In December last year Mrs Moneo sprang a surprise on me as 2018 was one of those significant age years for me. The surprise was to visit L’Enclume restaurant in Cartmel, Cumbria. This restaurant is owned and run by the esteemed chef Simon Rogan. We had visited there many years ago when the restaurant was just in its early days. Since then Simon Rogan has taken the restaurant to major heights and is certainly among the top five if not the top three restaurants in the country. However, this was not just a normal visit to the restaurant. Mrs Moneo had booked us into Aulis at L’Enclume. This is the development kitchen within the restaurant where up to a maximum of six diners get to share seats at the chef’s table in a kitchen with some of the highest technical facilities of any kitchen in the country. At this table we were given the chance to have a first look at selected dishes that will feature in future menus at the restaurant. These dishes were cooked for us personally by the chef. The reason I tell you all of this detail is not as an advert for the kitchen but by way of setting the scene for what follows.

There is no doubt that we tasted some of the finest foods and wines that we had had in recent times but it was not just the food that was so memorable. On the occasion of our visit we were lucky enough to be the only two diners that evening. This meant we had totally personal service from the brilliant chef and her colleague who was explaining and serving us the wine.

It soon became clear that both these people were not just experts and masters in their fields but they were supremely proud of that fact. Not proud to the point of arrogance, that can so often be seen, but proud to the point that their passion and delight in what they did shone through so clearly. As I sat there, and for some long time afterwards, I reflected on how important it is to take pride in what you do. As optometrists we are entrusted with the most precious of the senses that people possess. That in itself should give us a sense of pride when we stop and think that the people who visit us do so because they trust us with such a precious sense. However, I realised from talking to these two people that it is not just about our sense of pride in ourselves but the sheer joy in sharing that pride with those we work with and for.

As I watched the skills exhibited by the chef and I listened to her explanations of what she was doing and why she was doing it I realised that she was not just doing this because she could but that she really wanted to share the joy of what she was doing and the skills she was using. It was so much more than just producing a nice plate of food. I realised that this was about wanting others to share in what she was doing. To understand why things did what they did and how different things could come together to create a whole. Her passion was infectious and I was aware that, while the dishes created were, in themselves, works of genius, the sharing of the moment and the skills involved in that creation made the whole experience deeper and more meaningful.

The meal and the wines were an experience in themselves that will live in my memory for a long time. But what will live longer is the memory of the desire by the chef to share with us so much more than just the food. Her whole experience and why she was a chef. The joy of being able to create wonderful dishes and the joy of being able to share that with others will live with me and will be a centrepiece of the way I wish to practice in the coming year. When I see the joy in someone’s face when, for the first time I enable them to see clearly by correction their visual error it still gives me the same buzz of excitement that it did over 30 years ago. Having shared a similar sense of joy with that chef at Aulis at L’Enclume I have rediscovered the importance of wanting to share that joy with the patients I see.

I will approach 2019 with a refreshed view thanks not only to the culinary brilliance of the chef at L’Enclume but the desire she had to share that with myself and Mrs Moneo. The experience of the food and the one-to-one sharing of that food was amazing and I thank all the staff at L’Enclume for that, but I also thank specifically the chef within Aulis at L’Enclume the wider learning I took from that evening.

I hope in 2019 you will all share your delight of being an optometrist with your patients and I wish you all the very best for an inspiring 2019.