The Cook and the cookbook

Posted on December 19, 2018 by Jean-Marc Couffin

The Cook and the cookbook

I could have titled the article, the magician and his grimoire or the priest and his Bible, but what do you want, I’m an architect by training.  As Christmas approaches, I'm going to borrow this analogy on the off-chance it helps you with your gifts.

Let me give you my hard-earned advice: don’t assume what you cook from a recipe book will be quite the same as the professional chef that wrote it.

Here is my tale of a brave man, who loves his wife, and where it all went terribly wrong:

Last year, I went to a starred restaurant with my other half. We both love great food and enjoy preparing meals together. The restaurant was rather uninteresting from the architectural point of view (that’s her cross to bear), but the food was divine. I ordered a duck breast marinated in ginger, cooked sous-vide with mashed potatoes and divinely seasoned carrots that could almost make me a vegetarian. My wife was presented an equally delicious and creative rack of lamb.

Christmas was coming. I was looking for a present for the woman of my life. She had spoken to me several times about this meal, this lamb. As happy coincidence will have it, commercial schedule of this restaurant’s chef coincided with my holiday scheming and published a book featuring his best recipes, including that of rack of lamb. Obviously, the gift was ordered.

  • Christmas. Gift given.
  • January: first attempt making the recipe. Big mistake.
    This book is bad. Or we are terrible in the kitchen. We place the blame on the instructions; it's easier.
  • Mars: repeat.
  • June: The book is in the trash

Moral of the story?

  • The instructions: had ‘em.
  • The right ingredients: ditto (well, as good as we could find).
  • The tools: the same (but amateur).
  • The understanding of the recipe: it is written in quite basic English, so we are covered.

Hang on. That may be the problem. This recipe is written by an out-of-this-world chef. Following this recipe does not guarantee us the success of HIS dish. Particularly without the careful pairings and ability to adapt to real conditions (ingredients, tools, timing ...) to guarantee its success.

The recipe, yes, we had it. His skills? No.

This Christmas, the gift will be a chef at home and a rack of lamb!

You'll understand then, if this can be true for a rack of lamb, then imagine for an organizational deployment of BIM or project support. This doesn’t even account for fact that since publishing this recipe, this chef will probably have new dishes to propose to us, which are not even yet out. It's one thing to have the recipe, it's better to have the expert!

All our BIM managers and specialists are excellent cooks ... experts!


Jean-Marc Couffin
BIM Specialist