For those of you who know me (or have gotten to know me through my writing) knows that my true passions lie in the art of plant-based cookery. I’ve spent the majority of my professional life on the pass, working insane, sweaty hours for measly pay, and loving every second of it.
But I also have a burning desire to live. And unfortunately that’s hard to do within the confines of a commercial kitchen. As soon as you put on that white coat, you’ve sold your soul. You belong to the industry. Forget about having a life. And traveling? HAH! Good luck even getting a weekend off.
I needed to take a step back to prioritize.
I became a personal chef. A house-wife for hire. Before you ask, I didn’t work for anyone famous. Just a bunch of spoiled trust-fund business tycoons who don’t know the first thing about nutrition or what they even like to eat. (I’ve had the same client request a lemon cake, loved it, and then the next week told me that they DESPISED lemons.) This life wasn’t for me either. Clients are demanding, inconsiderate, and all around annoying. (Some of them, not all. But the pleasant ones come far and few between).
So what’s a girl to do?
I did what many disgruntled cooks have done. I walked off the pass, and threw in the towel. Knowing that one day I’ll return, crawling back to the insanity like a bad relationship. A moth to the flame. I know one day it’s going to kill me, but I just can’t stay away!
I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’ll never be one of the greats. No genre of cuisine will be associated with my name, and I probably won’t receive a Michelin star. I’ll never be invited to cook at the James Beard House, and I’ll never have my own show (not that I would ever want to). That ship has sailed. I’ve become less concerned with making a dent in the Culinary world, and instead focusing on what I truly want. Freedom. Financial freedom, and freedom from complacency.
When I tell people that I’d rather bartend than cook, I’m met with quizzical, judging expressions. How could I just walk away from my career and settle for mediocrity? Money, man. Money and time. Sometimes you need to realize that your passions can’t support you. They won’t care for you when you’re old, and it can’t save you in a bind. But money can.
What else would I rather be doing?
Travel. But again. Travel can’t support you. Just the opposite, it can run you dry. Of course you can work along the way. Find odd jobs to replenish your travel fund to keep you on your way, only stopping to top up every now and again. But there’s no long time security. At a point you won’t be able to perform those odd jobs. You haven’t made any plans to support yourself in the future. Sure, you’ll have your memories and experiences. But those won’t save you.
It was a harsh and depressing reality to come to grips with.
I can’t just free fall through life forever. And trust me, for a time, I believed that I could. I’m a lustful romantic who just wants to see the world, eat amazing food, share amazing food with amazing people, and write about my experiences along the way.
But misfortunes and obligations have grounded me.
Ever the optimist, I tried to find the silver lining. While I’m stuck here, I have no choice but to find a way to make my dreams a reality. I know that one day I’ll return to the kitchen. Hell, maybe I’ll even open a place of my own (queue dramatic ominous music). According to many seasoned cooks, I haven’t really put in the time. Maybe if I had, my career would have taken me to where I want to be. But I just have too many interests to be so confined to one thing. Have you ever heard of a Chef with a multitude of hobbies? Only if uppers are available to help fuel their sleepless endeavors.
I guess I’m really just blathering on and making excuses for walking away from my dream. There is some truth to that. But I also know that my decision to explore other avenues will eventually pay off. Life is too short to do the same thing every day. Life is too short to only learn one trade, live in one place, live one life.
One day I’ll make my way back to the pass, knives honed, uniform pristine, and we’ll fall back in line as if we’ve never left each other. But for now, there’s a world to see. And I’ve got work to do.