Speak Up

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Food Boss

I've heard from other chefswives and non chefswives alike that sometimes their significant other can be a bit of a food boss. What's a food boss? It's exactly what it sounds like. Someone who tells, or "politely encourages" you what to order, buy, cook, and eat. ARG- it's beyond annoying.

I only came to realize that Erik is a food boss. But it started about 5 years ago when we got married. Erik and I have always gone grocery shopping together. I don't know why it started that way, but now it's one of our weekend traditions and I really enjoy it. Anyhow, the food boss in him kicks in right away around the produce. I get a craving for asparagus and suggest a bunch to make with some hollandndaise. STOMP. That idea is quickly squashed by the boss who kindly reminds me that asparagus is out of season in November. AGH. On the one hand, I'm happy to have a chef around who is able to act as my own personal farmer's Almanac. But on the other hand, ignorance is bliss, or in this case, satisfaction and a full tummy. I'd rather buy produce in season. It's better tasting and better for the environment. But sometimes I want an apple in April!

I'm not going to lie. I LOVE Sam's Club and Costco. And a big part of that love comes from the terribly delicious food they serve ready to eat. Pizza, churros, icees, Italian sausage, and hot dogs. I'm salivating just thinking about it. Well the other day Erik asked me if I wanted anything else to eat. I asked for a soft pretzel. We had never got one from there before and I wanted to try one. I'm willing to risk the 97 cent loss to try one. He looked at me and said, "really? They don't look good"  How good can a pretzel look anyways? It's a hunk of dough and salt? I love my husband, he bought me a pretzel and it was warm, tasty, and just what I wanted.

Does anyone else have a food boss in their life? A boyfriend who discourages you from ordering the salmon because the restaurant is known for its burgers? A friend who reminds you how fatty that butter soaked shrimp is. A mother in law who coldly questions your choice of side dish for the pot luck?

YOU are the boss of your own food destiny.

Food is Love,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Whole Package

Hi Everybody! Firstly I would like to thank our gracious host for allowing me the space to share my vision with you. I am grateful to her for creating a place where I can feel understood, especially when society only sees the sexy side of this industry. My name is Kerilyn Russo. I, like you, are married to a chef. A smidge over one year now, although it took a decade for my husband, Peter, an Executive Chef at LIAS (http://liasrestaurant.com) an Italian restaurant in the DC area; and I to a place where we were ready to be together as husband and (chefs)wife. Probably for the same reason you already know, it's challenging to be connected to someone who works long hours, weekends, holidays; enjoys the night life, and the temptations that come with being a creature of the night. We have our moments when, no matter how "in" it we are in our relationships, we face our doubts, our love, our future plans that sometimes do not always seem on solid ground.

For myself, during those ten years, I had to go out and experience being with someone who was available when I was (being a 9-5'er). At the time I was convinced being the girlfriend of a chef just wasn't the life for me. Dating someone who had the same hours as myself was fun at times, but I eventually realized (it took a few years) that something was missing.

It was me.

I somehow misplaced the Kerilyn who relished having a Saturday to herself when she could get stuff done, and who enjoyed going out with her girlfriends on a Friday nite (even if it was to go to the restaurant where he worked). I became aware that when I was dating my chef, I had more time for self-care, and never found myself feeling the intense guilt that I did when I knew my boyfriend was home after work when I was. It was ONLY after being with someone who was more available, that I realized that what I had was what I wanted. It hit me one day when I was laying in my bed, missing that side of myself that felt more natural, more "me", that what I had with my chef (whom I always loved, that was never the issue) was what I had been missing. I am SO glad that I had the chance to experience the contrast to what I have now, to fully appreciate the freedom I DO have. I am grateful for lifes serendipity that I had the gift of reconnection with the man who I was always meant to marry.

So away we go into being engaged, working our way toward marriage when it resurfaced. It sounded a bit like:

ME: "Honey - What are we going to do for Valentines Day??"

HIM: "I don't know honey.. The restaurant has 300+ Covers that day...It's going to be a long day!"

ME: (Sad and angry but already knowing this) "Why don't you ask (insert one of my husbands fellow Chefs names here - Someone who already has kids and is married in this industry) how THEY make it work!!!"

HIM: "Why don't you ask his wife!"

