Speak Up

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Guest Blogger: So You Wanna Date a Chef? Good Luck!

When I first met Brian and he said he was a Chef, I nodded. Smiled even. When he said he was a chef at one of the best restaurants in Chicago,--my eyes lit up! I assumed, like most girls, that this meant a whirlwind romance of fancy dinners prepared for me daily, lots of time to spend together, and of course,--being able to get into places I normally can’t snag myself. Well. One out of 3 ain't bad.

It was hard at first. To see the burns and the cuts from that darn mandolin. And the calluses on his right hand that will never go away. It’s great to be with someone who is so passionate about their work. But it’s also not great to be with someone who is so passionate about their work.

Time. Meet your new enemy!! Time is now my new fear. It used to be sharks but I am now more afraid of time than anything in this world. Because time feels to never be on your side. And you will know what I mean if you decide to date a chef. My best advice is that you just relax when you do see him. Don’t make big plans or god forbid reservations at a restaurant. I made that mistake in the beginning of our relationship. Thinking that this was like all the other 9-5 er dudes I have dated. They simply don’t have TIME.

In the morning when he has to go to work, I feel as if there’s a referee standing there with a stop watch time ticking away. “It’s 11:40 am,!!! “Babe, I gotta go to work” is the line you get used to hearing.
We went to eat at NoMi at the Hyatt downtown, and the server asked if I too work in the industry. “No I replied” and Brian told him that I travel for work a lot and am gone on my tour. (Very much like George Clooney’s character in the movie Up in The Air.) The waiter joked “Well it’s not like you get to see him anyhow.”

The sad thing? It’s actually 100% true.

I joke that I sometimes hate his work. I don’t but I sometimes hate that they get him 90% and I get him 10%. He argues that it’s more like 80 /20 but I disagree.

If you are going to date a chef, realize that you can never really be “normal”. You aren’t going to have those dates on a Saturday night of dinner and a movie. You aren’t ever going to spend New Year’s Eve together or maybe Christmas either. You are going to have to spend time alone some nights waiting for him to get out of work. Which is never soon enough. I fall asleep sometimes and he will call me and wake me up. And that’s fine. Get used to his crazy hours.

Sunday is going to be your new favorite day. Or Monday.

I suggest that you don’t just tolerate his work. Really understand his business. Learn to love it. Cause then it is something you both are passionate about. Right now I am reading Foie Gras Wars all about the ban here in Chicago and the origins of Foie Gras.

Sure, you’ll never know as much as he knows,--he went to culinary school to learn all those things!! To me MAC is always going to be makeup and computers not knives.

For all the women who DO NOT work in the service industry, it’s a lot harder for us than a women who works WITH their boyfriend. You go 12 hours without seeing him. Daily. So I do recommend that you get used to text messages, photos from your phone and of course maybe an email thrown here and there just telling him he’s awesome and you’re thinking about him.

Book I am also reading now that is a MUST READ: The Soul of A Chef by Michael Ruhlman. It’s a page turner for sure and you learn of my new idol, Brian Polcyn of Forest Grill, http://www.theforestgrill.com who has something many Chefs lack, balance between home and work, with a successful restaurant, wife and 5 kids.

Book NOT to read, Anthony Bourdaines’s Kitchen Confidential. I love Anthony Bourdaine but I won’t read it because I am scared to read what really goes on in those kitchens. Sure. The “industry” has a notorious reputation for all Chef’s being cheaters and sleazebag drunks who cheat on their wives and girlfriends. Yeah. Don’t want to read that.

But there are the few chefs who just want to be normal. Who want to be happy not just in their work but outside their work as well. They want it ALL!

They want an actual relationship. They want some kind of normalcy. Some do want to be married and some do want kids. (And that whole urban legend of Chef’s not being able to have kids due to the heat in the kitchen is totally untrue.)
I learned that me complaining about not being able to see him isn’t ever going to help anything. So I just accept it. It’s going to take time to really accept his schedule. I am still working on it. He feels guilty that he’s at work all the time, but I always tell him it’s OK!!!

These guys, these Chefs,---they have tons of stress mentally and physically. So just do your best to be there for him. When he’s had a rough day at work be the one who gives him a back rub or takes him out for a beer and a chat. Or maybe just put some lotion on those darn rough hands of his!

Marianna Harrison

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm Fine, But Not Fine

Nearly two weeks ago I experienced one of the scariest nights of my life. I was meeting three teacher friends in West New York and I was walking alone to a restaurant. I was crossing the parking lot when a cab made a left hand turn (running a stop sign) and hit me. The front of the cab struck my left hip and I fell on the ground. I'm not sure how I fell or even how I landed because it all happened so fast. The first person to see me was ...of course...the chef of the restaurant. He was outside on a break and he helped me to the curb, called 911, and stayed with me until my friends got there. What a great guy. A couple of ambulances came and since I was able to walk on my own I went to the hospital about a mile down the road with my friends. After four long hours in the ER, I finally heard the babies heartbeat and I was immediately able to relax.

The baby is fine. I had an ultrasound a few days later and the breathing and movement are all great. All in all, I suffered some bumps and bruises, but I'm still in a lot of pain. My knee is really messed up and it's been hard to walk ever since. Hopefully that will go away in another week or two. My back is aching all the time as well. Emotionally though, I'm a wreck. That night was so scary and Erik was all the way in Hawaii opening a new resto. He was able to fly home the next morning to took care of me. I'm so grateful for him being able to come home so quick.

My friends certainly go to to know me on a new level that night. Let me tell you-if you want to get to know someone better-spend the night in the ER. The urine samples, personal questions asked by doctors, and my big belly hooked up to heart monitor all let my friends in pretty close that night.

As far as the cab driver goes-the police filed a report and we've hired a lawyer. That won't be over for another year or so, but I'm glad someone else is handling all of the paperwork.

My goal now is to relax during my Christmas break, heal my leg, and enjoy the holidays.

Food is Love,