I suspect that most foodie types secretly dream of being chefs. I know that I watch shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” and think that I would never burn the Potatoes Anna, or make my Wellington too rare. On the other hand, aside from a couple of catering gigs (and preparing hot dogs for a crowd of starving boys at a sleepover), I have never had to cook under that kind of pressure. I know that I do not have the knowledge of recipes, sauces, and techniques that real chefs can claim. I don’t know how to clean and bone a fish, and I have trouble remembering which sauce is Hollandaise and which is Bearnaise without written instructions. I don’t have a knife roll. I am a pretty good and adventurous home cook, I am passionate about food and cooking, but I am not a Real Chef.
I’ve come to a crossroads in my life, though, where I have the chance to make a change and do what I love. I’ve been working as a sort of attorney/consultant, and the work has slowed to a trickle in the past few months. The economy in this state makes it difficult to find real, full-time law jobs, and even if jobs were abundant, I really wouldn’t want to work 60-80 hours a week when I have a young child at home. (Or ever, to be honest). Did I mention that I have always hated law and that it was the biggest mistake I ever made? That’s a factor, too. Its also significant that Rob travels for work, and that if he were out of town, and I had to stay at the office until 8:00 p.m., Sam would be the human sacrifice.
So I’ve been considering other kinds of work. The bulk of my non-law experience is in retail, and unless I become a manager (there’s that 60-80 hours a week again) I can’t make enough money to cover what I’d spend in gas and babysitters. Not to mention the fact that retail would require me to work evenings and weekends, and because Rob travels so much, that would often mean arranging babysitters to be with Sam after school, get him to sports practices, help him with homework…basically to attend to all of the things that I love to do with him because I’m his mom. I know that there are legions of working moms who have to do these things all of the time, but I keep thinking that there has to be a way that I can earn some money without missing the last years that Sam is at home and still wants to be “my little boy,” at least when no one’s looking.
Always, in the back of my mind, is this dream of cooking for people. I love to do it, I know how to do it, I really like people and I enjoy providing them with what they need to be happy. Could I do it? I have done some preliminary research, and discovered that Personal Chefs cook for several clients a week, in the clients’ kitchens (so no health department issues) and that the income is pretty darned good. Most Personal Chefs are not “real” chefs, just people with a passion for cooking. Also, because most clients want the cooking done when they are not in the house, it tends to be done during the day – I could go to a client’s house, make them something yummy for every night of the week, package it and freeze it for them, and be home in time to meet Sam with a cookie and a glass of milk.
Every time in my life that I have had a choice between doing something that I loved, that came easily to me and something that I could do, but that was a struggle, I picked the harder thing and regretted it. I started the trend when I picked my first college major, and carried it through to attending law school. There is some bitter, puritanical old woman living in my head telling me that work can’t be the logical extension of my passions, and that I can never actually love my job. Life is real, life is earnest, life is hard.
I’ll keep thinking about this, but maybe, with a little encouragement, I’ll find that its not too late to replace that old puritan in my head with a jolly little man who looks kind of like Emeril, and who tells me that if I’m willing to work really hard, I can be making meatloaf instead of objections….