Mas Masumoto

I do not pick idols quickly. In fact, I’m hard pressed to come up with a handful of people that I truly admire. Sure, I like people. But I guess admiration, the kind one feels daily and deeply, is just not in my nature.

This morning, a man called Mas Masumoto spoke at the IACP conference. Imagine the scene: there are 1500 people in a giant room. Breakfast is an institutionalized meal sponsored by Cuisinart, blah at best. Cell phones ring even though we were supposed to have turned them off an hour ago. The stage is hundreds of feet away. Mas has been invited to speak on the topic of inspiration using his most recent book, “Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on my Family Farm” as a guide. Sounds boring, right?

Mas begins with a reading from his book–we see the pain in his face when he talks about how his organic peaches don’t always sell because they’re fragile and sometimes ugly, and we listen as he so poetically links the memories growing up on his father’s farm to what inspires him today. We all whisper, wondering how this guy can simultaneously be a gifted farmer, writer, and orator. Any one would make him an outstanding person.

Somehow, Mas held a small writing seminar for 1500 people. We talked about food memory, and when food entered our lives, collectively creating a wall of food memories made up of index cards, all beginning with the phrase “I lost my food virginity when . . .” Funny, that the most useful and personal hour of the conference (to me) was the one held with 1500 other people.

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