Preparation is cooking. Cooking is preparation. It took me a long time to recognize that you do an incredible disservice to your food and eaters when you do not consider preparation as a part (and sometimes the biggest part) of cooking because it leaves too many things to chance. Sure, it seems like a good use of your time to mince some green peppers while you wait for your omelet to set, and sure, maybe you just need to get quicker at cutting peppers so you don’t have to buy another fridge because the last one melted into a puddle once your omelet burned and caught on fire. As a good rule of thumb, once you start your fire, the majority of your attention should be on the fire and not continuing your prep. Worry less about being able to cut the peppers just in time to use them and worry more about creating an environment where everything you need is already right at hand.
But there is a bigger reason how thinking the prep isn’t cooking keeps your abilities down: it disrespects the food, the ingredients. I never realized it at the time, but I used to consider ingredients reliant on the final meal to be worthwhile; that until the food was cooked it was sub-food, less than. When I stopped thinking of a meal as an amalgamation of lesser ingredients, and began to consider it as an equal collaboration between important ingredients that bring important flavors, textures, aromas, and colors to a dish, my eaters started becoming more elated when sitting at my table. By putting all of your focus into your prep, you show the utmost respect for your food by making sure no part of your cooking process is taken for granted.
Cook Well, Eat Well, Live Well