People are downright fascinated when I tell them I'm about to marry a chef. Celebrity chef culture is so pervasive in this country; chefs are today's new rock stars, wielding Japanese knives instead of electric guitars. It all looks so fun and glamorous -- as the other half of a chef, I'm clearly partaking in all this glitzy, fancy food-induced awesomeness, right? That's both true and false.
1. No, I'm not marrying my own personal chef.
One of the very first things anyone says to me when I mention my fiancé is a chef is some variation of "Wow! You're so lucky, you must eat so well every night." Now, let me ask you a question. How would I be the one eating well every night when it's literally my chef's job to make sure other people are eating well every night? People are usually surprised to find out that I do about 95 percent of the cooking at home -- usually for myself with leftovers in the fridge for cheffy when he gets home late. On his nights off, either I cook or we order takeout; he's not exactly in the mood to cook after cooking for 12 to 15 hours a day, five or six days a week. It's ok. My food doesn't completely suck.
2. But when he does cook... OH MY GOD.
Let me tell you, when he DOES decide to whip out the fancy pots and pans and turn our tiny, New York City kitchen into a mess, it's TOTALLY WORTH IT. (I'm only half kidding about the mess -- he's improved in recent years.) His food... I'm not sure I have words enough to describe the wonderful flavors of his creations. And they are creations -- no home cook could come up with the dishes he makes in our kitchen. It's such a treat, albeit a treat that might only happen every few weeks, but it's worth the wait every time.
3. Date night? How's Tuesday sound?
A date night on a Friday or Saturday is very, very, very rare -- he's busy cooking for you at his restaurant for your date night! That being said, my chef's days off usually land in the middle of the week so that's when we spend time together. I have a lot of time to myself on nights and weekends, which is both a blessing and a curse. I get total control over the TV at night and I don't feel bad going out for drinks with co-workers or friends in the middle of the week. On the flip side, it can get lonely and sometimes all the Sunday brunches in the world with your friends don't always make up for the fact that they're not with your other half.
4. My cooking skills have actually improved.
I'm going to tell you a little story that both my mother and my fiancé won't let me live down, so I might as well spill the beans. When I was in college, I screwed up Easy Mac. Yes, microwaveable, packet-of-macaroni-with-a-splash-of-water Easy Mac. It's supposed to be so fool-proof that children can't mess it up. I won't go into details but needless to say, it wasn't the highlight of my culinary skills. You really can only go up from there. Anyway, the point of sharing this story is that now my mom says things like "You know how to braise chicken legs in stock? How do you season xyz? Wow, your black beans and rice is better than mine..." I attribute all of this to watching my chef in the kitchen, as well as actively having him teach things to me -- which can be intimidating! I mean, he's a professional! But he's the best teacher to have -- he knows what's up. And he's not afraid to help me.
5. Patience is key. And so is passion.
Being the other half of a chef can be hard and yet so rewarding. Yes, he comes home near midnight or after most evenings. Yes, he's not around on weekends and can't come to family functions. Yes, he usually has to work the holidays. Yes, I eat dinner alone most nights of the week. It takes a certain amount of patience to be ok with this type of lifestyle -- something that I'm still actively working on. But guess what? The hours and days that I do get with my chef, the short spans in time where he's not working, are the most meaningful moments of my life. His passion, creativity, ambition and drive are all traits I admire about him and he brings all of these things to the table outside of the kitchen. We both have to be equally passionate about making our relationship work or else it just wouldn't. We're not physically together enough to take each other for granted, and the time we spend together, even if it's just an evening of Chinese takeout on the couch with wine and Modern Family, is the glue that holds us together.