That got me thinking... He's right! I don't need to ask my soon to be husband.. who does NOT know how challenging it can be how to make it work.. I need to ask the significant others! So I began to seek out an online support refuge - somewhere where I can commune with others in the same predicament as myself... found Hilary and the valuable resource which we now find ourselves; but I wanted MORE. I wanted to talk to someone who understood. To meet face to face, to get advice, to give my support. I was almost obsessed. And so, armed with my philosophy of "What do I REALLY have to lose?" I decided I would create what I wanted to find for myself! And that's when http://marriedtoachef.com became an idea in hibernation!

I am creating an entire platform where you can find exactly what your looking for, when you need it. You need to hear stories of how others got through it? Yep, check. You want to meet up with someone on your birthday when your Chef is working? Check. Maybe a play date with your children; so you can find a break with someone who REALLY understands. Yes! I want to interview wives and girlfriends of famous Restaurateurs to see how fame adds another level of challenge to the mix. I want to focus on the different stages of our relationship; dating, marriage, having a family and the exciting (and exhausting) world of restaurant ownership! I want to hear from YOU, to help others where you might have already found a way.This site is for US! There have been others all over the world, from Australia to London, to British Columbia who are already reaching out, that have already signed up to join us. I know there is a significant other in Hong Kong who is not sure she/he has what it takes to date someone in this industry. There is a need world wide for a place for US.

Finally, let me ask you a question. How many of you who are married to someone in this industry are just as much of a foodie as your significant other? I know there are many, but I also know of many who are not. For me, I am not. I am a 9-5'er who just wants a place to find community in our similar situations. There are tons of foodie sites, guaranteed to give you what your looking for. I am not as interested in making this about what restaurant to go to and what famous chef is running the line as I am interested in YOU. The other side of the coin. What made you KNOW that you wanted to be with someone who lives in this fast paced and short tempered world? How do you 'do' it when you have children? How do you find balance in this olive oil soaked world?

Please join me in our pursuit for understanding and support. Sign up and stay tuned when the website goes live in just a few short months (January/February 2011) .


Feel free to contact me at kerilyn@marriedtoachef.com if you have any questions or just want to say Hi! Thank you SO much for this opportunity. I hope as you and your restaurant man or woman goes into the holiday season you know, without a doubt that there is someone else out there asking the same questions, finding the same frustrations, and attempting to maneuver in an industry that doesn't always give recognition to the person who makes the restaurant what it is.. their significant others.

Kerilyn Russo

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Worst Critic

Chefs are built to handle criticism. Well, at least they are trained to. Customers, Yelpers, bloggers, food critics and fellow chefs all have something to say about they food your chef prepares for them. On top of that, an infinite number of things can go wrong during a meal...the food is too hot...too cold...too salty...too bland...too old school...too modern...too rare...too well done...too complex...too simple...overwhelming...underwhelming...

I've heard and said them all, plus a few. But what happens when the food you are criticizing is that of your own chef? I hope I'm not alone in this one. I feel such relief when I find out that I'm not alone.

Erik is a great chef. He was trained by the best (CIA, school of Jean-Georges). He's been featured in various publications and has an ongoing professional relationship with the Gohan Society. All that said, sometimes I don't like what he makes at home. And I've made the terrible mistake of telling him. You would have thought I insulted his intelligence and come to think of it, he probably felt as if I did.

I've learned my lesson and I always keep my mouth shut, but not too long ago if Erik asked how I liked something he made, I would answer truthfully. What was I thinking? It's not as if I hated any of the meals he's made for me. But a few times, gasp...the food just wasn't to my liking. I told Erik a couple times that the dish was too salty and he always replied the same: "Well, I guess since you hate all my cooking, I'll never make anything for you again." OK, Woah.

Needless to say he has since cooked for me, but I was in shock. After all, he DID ask. Didn't he want to know? I didn't make a face when I tasted the meal. I didn't spit it out. I enjoyed it and ate it all, but just had that one, insignificant comment.

Please tell me your chefs are the same way. And if they are, how do you deal? Do you still provide honest feedback or do you do the fake "yum" smile that we so often see on TV?

Since the over salty experiences I've decided just to keep my thoughts to myself. It's really not worth it. Maybe it's worse for Erik since I'm not a food critic, patron, or chef....I'm his wife.

Food is Love,