to change how 20 million people think about food. Even if that means looking at their breakfast differently and, at least based on the last two books, I think that’s entirely achievable. So I’m very optimistic. But I think we need to move from a few enormous food suppliers to many smaller food suppliers, if we really want to have a sustainable healthy future.
Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd