the hope effect

August 30th, 2011

Taking a job as a photographer and reporter at the Virginia Gazette in the late 1980’s was a rather strange decision given that I didn’t read newspapers because I couldn’t stand the feel of ink on my fingers.  The assistant editor at the time, a lovely woman named Hope, then in her seventies, while proofing one of my early articles, quirked an eyebrow at me and asked, “Katherine, have you ever read a newspaper?”  To which I responded, “Yuck, no, too inky!”

With the patience of a saint did Hope then explain that if one wants to do something well, it’s essential that a careful observation, analysis and comparison be done of those who successfully came before – to seek out and find the best representatives and to up the ante from there.  Nodding obediently, I asked, “Does this mean I have to read newspapers?”

The effect of her message took root in my young and unruly mind and germinated over the next month, whereupon I suddenly knew exactly what she meant and promptly bought a pair of felt gloves and began devouring as many newspapers as I could get my gloves on.

The Hope Effect has been applied to everything I’ve done since; from the most important (jobs and careers) to the most ordinary (flower arranging and napkin folding) and certainly has had its effect on cooking and recipe development.  Years spent as a diligent self-study student of such culinary greats as Escoffier, Ducasse, Adria, and Duglere have created a vast foundation from which I can hope to ‘up the ante’.

Since those first fumbling weeks at the Virginia Gazette, I have shared Hope with hundreds of people spanning six countries, and today, with belated thanks, do I dedicate this simple case in point, French baguettes, to that remarkable and generous editor, and the profound effect she gave my every minute from that early day forward.

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