Gomez’s Gastronomical Golden Rule

One of the very best parts of being a private tutor is that you tutor for people who have private chefs. As a result, I have eaten A LOT of high-end deliciousness that I haven’t had to pay for. However, of all the private chefs I’ve ever had cook for me…for free, none of them has given me as many mouthgasms as Nicole Gomez. That’s Nicole in the middle.

Nicole has done her 10,000 hours. Actually, she’s done way more than that. Having done that in tutoring (and read all the literature on practice), I know that a lot of what emerges from all that practice is a few simple set of principles that you apply again and again to make sense of situations. As part of the Mixed Mental Arts project, we’re going to be extracting those rules from the heads of experts like Nicole and sharing them with the world for FREE! Yeaaaaaah!

So, I sat with Nicole and got her to talk out what goes on in her head as she decides what to do and what not to do when cooking. However, the core rule Nicole cooks with is what we’re going to call Gomez’s Golden Gastronomical Rule:

Be the Kind of F’ASSS who respects the grandmas.


When Nicole thinks about a dish, she knows she needs a Fat, an Acid, a Sweet, a Salt and a Spice AND she knows she needs to stay within the kind of spices used in any regional cuisine.

Fat: Butter, olive oil, coconut oil etc.

Acid: Citrus, vinegar etc.

Sweet: Honey, sugar, molasses

Salt: Salt

Spice: Lots of these available

And then when you put these together, you stay within the flavor profile of any regional cuisine. This is how Nicole does something that’s vital to being a private chef: improvisational cooking.

In essence, that’s the kind of cooking we all need to learn most. Recipe books suck. They require you to have a very specific set of ingredients. It’s also not how moms and grandmas cook. (Just ask Brian Otoya who is that other guy in the picture. His mom cooks AMAZING Peruvian food but she doesn’t use measuring cups. She uses her senses. She smells. She tastes. She looks for visual cues.) And that’s exactly how Nicole cooks. She cooks like a grandma. When people who are paying (like her clients) or mooching (like me) come in hungry, she has to figure out how to make things on the fly with what’s available. And so, she builds dishes around the available ingredient. The first night we started to breakdown Gomez’s Golden Gastronomical Rule Nicole had Andouille sausage. What is Andouille sausage?!?

Well, it’s a Cajun sausage! Guess we’d better respect your Cajun grandma. Hmmmm. Andouille sausage has fat and spice and salt. Hmmmm. We’ll need a sweet and an acid. What would a Cajun grandma use for those? And what do we want? An omelette? A salad? Or some sort of crockpot deliciousness? And that’s how Nicole uses Gomez’s Golden Gastronomical Rule to BUILD a dish.

You’re not going to get it all from reading this one #knowledgebomb. You’ll need to see Nicole break it down many, many times. But Gomez’s Golden Gastronomical Rule is a powerful mental app that took Nicole tens of thousands of hours to shape. By starting there, you’re going to massively cut down how long it takes you to think the way she thinks.

To see the kind of deliciousness, Nicole makes check her out on Instagram at @chefnicolegomez. As Bryan Callen would say “Hope you’re ready to learn EVERYTHING!”

Right after being born in Saudi Arabia, I was taken to the Callen house. Since then, Bryan and I have travelled the world with our Citibank fathers and somehow ended up in LA together. There we'd run into each other at family gatherings and do something that no one else in LA seemed to be doing: we talked about books. Since Bryan was kind of a big deal, Hunter and Bryan hatched a scheme to use his podcast to get on their favorite authors and professors. Out of that evolved Mixed Mental Arts and this tribe. For me, the marriage of entertainment and education is a return to how things used to be before our culture split story into two separate things. It's exciting to be able to build on the work Katie O'Brien and I did for The Straight-A Conspiracy and expand it out to every area of life. While I play a series of roles in the Mixed Mental Arts community (including Shitty Dutch Uncle and Bryan's #1 fan) my favorite role is as Toto who pulls back the curtain and let's the world see that there are no wizards...only men and women who try and puff themselves up to seem important.

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