Mise-en-what?

As you might imagine, organizing a Maker Faire is a lot of work.  We need to consider everything: Who is our target audience? What kinds of Makers do we want to recruit? Are we going to charge a ticket fee? Where is everybody going to park?

Image Credit: Dongjiadu Mise en Place by Gary Stevens, CC-BY 2.0 Licensed

Image Credit: Dongjiadu Mise en Place by Gary Stevens, CC-BY 2.0

Some of these questions are philosophical, but, at the end of day, most of them are a matter of logistics and organization—of mise-en-place.

Mise-en-place is a French phrase used primarily by chefs and others in the restaurant business.  It literally means “put in place,” though that hardly captures the full sense of what this means to professional chefs.  As Anthony Bourdain put it in Kitchen Confidential,

Mise-en-place is the religion of all good line cooks. [The] line cook’s ‘meez’ [is a] carefully arranged supplies of sea salt, rough-cracked pepper, softened butter, cooking oil, wine, backups, and so on. As a cook, your station, and its condition, its state of readiness, is an extension of your nervous system. If you let your mise-en-place run down, get dirty and disorganized, you’ll quickly find yourself spinning in place and calling for backup. … That’s what the inside of your head looks like now. Work clean!

In other words, organize your stuff and your mind and disposition will follow.  But how does this apply to Makers?

The Maker’s Toolkit

Well, if a chef’s toolkit is a set of ingredients carefully arranged in preparation for a night of cooking, then a Maker’s literal toolkit serves the same role in their work.  Carefully arrange everything in advance, and you will find what you need when you need it.  Leave it a disorganized heap, and you’ll be stymied and stressed!

Image Credit: Iceman in Action: Senior Airman Dion Edwards by Airman 1st Class Cassandra Whitman, Public Domain

Image Credit: Iceman in Action: Senior Airman Dion Edwards by Airman 1st Class Cassandra Whitman, Public Domain

That’s why mise-en-place is so important, for chefs and other Makers of all kinds.  By taking care of the details ahead of time, you are free to create and invent with having to worry.  You’ll have the cumin seed, or copper wire, or aquamarine paint, you need to complete your creation!

The Takeaway

So when you join us next month for the Tri-State Mini Maker Faire, take a look around and consider: Are there enough chairs here? Are there clear signs pointing me in the right direction? Do all the Makers have the power, wi-fi, and other essentials they need for their projects and stations?  The work we are putting in now means the answer to all those questions, and more, should be an unequivocal “yes”!

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