"That's like, my dream." This is what I hear when I say what my husband does. His job invokes images of dinner parties with friends and late night croissant making. This idea has been cultivated by TV shows and movies that show chefs doing sexy chef things like seducing partners in empty restaurant kitchens and, in a strangely arousing move, yelling at line-cooks. Generally, it sounds amazing. In the words of Liz Lemon: I want to go to there.
If you're ready to drink the herbal infused Kool-Aid, allow me to give you some tips that will ensure a happy relationship for you and your culinary love. I'll also highlight some common misconceptions. There will be no recipes though. Trust me, you'll accumulate enough of those on your own.
You will be alone. A lot.
Dating a chef sometimes feels like you're dating a doctor. A doctor that pushes wine pairings and buys butter by the case. The average working chef easily clears 60 hour work weeks, while in the fine dining realm that number may soar to 70 or 80. While other jobs provide the stability of a regular 8-5 work day, chef's hours change on a daily basis. Also like a doctor, their phone is always on, so when people call out, or produce orders fall through, they can go in and fix it. Remember, a good chef is a bonafide workaholic. So just go ahead and offer up any hopes of Sunday brunch together to the Gods of Hollandaise. Maybe you should invest in a dog.
This will never happen.
Adhere to the texting/call window.
There's a reason most "How to Get a Job at a Restaurant," articles say to only stop by between 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.. This is the magical lull between lunch and dinner service. This is also the only time you might be able to get a hold of your spouse. My texts with my husband resemble that of a crazed stalker. Just a blitz of sent texts with the occasional one word response. I've seriously hesitated when listing him as my emergency contact. What if I'm bleeding out? What if I'm kidnapped and I only have one call before my phone dies? The sad truth is, I wouldn't call my husband. I would call his produce guy who he picks up for and have him pass it along.
Make a budget -- but not for food.
Going grocery shopping in Washington, D.C. is tantamount to a full-contact game of Murderball. Just a bunch of unhappy people trying to get the last bag of kale. Because it's so time consuming, I usually take on this task and I'm okay with it. I'll carefully peruse aisles, comparing brands and seeing what's on special. I use the bonus card. I brag about how much I saved. When my husband joins me, it's a somewhat different experience. The cart will be used as a battering ram, taking over shelves, assaulting the cheese case, plundering the meat section. Prisoners of war will be collected as imported olives, bottles of wine and short ribs that (gasp) aren't even on special, fall like wounded soldiers into the cart. Suddenly my grocery budget for the month is blown on one trip. When this happens, you just have to sigh and accept it. I imagine it's like dating a hair stylist who will only buy $100 shampoo.
Soon you will know more about the industry than you ever wanted.
Growing up I would watch Great Chefs of the World after school. I believe I was the only 11-years-old in the Panhandle that knew what crème fraîche was. Because of this I thought I had a great grasp of culinary knowledge. However, now I can't even maneuver out of the metro without yelling "behind!" If I'm editing something I'll find myself thinking I should 86 this line. Suddenly I'm analyzing if my poached eggs were cooked in a sous vide circulator. I horrifyingly know that "swamp ass" is a job hazard of working in hot kitchens and ways to prevent it. What I'm saying is, soon you'll be speaking this own special dialect and shouting to your sister's kids "I've got two grilled cheese all day, who wants them?"
Remember when this was one of the only cooking shows on TV? How times have changed.
Celebrate New Year's on January 2nd!
Going out on the holidays is the best! Unfortunately the whole world feels the same meaning holidays are the busiest restaurant days. The upside is that I never experienced those "you're married now and dead to me because I never see you," moments with any of my single friends. Oh yeah. We're talking being the awkward third-wheel even after you're married.
Just lie and said they made it.
Much like strippers don't want to come home and do another lap dance, chefs don't want to always come home and cook. I have accepted this. Friends and family have a harder time. Before I met my husband I loved to cook and bake. I participated in cookie swaps. I read the Joy of Cookingon the beach like it was Glamour magazine. But now, suddenly I find people are disappointed when I cater the dinner party. I'll enter the family Thanksgiving with a platter of miniature pilgrims crafted in pastry and hear "Did your husband make this?" When I say no I can sense their disappointment. Like I'm depriving them of some chef-selected casserole concoction. Eventually it got to the point where I just started lying. Everything is "made by him" and everything is immediately heralded as delicious. Shhh. Let's just keep this our little secret.