Food Glorious Food

Food: What did you eat this year that stayed with you? Did you experiment with a new meal? Try a new restaurant? Reflect on your good (or less desirable) eats with detail and explain why it stayed with you!

Food. Oh my goodness, food. This year my world went back to revolving around it. My life is centered around the kitchen and it's an intense love/hate relationship.

The love is recipe development. The hours of brainstorming. The days where my brain just doesn't stop. Floods of flavor combinations that I have to write down because there are too many to keep track of. "Painting with flavor," my uncle calls it. I've always thought of it more as composing. But either way the idea is the same.

Pots out, ingredients cover the counter. Taste, adjust, taste again. Start a new batch because it's baking and some things cant be changed once you start the process. Decide on another flavor entirely, a different texture, put the flavors in a cake instead of gelato. I can do this for hours. I do do this for hours, days even, with occasional breaks for the regular production that needs to get done.

I am happiest then. That is what the kitchen is about for me- creating, sharing my creations. Hoping people love them as much as I put love into them.

It's never really been about wanting my own place or the rush of service or anything else. I just want to create and share and teach. I'd be content doing recipe development and writing cookbooks and never stepping foot in a professional kitchen with a store front again.

But being a pastry chef is my version of being a starving artist, and like most starving artists, I have to find some way to pay my rent at the end of the month.

So there's the hate side. The side where I'm supposed to be thankful I only work 9.5-10.5 hours a day because that's not that much for a sous chef in this city. The side where I don't always just get to make what I want, where I have to work service at the restaurant, where I spend a couple of hours each day making breadsticks. There's the side where even though I have a fancy title and get to manage people and am at a relatively good place in my career, I don't get vacation time or sick days or medical benefits and that's pretty much the norm in the industry. The side where the hours make it impossible for the kitchen not to be my whole life. Where finding new friends and having a social life in a new city has been made even more difficult because of my all consuming career. The side where I give people a blank stare when they ask me what i do when i'm not at work before answering "sleep" or "laundry".

I am, finally, starting to learn how to leave work at work at least.

I have a feeling this will be my last job working in a restaurant or bakery kitchen. I'm not saying I'm planning on leaving soon but when I do I either want to move into a test or teaching kitchen or go back to working with troubled kids.