The room was filled with smells so intoxicating it almost provided some kind of natural high. It wasn't the bad type either, it was one that penetrated your smell and reached into your stomach, tugged on your taste buds and smothered you in ecstasy. The chopping and flipping and screams of frustration had subsided. The sound of breaking plates and the dropping of oven trays were no longer present. It was replaced with an eager air of anticipation. They all stood and waited for their names to be called.
Stinky looked around the room at all the would-be chefs and smiled. He knew he was faced with some tough competition. But what does it matter when you have really given it your best shot? He remembered the simpler times where the smell of sweet smelling pumpkin pie made him feel warm, cared for and loved. Sometimes Stinky was surprised at all the things he had learnt from such a simple upbringing. Lost in nostalgia, it wasn't until someone had nudged him that he realised he was being called forth for the ultimate judgement.
'Chubby! You're up. Bring your dish to the front' said the well-dressed chef.
Stinky momentarily looked around. He didn't see anyone there fitting this description so he was a little perplexed as to why he used such a word. Maybe it meant something different in his language. Stinky stepped forward and brought his simple dish to the table. The judges sat there expressionless. Their gaze was so passionate that he could feel their stare burn holes in his confidence. They placed their knife and fork and tore apart his dish - scrutinising every little aspect from its presentation to its smell.
They finally took a bite and chewed while looking back at Stinky. There was no emotion shown on their faces. They chewed. They looked and chewed some more. The main chef judging placed his fork down and sat there in silence. The few seconds he had to wait for the verdict felt as though time had been thrown out the window. He expected the worse. And it was at that moment where he would almost fall apart, that smiles graced the faces of all three judges.
'Wow. What a wonderful dish to begin this competition. It was almost perfect in every way. Tell me, what was it you felt played the biggest part in this dish?' asked the main chef.
'I grew up on a farm and the one thing I was always taught was that food was meant to be prepared and cooked with love. So I guess that's the main ingredient'
'Great! Ok you may step back now'
Stinky grabbed his dish and walked back to his station. As he passed his fellow chefs, they patted him on the shoulder and said well done. So that was how it went down for most of the others in the competition. Some received excellent reactions and others not so great. So after all the dishes were tasted, Stinky was asked to step forward with two others.
'Stinky, your dish was one that really got our palettes going. It really was amazing. Having said that, it wasn't the best dish of the day. We want to congratulate you on a job well done'
The winner was most deserving. Stinky wasn't upset that he had not won. In actual fact, he was over the moon for having received such a wonderful review. There is more to life than always aiming to come first. It's more about the effort you put in and your intention behind it, rather than being focused on besting everyone else. And to those that tell you that this is the mindset of a loser, just remember that winners and losers are equally loved by their family. This is the way it should be anyway.
Stinky walked out with his head held high. There was nothing that was going to change his above-the-clouds mood. He looked up into the sky and saw a flock of seagulls fly past. As he watched seagull droppings had fallen onto his face. But rather than be angry about it, he was grateful that it didn't fall into his mouth. If only more people would have this attitude toward life and its mishaps. So… where to next Stinky? Stay tuned.