If you haven’t guessed by my lack of positing I am going through yet another quarter life crisis at the lovey age of 27. So taking a break from food (sort of) please allow me to think through some things out about my life as a chef. According to my uncle this should be my prime and in a lot of ways it is. I am self-sufficient, have a roof over my head with a bed that is my own, I make money doing what I love (cooking), an amazing social network of hardworking and fun loving people, and I need for nothing. Literally some days while walking to work I am thinking all I have to do is just cook these people chicken. It’s really an awesome thought. I am the closest thing to a free loving hippy who lives in the city but I actually have money to do what I want. Granted I still live with three people and my wants do not include flying on private jets or buying expensive handbags. Yet people still find my life to be inspirational. My biggest accomplishment to date is gaining the respect and admiration of others through my work ethic and determination. It is crazy but amazing to think of my wild free flowing life as motivating to others. At the same time there is gravity to this achievement because I feel a weight of being an illumination to others. I always want more and I don’t want to let anyone down.
For those interested in the culinary profession know it is an extremely draining and difficult position. Despite what I mentioned earlier about all I have to do is cook chicken there is so much more involved in it and it took me a long time to get here. First off culinary school took a great leap of faith and all my pennies. I took it very seriously and was annoyed with all the kids and old people in there with money to do it as a hobby. After you’ve spent 24,000 dollars for a diploma you’re not even guaranteed a job. So you set out into the world and realize working in a restaurant kitchen making 8.00 and hour is just not ok. There is something to be said and great amount of respect to be given to a restaurant chef. You work long hours, holidays, doing the same tasks over and over at a very high speed of efficiency. You leave smelly, gross, and in my case defeated. I began to hate food, something I had loved my whole life. I felt like working in a restaurant food loses the creative soul satisfying aspect about it. The magic behind the creator and audience is lost.
Fortunately for me working in private homes is a little less stressful, better hours, and I don’t leave smelling like restaurant floor. A stroke of luck gave me my first opportunity with one of Hollywood’s most famous families but my drive has got me to where I am now. Working privately is not all roses; often times I end up doing way more than my job description and it’s hard to find a balance between the personal relationship you must build with clients but remembering I am a business. It’s also creatively draining because I want to give my clients new and exciting things within their (sometimes extensive) limitations. Cooking for several consecutive days takes a lot of me mentally and physically and leaves me just wanting someone to just feed me. Cooking privately is definitely feels a lot less like work then restaurant life but part of me wonders how sustainable it really is. Right now it’s great to up and leave with any family wherever they go but one day if I have a family of my own will I be so eager. It’s incredible lonely to be away from my friends and family while they are enjoying their weekends. My life is essentially not my own, especially if I ever work full time for someone again.
So despite all I have accomplished it is time for me to stop resting on my laurels and figure out what’s next. Funny thing is after working for five years professionally I know still have so much to learn and barely feel like a real chef. I love cooking too much to let it become money driven business or to let the work overload stress me out . All my friends have wonderful suggestions; start a restaurant, meal delivery service, write a cook book, start a YouTube series the list goes on and on but I don’t really ever want to have to focus on other things besides creating and making people happy. The thing is if I really wanted those things I would have them or at least be working at them in this moment. I’m good at this I don’t want to taint it by making it a business but I do need to survive and thrive. The good news is I am growing and my food presentation and flavor has most definitely improved.
I’m a strong believer in things happening as they should. So as much as I feel pressure of expectation and potential crashing down on me at the moment I know the tide will pull me back right where I need to be.
Thanks for reading and believing. Follow my journey @chefleen on insta.