The other day I was thinking about how truly amazing and glamorous it is to be married to a chef... all those fabulous meals he prepares for us at home each night, the romantic date nights visiting local restaurants with friends, our children being exposed to so many different types of food that they happily eat anything we place before them, the wonderful recipes and cookbooks I have access to, never having to pay for a meal when we go out to eat, owning the top of the line cookware and kitchen appliances... the list could go on and on...
But I'll stop there.
I'll stop there because it's not true. There might be some truth behind a few of those statements, but for the most part, for the majority of chefs and their families, they are pure fantasy.
I guess there is a part of me that understands this glamorous life of a chef that has somehow been portrayed to our society as truth. The fact that someone can create something so wonderful out of food, and do so for a large amount of people in a short period of time, is truly amazing. I get that. For some reason there just seems to be something glamorous, intriguing and mysterious about a man (or woman) in a chef coat.
But what happens when the chef walks out of the restaurant after working 16 hours a day for 7 days in a row?
What about the people behind the chef in the chef coat? Say... the person who washes the chef coats?
I have to tell you, there's nothing glamorous, intriguing or mysterious about being that exhausted or washing those chef coats after they've sat in the car or on the floor for a few days.
Now I don't say that to complain or so people will feel sorry for us. My husband is not serving in the military and deployed for 9 months at a time. (Thank you to those who serve our country in that way!) He comes home each night. I obviously don't want you to stop dining out at restaurants just so my husband can work less hours. I like that my husband has a job and that we can pay our bills. Thanks for your support.
I would just love for you to see the person inside the chef coat instead of just the chef coat. I would love for you to know a little about the spouses and significant others who support the chefs who cook for us at our favorite restaurants.
If you look inside the chef coat you'll see that chefs are regular people, just like you and me. They just can cook better than the rest of us.
Take my husband for example. He is a son, godly husband and father, piano player and an Executive Chef. Executive Chef is only one of his titles. He started off as a line cook when he was 21 and has worked his way up to his current position. He's an amazing chef and is well respected by his kitchen crew and staff. But all that has not come easily. It's taken a lot of hard work, long hours, sacrifice and support from us at home to get to where he is today.
The long hours and constant changes in schedule are TOUGH! Many nights he's so exhausted that he is asleep in less than a minute after his head hits the pillow.
It's not easy for him to get a text from his hysterical wife in the middle of the rush telling him one of the kids is throwing up and another is having a severe asthma attack.
It's not easy having to call your wife or significant other to tell them you're going to have to work on your day off tomorrow because one of your cooks just called in sick.
It's not easy to work nonstop during the holiday season when everyone else is out celebrating with their family and friends.
It's not easy to be a successful son, husband, father and chef all at once.
He is human, just like the rest of us. He's trying to figure out how to provide for his family and somehow be able to enjoy life at the same time, just like many of us. He just cooks better than us.
Those long hours and changes in schedule make it hard for those of us at home as well. Behind many of the amazing chefs that you see in restaurants are wives, husbands and children at home.
On holidays when restaurants are packed with people celebrating with their families, chefs are working 12-16 hour days and their families are at home, either having to celebrate without them or having to celebrate on a different day.
It's not easy for us to explain to our kids why Daddy has to work on Christmas.
It's not easy for us to attend social gatherings by ourselves all the time. After all, our spouses and significant others are working when everyone else is off.
It's not easy to work the opposite hours of your spouse or significant other, never having an entire day off together.
There's nothing easy about it.
With the great food comes the long hours and sacrifices from both the chef and his or her family.
There are so many articles and videos that only show one side of a chef's life. I just want to give the whole picture.
All that being said, combining restaurant and family life is not easy, but it is possible. I definitely wouldn't call it glamorous. It's more like an adventure. An adventure where we work to emulsify restaurant and family life, two things that you wouldn't normally think of putting together.
So to all you chefs and spouses/significant others out there, thank you for the sacrifices you make that allow us to take a break from cooking and to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. And spouses and significant others, I know what you're feeling. You are not alone.
Follow Jennifer Small on Twitter: www.twitter.com/emulsifiedfam