I fell asleep last night reading Michael Ruhlman's "The Making of a Chef," and this morning I particularly remember the part where Chef Pardus tells Ruhlman about all the things he gave up to be a Chef: "I haven't had Thanksgiving since I was a kid. [...] Mother's Day? I didn't spend it with my mother. Busiest day of the year. I've lost a lot for this work. And I'm not happy about it."
"Not happy about it" is how I feel this morning. My mother is secretly thrilled each time I grumble because she hopes that I will change my mind and return to my cushy, high paying, 9-5 office job. The job that paid me enough to live comfortably and even send her some cash from time to time. My folks live in Romania, on my father's income, and do not have it easy. They were hoping that by me coming to the land of opportunity they would live better themselves so she tries to make me feel guilty each chance she gets for not thinking of them when I made this career change. What she doesn't seem to understand is that cooking is not a choice for me, it's something I have to do. I've tried other jobs and in retrospect, they were crushing my soul. I want to be around food, I want the work that I do to be about food, I am happiest when cooking. Even when on vacation, we usually rent a cottage instead of staying in hotels, so I can have a place to cook. I hope to one day make dishes a little less pedestrian even though right now I am at the building blocks, way down to the basics.
While I will be sweating in my white jacket, apron, black pants and steel-toe boots, pumping out bistro food to those who have chosen to stay back instead of going to their cottages, Jen will be sitting on the dock, drink and book in hand, or swimming, or ...
If you're having trouble picturing it, here's what I'll be missing this holiday weekend: