Speak Up

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

That Must Be So Nice!

I'm sorry that I have not written recently. (However sad, but true I have to say that my therapist would be upset with me for opening this up with an apology, but there it is and there it stays)Back to the matter at hand.

Have you other chefswives noticed that when you tell people what your husband does their reaction is surprising and silly? I have. The moment that I tell people my husband is a chef I brace myself for the barrage of comment that follow.

For Example:
Them: "What does your husband do?"

Me: "He's a chef"

Them: "...But you're so skinny!....Oh really?....That must be so nice! ....Does he cook for a lot?....Wow!....I wish I could get my husband to cook....Does he criticize your food?....And he works in NY so he must work at a *fancy* restaurant...etc. "

And my reaction is always the same: a half-hearted smile and sigh that comes out sounding like, " Yes, I suppose." But what is the media telling to the general public about chefs? People have this image of a handsome man in sharp whites and a 12 inch toque who rubs elbows with rich *fancy* people in a white tablecloth clad *fancy* restaurant who comes home to cook me a five course menu for dinner of quail and egg caviar. That my friends, is an anti-reality. Non existent. It never will.

Not only do others suggest such ridiculous falsities but its also the lack of excitement for your own career that stings. Second grade teachers are interesting people too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Beware the Vanity that Blows in your Commode

You remember when you used the hairdryer for the first time: your dad came into the bathroom and told you NEVER to have that thing near the tub as you thought to yourself, "Who would even do that?" Well, I must have forgotten that speech today.

No I didn't try to dry my hair while soaking in the tub. I didn't even drop it in the tub. Worse. My hairdryer fell into the toilet. The toilet! No one ever warned me about the commode!
I set my dryer on the counter (which is really just a sink with some extra space) and it crashed down onto the toilet seat and as it seemed like minutes went by in just a short mini-second my hairdryer was in the toilet. It was still running as my mouth dropped open. I froze. My greatest fear in life is electrical shock. Maybe caused by too many accidental run ins with the electrical fence around the corn on Grandpa's farm. Who knows.
Either way, I found myself back to reality and like the brilliant woman that I am I turned off the lights. I have no idea why I did that, but I think at the time I just wanted all the electricity off. Well, of course the dryer was still running! I could hear the water flowing through it. I turned to the socked with the plug. No sparks. That was good. I think. But there was no way I was going to touch that thing. No freaking way. So I grabbed my round brush and beat that plug until it dropped from the socket-into the sink. Why did I do that? But I had to.
So there I was starring at a hairdryer in my toilet. What now? Can I touch it? Will I die? I called the doorman, what a good guy, told me to take it out, that I was safe. And I did. And where was the chef? Working of course.
The moral of the story (you pick):
A) Vanity can be [near] deadly.
B) Turn off the dryer before you set it down, anywhere.
C) Get a larger bathroom with plenty of counter space.
PS sorry for the lack of spaces on this post. whats up with that?

Ramsay, Rock, and Ridiculous [Claims by FOX]

On a preview for FOX's new fall culinary series they describe Gordon Ramsay as "...the most successful restaurateur on the planet" Now I like GR, I'm definitely a Ramsay supporter. In fact he's a great model of a tv chef- a rare breed in fact who is both A) a household name in food for his name calling and in your face sarcasm and B) his success of actual fine dining restaurants. He has a plethora of restaurants in the UK as well as all over the world including Tokyo, Dubai, and right here in NY with his recent Gordon Ramsay at The London.
But I didn't know his glory and success was a hard fact that FOX could proclaim. Come on now, it is FOX though. But really if FOX can say that, than why can't I proclaim other non facts that are truth to me?? Well, here goes: " I am the perfect specimen of a chefwife" Haha. I had to.
I am looking forward to his US version of Kitchen Nightmares. I guess the network got one thing right: Americans love their heartwarming stories and it seems this show will be filled with them. Many hugs and kisses and thank-yous for Ramsay, I'm sure I'll be crying by the second episode.

In other GR news, the conclusion of Hell's Kitchen was Monday night and I am happy to say that Rock is your season 3 winner. I have been rooting the strong and no nonsense executive chef since the beginning. I expect he'll be adding much more to his repertoire than the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Las Vegas. Gordon Ramsay Impressive website. Very thorough. Great bio.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

After I Do

Some women coax, others just have to bat their eyes, some would even get pregnant-but whatever it takes women get what they want-in this case a man. A husband. A lifelong partner and lover. But once you've got him once you are happily wed and treading into marital bliss-then the trouble arises like a rip tide.

My whole life (at least the 8 years of dating my chef) I thought our relationship would get easier, almost simplistic when we jumped in and said "I do" (Actually we said "I will", but its the same...I hope) However once our marriage completely saturated us I realized that being married is harder than it seems. Everything is a big deal that cannot be solved with crying or yelling or sex. Not that those things really worked before but now they especially didn't work.

Without bearing the a sea of details regarding my marriage and thus my life I will only say that marrying a chef goes beyond long hours and dinner for one. Being married to a chef means being married to his restaurant. It means the possibility of being asked to give up what you want. It means having to wait and wait and wait because as we all know, "It will get better". It means your husband loves his job just as much as he loves you.

But I don't mind. How can I? The passion that drives them to do the work they do is the same passion that drives them throughout every aspect of their lives. That is something that I can appreciate. I embrace the marriage that makes us different from everyone else. Cherish the time we have together as short as it is. Continue to make memories, smile, and take everything in stride.
And blog about it-that helps too :-)


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tale of a Chefwife

I have been lucky enough to meet another chefwife who was gracious enough to lend us her story. Naomi and her husband Boo have a restaurant in Hamilton, Ontario as well as two beautiful children and a beautiful story to tell as well.
Bringing our stories together makes our own hardships easier to defeat.

How did you and your husband meet?
-My husband, Boo, and I met in 1997. I started working at a restaurant called Montfort’s as a waitress. It was this Lebanese restaurant that doubled as an after the bar eating spot. We would serve lunch and dinner, and then stay open until 4 in the morning. Crazy. Boo used to come in for a beer every now and then. Especially on Sundays and Mondays. We had a big screen tv and he would sit and watch football games. The Miami Dolphins (something about Dan Marino, I don’t know, he’s 45). On New Year’s Eve of 1998 I said, and I quote, “Why is such a nice guy like you still single?” I didn’t get it about the life of a chef, nor did I know how much the guy loved football!!

Did you have any apprehensions about dating a chef?
- I had no apprehension about dating a chef. I thought it was exciting. When you are young, and in the same business, you don’t think about the implications. Plus, he was such a nice guy (when he wasn’t on the line).

At what point did you realize that dating a chef is not like anything else?
- I realized that chefs are a completely different species when I went to his basement apartment and discovered no furniture and no food in the fridge. Go figure.. the guy was never home. Then when we started working together, about 8 months later, I saw the dark side. lol

What caused you to leave the restaurant business?
-At first we had the same schedules, both working at the restaurant. Then, I got tired of it. You are always at the mercy of the manager, in terms of scheduling and sections. Then, you have the customers to deal with. It just started to drain the life out of me. So, I decided to go to teacher’s college. At first it was fine, I went out with my friends, and did my own thing. Then we spent Sundays and Mondays together. I never really minded going to family functions, or other outings solo. Now, with the kids, of course, it is harder.

When did you decide to have children?-We knew we wanted kids as soon as we got married. We got married in August of 2003. I was pregnant the following January, and Mateus was born in September of 2004, 3 ½ weeks early. Kieran was an accident (we knew we wanted a second, just not so soon!), and was born in November of 2006, 3 weeks early. They are so incredible (as all parents say), and we are so lucky to have them in our lives.

You have mentioned that being married to a chef can be a lot like being a single mother, can you elaborate?
-Being the wife of a chef, with kids, is like being a single parent. Five days a week I do it all. Accept about an hour in the morning, when I sometimes get some help. Make breakfast, wash clothes, clean house, make lunches, pick kids up, go to work myself, make snacks, dinner, bathe kids, put kids to sleep, wake up with kids at night.. you get it, I’m sure. Then, on his days off, he helps, but he does other things, like wrestle, and play - you know, dad things. I can’t complain too much, he is a wonderful father. The boys adore him.
When did you two decide to open your own restaurant?
-Boo’s last job, opening a fancy new steak house, was to be his last. He said it when he took the job. The next step would be to open his own restaurant. You get to a point where you just can’t work for someone else anymore. He is the type of guy who puts his blood, sweat, and tears into a restaurant. You can only do that for somebody else’s restaurant so many times. He lost his job in September of last year (he didn’t drink enough with the owner, and the gm did.. general manager got his way) Food and restaurant are suffering without him there, owner regrets listening to gm, gm now fired. Lucky for us, many of his old clientele are now coming to our restaurant!!The restaurant couldn’t have happened without remortgaging our house, and my parents (who are 50/50 partners with us). We believe in the restaurant 100%. It was well worth the risk.

