Of My Own

Oh, hi. 

So I’m in a new city, did I forget to mention? I moved from Chicago to Cleveland around October 1st and haven’t regretted it for a second. I’ve had such a soft landing from friends and almost immediate job prospects that I can’t possibly complain. It was absolutely the right move. 

Thing is, two things actually, are these: One, I really miss my own kitchen. I just came across an ad for an apartment on craigslist for only $600 a month for a beautiful two bedroom upper unit with a huge kitchen (Cleveland). I am literally keeping myself from calling the person right this very second. I need more of a stockpile before I can make the move. The motivations are many, but the biggest part is the kitchen. I’ve been in my friends’ home for the better part of a month now (minus a week long cross-country road trip) and tonight was the very first time I’d cooked for myself. I’ve been living on salads from a fantastic grocery store called Heinen’s (the salad bar rivals Whole Foods and is half the price – again, Cleveland). I made a salmon fillet with a side of steamed green beans and some garlic/lemon/”butter”. It was delicious. But it wasn’t my kitchen. I haven’t had my own kitchen in almost five years, and before that, four years. I miss having my own kitchen. A lot.  My current situation renders the title of this blog even more pathetic sounding, doesn’t it?

Secondly, I was connected with a restaurant here in town which is on a more casual par with my former restaurant in Chicago (not the most recent one, but the one previous which is recognizable and accomplished). The feel was similar, familiar. Comforting, actually. I was woo’ed by them with a fantastic meal at the chef’s table and an invitation to come work there. At first I was thrilled, really excited about the idea; being part of another great restaurant with a very talented rising chef (who if you haven’t heard of yet, you absolutely will in the coming year). Then things began to feel… off. Just… off. Questions weren’t being answered, the left hand didn’t seem to know what the right hand was doing and I wasn’t feeling confident that it was the right move for me. Which was a strange and sad feeling. Was it the restaurant or was it me? Something had changed. I’d always wanted to be around talent, especially talented chefs. I’ve been drawn to chefs for years, even dated a few. They interested me the way vintage cars interest certain people. So what was happening there?

I received a full time job offer from my good friend, in a completely different line of work. A line of work revolving around a hobby which I do love but know nothing about in terms of the business that allows for it. But my friend has total confidence in me and has taken me under his wing to get me up and running as a functional member of the team. I drafted a gracious, appreciative email to the restaurant chefs and owners and with a certain amount of uncertainty, hit ‘send’. Several hours ago, I received a response from the Executive Chef (the one you’ll be hearing about) telling me he was sorry and asking to meet with me.

After a long talk with an aforementioned former chef I once dated, he insisted I was over-thinking it and should be happy to take the opportunity to get away from the restaurant industry while I could. As if it had been a punishment all this time. But it’s not, I do love it. I was having a hard time articulating to him why I feel almost guilty about turning the down position (whatever position it would have been).

Then it occurred to me, and I unknowingly alluded to this in my email, that in spite of all the wonderful learning and experiences I’ve gained from my time in the industry I think it’s time to be an observer. To appreciate the experiences with fresh eyes rather than the nitpicky ones that come from so many years inspecting service. To be able to relax and enjoy a particular dish or glass of wine without critique… how glorious! It’s time to be a civilian once again (if that’s even possible after so many years). It’s time to have nights and weekends off (glory be!) and not base my personal clock on a five-hour skew from the rest of the world. I’m pretty excited about that.

I imagine actually, that when I move out and because I won’t be working in restaurants anymore, that I will cook a lot more than I have the last year or so. This journal will be back up and running like it used to. I’ll be healthier. I’m already happier. Onward. Upward. Come with. 


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