When I originally started Alilmixedup.com it was supposed to be about cooking but as I have developed Chefleen.com this is becoming more of a personal journal, the story behind the chef. So where have I been for half of the year considering my last post was November 2016?
Busy, but to understand the journey let’s rewind to 2012.
2012 was one of the most challenging years of my life. Every few months delivered a life- changing blow. My hours were chopped in half at a job I loved and devoted myself to because of another chef’s jealousy. I was beginning to question if I even wanted to be a chef because a short stint at a restaurant left me so poor and nearly tired of food. Then again in December I was let go again from a rehab house for no apparent reason.
Personally my life was a mess too. I had finally decided to end a 4-year situation-ship; you know a relationship with no commitment? Funny enough the weekend I got let go from the rehab house there was a gentleman caller who lived in New York visiting (me in) Los Angeles. So I obviously took him being there the day I got fired as a sign I was meant to move to New York and live happily ever after. The moving happened the happily ever after not so much. As my money dwindled and I was addressing envelopes for 30 cents piece I began to think of what my future was supposed to look like. What did I really want to do? I set a lofty goal of being a TV chef with no plan of how to get there. I was fearless, open minded, and yes maybe a bit naïve.
Apparently around this time despite changing jobs three times, living on my couch after renting my bed-room to a kid named Bailey who’d get high and skateboard around Culver City with his snakes, addressing envelopes for pennies, and dealing with the fcukery of men (boys) I radiated happiness. I was out on a psuedo date with a relatively new friend. I had been talking his ear off about my life, goals, and why I was moving to New York. I’ll never forget when I had finished my life story, he looked at me so softly and concerned and said, “You have nothing but you are so happy.”
Flash forward moving to New York and the past four years. From 2013 just trying to figure out how to survive to now when I was beginning to feel like I had everything. A steady job that allowed me to travel, a low cost apartment, amazing friends, I launched my YouTube channel I had been talking about for years, and a real friendboy. Yet I was feeling stagnant and heavy, there was a lightness about me that went missing. Thus the lack of posts, not one to force and I can’t write when I am uninspired.
The past few months I have felt like a one-woman band. Every limb and extension of my body always moving, carrying a beat, strumming a tune, and clapping some brass all while humming a harmonica marching forward at a slow but steady pace. Each instrument represents a different portion of my life. The drum, a constant need for money to survive in the background. The guitar is the beautiful melody of relationships that when not carefully strummed can sometimes strike a sour note or surprisingly show you a new tune. The brass a welcome jolt of adventure and excitement. Finally the harmonica, my heart, vibrating whatever sounds comes straight from my soul. Being a one- woman band I feel the struggle of a street performer being brave enough to do my thing no matter who is watching. As a true performer I’m not doing it for likes I’m doing it for my soul.
Carrying the weight of all the instruments has brought a lot of successes. I released Let’s CookIn, a You Tube series I have been talking about for over five years. I threw a launch party for the occasion and even found a free venue in NYC, a miracle in itself. I picked up some new private clients, which has helped alleviate the money stresses. Realizing it was time for a new challenge I applied to so many jobs, and heard a lot of no’s until finally a yes. I managed to make it to Aspen, Thailand, and even take the friend boy to St. Maarten on my own dime. But my heart was tired, too much juggling, too much appeasing others what did I want?
The world always knows exactly what you need. Last month I was awarded with the opportunity to be an America’s Test Kitchen Host on Holland America line. Basically it’s my life long dream fulfilled; I’ll be a TV chef! I’ll be demoing recipes to live studio audiences of 50-100 people and on some boats it’s even broadcasted into the rooms. It’s everything I could have asked for minus the fact it’s on a boat and I have to leave my life for five months. Five months in the grand scheme of life is a very short blip of time but I almost was becoming comfortable with being settled. Even though accepting this job is the right choice it was not an easy one.
It’s going to be intense and scary. I have so much to learn this is forcing me to really be a food expert. I’m a bit overwhelmed with all the last minute details of leaving my life not to mention the like 200 pages of scripts to learn! I’m of course super excited, traveling, meeting people, and doing what I love, win win win. But I’m also terrified and looking for that girl of 2012 my friend told, “You have nothing but are so happy.” Reminding myself to grow into the full potential of who I am to be I must be comfortable letting go.