How has it worked out being married to and working with a chef?
-I’m not sure that working with the husband is a great idea. We tend to fight a lot about work related issues. He takes his stress out on me. I criticize, want to change things, you know, meddle in his business. This last week I was losing it. I decided I shouldn’t work there more than a shift or two a week to preserve my sanity and our marriage. We went away for a few days, and things are much, much better!

How has the opening of your restaurant been going?
-The restaurant has been open since June 3rd. Things are going very well (knock on wood). Sometimes it seems too good to be true. You hear horror stories of restaurants with one table, all day. We have been fully booked a number of times, and often have to turn tables away. We have had a write up in the paper, and two good reviews by Hamilton’s two biggest newspapers. I can say, though, that Boo has worked hard in various Hamilton restaurants for over 20 years, many of them popular spots. He deserves this. It took many years of working his a@#$ off for other people. He is a good guy. He is a great chef.

What are your future plans?
-In the next five years, we hope to see Boo’s Bistro & Wine Bar grow to be one of the most popular restaurants in town. We don’t want to make millions, we just want to be comfortable. We hope that he will be able to work a little less, so that we can spend more time together as a family. And, who knows, if all goes well, maybe we will take the concept, and the name to Toronto.....and who knows where else. A friend of ours who also owns a restaurant did say, however, when Boo asked if he was going to open another restaurant, “Why carry two watermelons, when you can run with one?”

Any advice for other chefswives?
-My advice (although I am the last person in the world who should be giving it) to other chefswives is to be patient. Love them. Be their biggest fan. This business is tough, and heartless at times. They need us to be there for them, in good times, and in bad. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Boo's Bistro & Wine Bar
164 James St. S.
Hamilton, Ontario
L8P 3A6905-296-7598


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Chefs to Crave

This week's poll begging you to choose which chef you are most desperate for is lacking one thing: photos! I have recently discovered that many people who view this site come from all over (West coast, South Africa, and Canada to name a few places) and may not be familiar with these New York faces. So here you are ladies a better way to vote; inspiration:

Wylie Dufresne

Jean Georges Vongerichten

Marcus Samuelsson

Todd English

Eric Ripert

Thomas Keller

Mario Batali

Daniel Boulud

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

My Messy Chef

I speak with with inspiration from a fellow chefwife and I can imagine that many of you will agree. But please correct me if I am wrong.
Chefs seem to think that because they work long hours they are entitled to do less around the house.

As a teacher I have enjoyed a very relaxing summer consisting of reading, writing, planning, shopping for my new classroom, and cleaning. I know that my chef works a lot so I have done more than my share of the chores and general house maintenance. I mean, why not? I'm home all day long and he's not. After a few weeks I realized the chef hasn't done anything. I usually ask him to do a few things on those precious two days off each week. (i.e. clean the stove and dust or wipe down the microwave and sweep-nothing huge here people!) But that's ok, I don't mind-there isn't anything left for him to do by the time his weekend rolls around.

But let me ask you this: because I have free time to clean does that mean he should treat me like a house-elf? (for you non-Potter fans that's a slave of sorts) Now I find myself being asked to get my chef water, clean up his dishes, and other non-chefwife duties. Last night our lovely cat decided to throw up-gross I know. The chef said he would do it...after he finished his ice cream. (how dare I interrupt his eating) Well, it's now the next day and guess what-there is still cat vomit in my house! The neat freak inside me says to clean it up, but the angry chefwife inside says: "Leave it for him!" ARG.

I know they work long hours, I know they are tired when they come home. But household duties are to be divided among everyone in the house. I'm not asking for a 50/50 split of chores, I'm only suggesting that he clean up the nasty cat vomit and stop expecting special treatment.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Troubleshotting your Chef

Here are some sure fire ways (at least attempts and ideas) to get your chef functioning properly.

