I’ll admit that I was nervous to turn something I’ve considered a personal hobby into a professional career. I’ve always been of the mind-set that if one turns a personal passion into work then the initial appeal would disappear and soon one might start resenting the very thing he/she loved. Up until this year, I prided myself on keeping work and pleasure compartmentalized. It may be too soon to tell if taking the culinary path will, eventually, fall into this category but I can say that the journey, this far, has already been eye opening.
If I had to breakdown the overview of my time I would say that company logistics verses culinary immersion is probably 60/40. The majority of my time is spent meeting with vendors, strategizing with employees, seeing local kitchens, book keeping, legal, marketing, PR etc. The 40% food-related activities are spent cooking, writing recipes, creating menus, learning new techniques and, overall, event planning. In an average 10 hour work day it ends up being 4 hours of cuisine-dedicated time a day.
I’m finding there is always something new to learn. Today for example, I spent my time immersed in canning and making a rhubarb compote to serve with a cheese plate for an upcoming event. There’s so much to understand about pectin, how jams vs compotes differ and sterilization. Then I transitioned into studying up on Spot Prawns as I’m spending a few days on Lummi Island and a boat is docking tonight with our name reserved on 6 lbs of this local delicacy. Expanding my knowledge of our Northwest specialities is what makes our food-educational market tours unique and interesting. At the end of my day, anything that directly or indirectly makes our Eat Seattle experiences better, is time well spent.
I’ve started to question how chefs in a commercial environment really find time to expand their own horizons unless they work in a kitchen that encourages this (which, I understand, many don’t). There is so much to know!
In any case, overall, I’m enjoying the fact that my personal interests are aligned with my professional aspirations. If I had to break out the pros and cons it would be as follows:
- I don’t need that downtime at the end of my day to transition into my personal life.
- I’m constantly learning about things that sincerely interest me. The more I learn, the better chef I become.
- I don’t feel guilty when I run off to a spinning class mid-day.
- Shopping for and cooking with the best quality ingredients available is part of my job.
- Working with the vendors that make the best quality ingredients is inspiring.
- Learning about new, local distilleries and wineries and experimenting with their beverages for private events doesn’t get old.
- On a deeper level, I feel this personal/ work combo is propelling me in a meaningful direction, though, I don’t exactly know what the future has in store. And being OK with the unknown ahead…
- My weekends are now consumed with work-related activities
- Unhealthy obsession. I become obsessed with projects and it is nearly impossible to sleep or eat until they are 100% complete.
- Awkward hugs. Some meetings are so much fun (and some involve wine) that I forget I’m still in a professional situation until I go in for a closing hug and realized “oops.. that wasn’t necessary”.
- Concentration. People don’t actually realize I’m working and are constantly trying to engage me in conversation when I’m actually very focused. Thus there are a lot of “but I told you that” conversations and my only defense is “I wasn’t listening when you said that”.
- Keeping up with social media and posting interesting content is an exhausting full time job but a necessary evil.
If any of you are playing around with the idea of taking an entirely different career path I would say that, so far, my experience has been wonderful. Despite all the work and the high risk, I highly encourage it! The only thing better than doing exactly what you love is being able to share it with others.