5 Life Skills That Cooking Has Taught Me

Before Greendot was started, I didn’t even know how to wash rice and vegetables. It wasn’t easy for me to venture into something that I had zero domain knowledge. However, I have never regretted picking up cooking and after honing my “culinary skills” for the past 2-3 years, I must admit that my “cooking” years was a defining period of my start up journey and they taught me several useful life skills.

Life Skill #1 – Washing rice and vegetables cultivated my patience

This was probably one of the hardest things for me at the start. I like to get things done quickly. However, when it comes to washing rice and vegetables, you cannot RUSH. Especially for broccoli, during certain seasons where there are more “worms” than usual, I have to check the broccoli one by one. That can really take up a lot of time. Thus, washing the rice and vegetables actually cultivated my patience and my sensitivity to details.

Life Skill #2 – Cutting vegetables helped me to reflect on myself

Cutting vegetables was also a very memorable period of my start up journey. I remembered how I used to spend my Saturdays in the central kitchen cutting vegetables. Those were the times my co-founders and I talk about new ideas, new strategies, new menu items, new promotions and everything under the sun. Looking back, we really enjoyed those times. There were also instances when I was alone and that taught me how to reflect on myself. I reflected on my past, my work, my relationships, and my life. Reflections make me clearer about myself and help me to learn from mistakes. It also gives me great ideas. I remember that I posted a reflection that I had while cutting vegetables in the kitchen on facebook and the post actually garnered more than 100 likes (a feat that I have never achieved before that).

Life Skill #3 – Blanching vegetables, frying tofu and cereal konnyaku trained me to remain calm in critical situations

Blanching and frying isn’t easy for an inexperienced cook like me because these are activities where time is the essence – you need to be fast yet at the same time not panic. Scalded hands and burnt marks were the tuition fees that I paid in the process of learning. I remembered my hand got scalded the first time I fried the cereal “prawn”. I had to drop the coated pieces one by one into the super hot oil. I burnt my hand because I kept telling myself  that the oil was going to spatter on me. The key to remaining calm is to squash negative self talk. The more we ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power we give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just – thoughts, not facts. And most importantly, to remain clam, we have do one thing: breathe. Breathing will help to train our brain to focus solely on the task at hand.


“Battle” scars from frying

Life Skill #4 – Stir-frying dishes taught me how to be more organized

The essence of cooking a good dish is to be well prepared before you actually start cooking. One of the common mistakes an inexperienced cook makes is that he has to stop while cooking to prepare an ingredient he or she missed out. This affects the taste of the food. As a matter of fact, cooking taught me how to be more organized. Being organized helps me become more productive in the work I do. Due to the crazy amount of things that I have to handle in my work, being organized definitely helps to reduce the pressure and enables me to work better.


A new staff learning how to cook the bento dishes

Life Skill #5 – Food presentation made me start settings standards for myself

The dish you cook shows what kind of person you are. Learning how to present my dish taught me about the importance of presenting myself. Nowadays, customers tend to “eat” with their eyes before they eat with their mouth. Thus, it is very important for a dish to look really good. Likewise, a good presentation of myself will project an image of credibility to others, before I have even said a word. The way I look also enhances the way I feel about myself, making me more confident.

IMG_2469Bento Dishes

I’m thankful that I picked up this essential life skill (cooking). Many of our parents probably can cook well but when it comes to my generation, cooking is starting to lose its importance. It is not because we don’t want to cook but food has become so readily available till it is easier to order or eat out than to cook at home. However, I feel that we should never lose this tradition of cooking and eating at home. A family that eats together stays together. So it is important that young people, as we grow up and start our own family, we should at least have an idea how to cook a basic meal for the family.


If you are interested to learn the basics of cooking, we are conducting free cooking lessons for you!

Complete the form below to register and we will notify you the next available class. Hope to see you there!

Greendot Cooking Lesson


Yong Hong

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