My chef will not help me cook: This is one is easy ladies-simply start cooking on your own. Get everything out you need, set up your mise en place, then get out the most outrageously improper knife to cut with. For instance if you are cutting up a tomato into slices, use a large butcher knife. Or if you are dicing a cucumber, use a butter knife. They will see your sad attempt to chop and their cheftosterone will kick in as they run towards you and say, "What are you doing?!? Let me do that!"

My chef goes out too much with "the boys": Not as easy, but doable with these options. Option 1 says to go out with your own girlfriends to get your mind of your chef who is probably doing J├Ąger shots at a sleazy but charming Irish pub. Option 2 says to join him and wear super sexy clothes. This will do two things, first it will get him nervous that anyone but himself will see your goddess body and secondly he will want you so bad you'll be on the next train home in minutes.

My chef is always playing video games: You must allow the chef to have some down time considering his chaotic and stressful schedule. However, too much of this "relaxation" for him becomes boring for you. At that point you can set up a time limit (I know it sounds juvenile, but you don't have to use a timer or anything). Offering a time limit with a reward will motivate the chef to play his games, then look forward to being with you afterward. Try this: "Hey, cheffie poo, how about you play for another hour, then we go get burgers and ice cream!" They love ice cream. Another idea is to join in. A little friendly video game competition is healthy and even more fun when you win!

My chef gets all the attention: I have noticed that other people- my parents in particular-have found the goings on of my chef more interesting than me! I know its hard to believe but a pharmaceutical marketing and second grade classrooms are hot topics. Since others think cheffing is just so cool, go along with it when they bring him up. Just don't forget to add that he won't be home for Thanksgiving, he worked a double on your birthday, and he smells like onions 24/7.

My chef smells like [ onions/fish/grease ]when he comes home: This is a nightmare, I know. One way to handle it would be to offer a bribe. "Oh cheffie poo can I give you a back rub?" and of course he'll say yes but it's at the right moment that you say, "It's too bad you're all sweaty and dirty, take a quick shower and then I'll start." Yes, you will have to sacrifice and give a back rub, but he'll be clean and he'll appreciate it.

If all else fails and your chef is doing something you don't like TALK ABOUT IT. Don't nag-believe me it drives them away. Speak in kind tones and remind them that you love them. It doesn't hurt to look longingly into their eyes either. Oh, and when they do something you like-reward them. Not like a dog of course, but its nice to hear, "Oh cheffie poo I loved the way showered for me when you came home. You're so sweet to me"

DISCLAIMER: I am not perfect. I am but a chefswife and therefore this advice is only advice to be used under direct supervision on your own common sense.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

Steal of a meal!

As most chefswives know chefs, although largely thought of as wealthy, all start out making less than a desirable amount. So when my chef found a great prix fixe deal-we jumped on it. Mario Batali never ceases to amaze me with his hard to believe marriage of television chef personality, business man and, well, CHEF. Enoteca is no exception to his blend of many talents. Serving as his flagship Del Posto's smaller, less formal cafe Enotecca offers a menu like no other cafe.

The prix fixe menu consists of 5 courses: antipasti, two primi dishes for the table, secondi, and dolci. For antipasti I had a deconstructed BLT which portion was much larger than I anticipated with taste to match. Between us we also had the eggplant, nudi, scampi, tagliata, and a sorbetti sampler (PERFECT) and chocolate torta for dolci. This more-than-worth-it meal was under $100 for two people and worth shouting about. Bravo to Mario as well as Joseph and Lidia Bastianich.

This restaurant is one of the few places in town that doesn't leave you feeling like you are eating a neo-purgatory minimalist hell, nor does it make you feel like there is so much crap on the walls you wonder if you are in a dirty garage. The decor is stunning, classy, and inviting. The live piano music brings me back to a time when live piano music brought food to my table. Thanks, David.

Now I am no food critic and I would hate for anyone to think that I am. However, I am here to pass along a steal of a meal to you. Enjoy!


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Anonymous ChefWife-Where are you??

There was a chefwife (g/f actually) who emailed me and I am so thrilled that she did because ever since starting this blog I have wanted to reach out to people like her. But, my dilemma is in the fact that I have no return email to contact her with!! Are you that lady? If so, please email me back and leave a return email! I would love to speak with you seeing has how you are as desperate as I am. I hope that you are a return visitor so that you are able to read this. We have a lot chirp on.
Hoping to hear from you soon.