Beyond your impressive academic credentials and extracurricular accomplishments, what else makes you unique and colorful? We know nobody fits neatly into 500 words or less, but you can provide us with some suggestion of the type of person you are. Anything goes! Inspire us, impress us, or just make us laugh. Think of this optional opportunity as show and tell by proxy and with an attitude. (650 words maximum)

On the farm, Grandpa squatted down in front of the fence, saying little and observing the cage-free chicken for a few minutes. He then picked the one he thought to be of the right portion of fat for a certain dish.

I cut the pork in half, first vertically, then horizontally. Changing my position, I chop each quarter lengthwise into 4 evenly sized chunks. After setting a five-minute countdown, I put a cover on the pot, watching the boiling water bobbing around the pork. Oil sips out from the meat’s surface.

Four green pieces of spring onions, fifty grams of minced chicken and half a saucer of Chinkiang vinegar were neatly placed into different sized plates. When my grandfather cooked, he did it in such a methodical way, like a scientist delicately controlling the variable in his lab experiment.

I meticulously slice the scallion, shallot, ginger into uniform sizes and thickness, and spray them over a big white plate. The plate looks like a palette. It’s critical to control the precision of amount and the order of adding.

Cooking is the art of craftsmanship. Conscientiousness plays a big role.

I remove the pot’s cover as soon as the stopwatch rings. Billows of steam! The scent of the special-made oil instantly permeates the whole kitchen. After a minute comes the time to decorate the pork: three spoons of finely chopped fresh ginger, five spoons of darkly fragrant chili oil, and 250ml rice wine, with a gentle touch of sugar and salt to save the natural flavor.

“It’s all about being fresh, local and natural.” Grandfather poured water into the trench till the dirt turned soft. The seed potatoes were placed into the trench in rows spaced 3 feet apart.

I pick up two potatoes from the backyard. These potatoes are thick-skinned, indicating that they are ideal choices for mashing.

“Take your patience, wait.” Grandpa would stay in the kitchen for an entire afternoon. The smell of braised pork, though, quickly emerged from the kitchen, amid the sounds of furious sizzling. The room filled up with the most marvelous aromas.

The scent is nostalgic.

“Is it the time, grandfather?”

“Tell your parents, time to have dinner.”

The table was soon served with my grandfather’s specialty. I helped carry five pairs of chopsticks out. This was the best time of the day. I started eating with braised pork source spreading around my mouth, and a strong sense of love coming in waves.

“I cooked a good meal today.” I want to tell this to my grandfather now in heaven.

“Remember the recipe?” “Yes, grandfather.” “And remember to cook with love.” I wrote down all the secrets of cooking at the hospital three months ago.

My grandfather was an artist who pained the white meat with strokes of red and brown seasonings. I learned from him how to appreciate food and the stories, passion and love that come with it. In the simplest possible way, I cook and eat, to preserve the natural flavor, to make ordinary extraordinary.

I also learned that good food can unite a community. Cooking and sharing food in a way as simplistic, naturalistic as possible convey our genuine care for each other’s health while ridding the unnecessary extras helps us stay focused on what’s the most important, that is, our feelings, bonding and community.

Managing our student café, I brought in ingredients directly from the local farms to ensures a sustainable source of healthy raw materials and provide the consumers with eco-friendly dining options. And I wanted to bring that human-nature harmony dimension into our community spirit.

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