The first chapter of his book is all about making stock, or base, for your cooking.At the end of the first chapter the author summarizes his own thoughts, and quotes other authors, on what it means to do things with finesse.The following quotes are a bit difficult to follow, since it is the author quoting a person, who is in turn quoting another person:
"The Berkeley, California wine merchant, wine authority and author, Kermit Lynch, hoping to get a better handle on the word finesse as it applied to wine...wrote to his friend, proprietress of the vineyard Domaine Tempier...He quotes her: 'Finesse is the opposite of coarseness or crudeness.It is a light touch as opposed to heavy-handedness.It is spirituality, subtlety and intelligence, from which comes an aptitude for knowledge and deeper understanding.It is also a matter of sensibility, of perceptiveness combined with a great deal of delicacy in regard to emotions and feelings."
The author continues in his own words: "Finesse is an expression of excellence, and whether the finesse is in art, in craft, in business, or in medicine, its effects are in parallel...The surgeon who ensures that his or her stitches, in repairing a baby's heart, are spaced perfectly uniformly so that the stress on the tissues is uniform, is expressing a degree of finesse that has life or death implications. Finesse should not be considered an extra step, but rather something fundamental in our actions....The second point is that finesse results in knowledge for the person putting it to use.The exertions required for finesse are not expended but rather transformed; struggling hard to achieve finesse does not leave us spent and empty, it fills us....A surgeon for whom finesse is second nature understands the human body and healing and decay with more depth and clarity than the surgeon who has no sense of finesse."
Steve Z's comments:
These words struck a chord with me - from Ying's comments on why certain companies and ideas succeed (while others fail), to books like 'Good to Great', to my own experiences in engineering, home life, cooking and music.I saw the differences between doing a job, and struggling to do a job well - from the struggle comes learning for the struggler, and with practice this struggling becomes finesse.I know realistically that initial struggles do not directly result in finesse as an output - I have many burnt loaves of bread over-cooked pieces of chicken with my name on them to prove that point.In my experience, with struggle, practice and repetition comes finesse.Several key attributes are useful to keep this a consistent process:Desire to learn, persistence against obstacles, little concern of failure (other than using it as a learning tool), and a positive attitude.