Probably the most asked common conversation that takes place in my life is the following one:
.... and what does your husband do?
Me: He is a chef.
Long pause while cogs turn then:
That must be so good, I would love to be married to a chef.
Does he cook at home? "
You are so lucky.
Yes, I am.
Does he cook amazing meals every night.
Wow you are so lucky
He is pretty lucky too.
Puzzled look or laugh.
When I first met Chef I liked food but because I was living just above the poverty line while at uni it was fuel rather than much more. My diet consisted of a lot of vegetarian curries, vegemite on toast and coffee. As regular readers will know from my blog intro it was a surprise feast of lamb shanks that really made me pay attention to the tall Chef who was always working and coming to the pub way after everyone else.
I remember he came over to my house and cooked this huge seafood feast and he bought his own knives and I remember thinking - wow he is serious. The first time we went out he asked the waitress if the barramundi was fresh or farmed? I remember thinking are you being a bit of a wanker? ( he knows this now as we have laughed about it since) but it was like a whole world opening up. I remember being mesmerised by his knife skills- you know that way Chef's can cut an onion really quickly while still having a conversation with you?
I remember the look of horror when he saw me trying to cut a pumpkin one day, and then he showed me how you do it properly. (Ooooh- so it is not actually a blood sport. hint: start with a sharp knife) )
I remember when I was washing up at his house and I dumped all his knives in the soap covered water and not surprisingly cut myself and he told me off ( like I was a first year apprentice) for putting all those sharp knives in the sink and I said "I am bleeding and you are being cranky with me!!!" ( lesson learnt though- I warn other people when they come to our house if they don't already know- don't put the knives in the sink bad for the knives as well as major safety risk)
I remember Chef giving me a copy of Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bordain and I read it and it was like I understood his world so much more. Although he says - and I believe him- he has never spat in anyones food for sending it back or done other horrible things he has seen it happen in big places he has worked. I understood that if you don't eat everything on your plate it is noted by the Chef when it goes back into the kitchen. I know that when people say they don't like something he has cooked that he really takes it personally.
I have also learnt about restaurants. If a place has 40 things on the menu it will never be good. ( with the exception of some Asian restaurants) Less is better and fresh is best.
I have learnt that kitchens can be tough it is a high pressured environment and if a wait staff take an order down wrongly it really does stuff everything up... when poeple come in and order gluten free meals and he goes out of his way to make them something not on the menu and then they order a peice of gluten filled cake for dessert- well that is annoying.
But that is what I have learnt from him. Most of all I think Chefs that are really passionate have a huge huge huge love of food. An appreciation for a fresh tomato or a beautifually cut peice of meat in a way I can never really understand. Not all chefs have this passion and my Chef had an apprentice once who ate McDonalds and we both just shock our head, with all the knowledge of food and ability to do amazing things why would she eat fake food? The first thing Chef talks about to his work mates are what they had for dinner last night. He is genuinely interested in other peoples food and what they eat.
But the best thing about being married to Chef is that passionate chefs' are feeders. They love to feed people -it is an act of love to cook for others. Chef loves to have people come over and to cook for them- he genuinely loves seeing people eat his food and enjoy it. The love that goes into our dinner every night obviously varies hugely but it is always really really good. From the moment he wakes up he is thinking about what we are going to have for dinner. As far as buying food we have no real budget, as we often say why work if you can't buy good food. We are lucky even though we live in a tiny town our town is rather food obsessed so our friends in the city cannot believe the range of cheeses etc and the brands we can get locally.
The fact that he cooks one of my favourite dinners if he knows I have had a bad day, makes me feel loved. I can feel the love with every bite, every mouth full. It is for him about providing comfort and nourishment from his own hands for those he loves. When I was in hospital after having Busy I was bought an array of beautiful meals every night and good coffee and other delights as their was no way he was going to let me eat the hospital food. ( and there was no way I was going to eat the hospital food)
If he is going away he always makes sure my dinner is cooked not because I am completely incompetent in the kitchen but because he knows I may just eat toast for dinner if he doesn't and he can't handle it. Some of the best meals he says he has ever had have been cooked in our kitchen. A 10 course degustation at our place 2 NYE's ago - that was so good our friend went into labour when she got home!! But even what he calls slop in a bowl is delish ( slop could be polenta and roast vegies with a beautiful tomato sauce) it's gourmet slop.
His Indian curries are better than I have ever had in any restaurant. The way he makes cheese on toast is impressive. I can't remember him ever making me something that I didn't like. Ever.
So to answer my original question what is it like being married to a Chef? It is great. It is amazing. It is a world of feasts and flavours and taste sensations. It is a life filled with gastronomical delicacies beyond my wildest dreams... but its not just great because he is a great Chef, it's because I know he loves me too.