Soul Food: More Than Just a Cheesecake—Five Years In

More Than Just a Cheesecake—Five Years In

By Andrew Camp

Andrew Camp headshotSeptember 12, 2009, a blind-date that forever changed my life. I really cannot believe it has been five years.

Five years ago, I dared to dream, dared to risk, dared to experiment.

Five years ago, it started with a simple bowl of chocolate malt crunch ice cream that turned into a cheesecake that turned into a metaphor the Holy Spirit used to teach me a very important lesson.

Five years ago, I reflected on the importance of the process of creating that cheesecake and wrote this:

As I thought about the cheesecake, and the process of creating a cheesecake without a recipe—my first by the way—I began to wonder if me making it had a deeper meaning than me just exercising my knowledge of food. I could have played it safe and stuck with the old fashioned cheesecake, and it would have been enjoyed by all. But I chose to not do this. I chose to risk making something that had the possibility of tasting great, instead of just good. I had a pretty good hunch that the cheesecake would turn out really well, having made enough cheesecakes and trusting my prior experience with flavors. There was still, however, the risk that the cheesecake would fail, and taste like shit (pardon my French). But it was a risk worth taking because the rewards were much sweeter.

Maybe I need to take this attitude more often. Throw away the recipes and risk. Those recipes were and are needed, as they provide the framework and structure for me to create a new cheesecake. But there comes a point where I need to trust my training and my experience to risk and show people who I really am, not only as a cook but as a person. I need to risk and show people what I am truly made of instead of playing it safe. Yes, at times my shit will come out, and yes, at times I will fail, and yes, people might not like what they see or taste, but the rewards are greater as people will know me and not just the safe, contained Andrew, which is not bad; it’s just not the full, flavorful Andrew that has lied buried for way too long.

Five years in, I wish I could say I have it all figured out. I wish I could say that I have never looked back and reverted to recipes, to safety, to ease and comfort, over the messy. But I can’t. Life’s not that simple. I am still a human, after all.

Just as I continue to grow as a cook and step out into new horizons with new dishes and new flavors, God has a similar way of calling me out into new, unknown, sometimes rugged, terrain where I am once again faced with the question: risk or safety?

My natural tendency is to revert back to safety and nice, easy recipes, but I know how that turns out. While it might be tasty and somewhat enjoyable, it won’t be nearly as flavorful or exciting if I continue to lean into Jesus’ love and truly risk stepping out into the deep.

Five years ago, I ended with this and it seems more true than ever:

Neither is final; both are works in progress, but the process is exciting and fun, yet at the same time incredibly scary.

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