Why did the show feature these chefs? Who made the prime-time cut? Who didn't?
How do the producers decide who's out and who gets to share their chef origin story on air?
And—importantly—why does it matter to us?
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The best origin stories are all about... wait for it... the story. But more specifically: the truth the story reveals to us.
Nina's story is that she's an inventive chef from Maine... and a resourceful one. She talked about her love of wild food. And how using ingredients like dandelion greens and squirrel fat connects us to the outdoors and ourselves, even if we live in the middle of a city. Those dumplings were venison. (She just wrote a book about foraging.)
The cooks with the best stories told in the most compelling way got air time—whether they won an apron or not.
I'm going to separate this important point with dinkus bookends (a dinkus is that series of three asterisks—which is a fun thing for you to know).
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Every story should reveal three truths. I call this the 3 Reveals (because I'm not great at titles).
THE 3 REVEALS
- Reveal the writer to the reader: Help the reader understand the writer.
- Reveal the reader to the reader: Help the reader see themselves.
- Reveal an idea: Help deliver an a-ha moment.
Any story is a kind
of partnership between the writer and the reader.
When one of the truths isn't present—a story falls flat. Feels inauthentic. Is boring.
A balance between all 3 Reveals is key. Over-indexing on one can easily throw the whole experience out of whack, like a wobbly wheel on a shopping cart that keeps listing too much to the right. You fight it—and the whole thing becomes annoying.
A lack of balance in a Reveal
shows up in a story when...
- A writer makes it all about themselves.
- A writer spends too much time pandering, over-writing, self-consciously explaining. At worst, it's cloying. At best, it feels like a device.
- A story veers into lecture. (A lot of extremely popular self-help books over-index here... when a story well told would better illuminate an idea.)
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What's that look like in the real world?
I talk a lot about marketing storytelling in the new edition of Everybody Writes. Two new examples of origin stories well told in a marketing context:
1. The origin story of Exaltus Whiteboard Animation: President/Founder Carole Alalouf illustrates the story
of how an embarrassing moment launched her business.
- It's her story (reveal the writer).
- But her experience is one we've all also experienced (reveal the reader).
- And she helps us understand that great ideas will get you only so far (reveal that a-ha moment).
story of Velocity Partners. So technically not an origin story. Velocity doesn't show photos of co-founder Doug Kessler born with a copy of Strunk & White in his cottony little fists. (Mrs. Kessler: Plz send photos.)
But this brand new page from its site relaunch does such a tremendous job of the Reveal that I can't even decide which section or sentence to share...
"The good news: caring outperforms not-caring every time—with practical, hard-working campaigns that make steely-eyed CFOs weep (or at least nod sagely and whip out their purchase order pads)."
in this weird little corner of the world, the first thing you have to do is care—about your audience, about craft, and about the capacity of marketing to make the smartest person you know lean forward in an empty room and say: Yes. This."
It makes me weep that this kind of marketing exists
in the world.
And yes—I know I've quoted Velocity before. But so what? We're still learning from it.
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This works with your About Us page. Your origin story. Or on MasterChef, of course. CONGRATS NINA! Love you so much!