Do you even know how to cook?
I grew up in the country. Where I was raised, there was a somewhat of an honour held in being known as a good cook. My grandmother would teach me secret family recipes from a book I felt was more sacred than the bible. In this book the knowledge of generation after generation of women in the family was painstakingly recorded for future use. I would stare at the pages, trying to sear the words into my mind so I too could preserve the secret.
I started playing with spices and also baking at a pretty young age. I would come up with creations and twists on the few dishes I knew – imagining myself to be quite the innovator. I started my own book of recipes, stockpiling knowledge I would share to my children as my very own secrets.
My apartment was full of people wanting to try my meals. Every dish would be licked clean, not a trace of leftovers in sight. There was nothing I loved more than to try and recreate some special memory of their grandmothers secret recipe.
Up until I married, I was used to people asking me to bring desserts or snacks, or to cook the whole meal myself. I would always find a way to push the boundaries, in an attempt to learn more skills. I would make painstakingly detailed cupcakes, with unexpected fillings. I would study the food profiles of different cultures – tasting everything I could to try to expand my palette. When you grow up in a farming community outside of a small town, you’re limited in the amount of cultural exposure you can find. I soaked it all in eagerly, like a sponge.
My husband is an Executive Chef. Ever since our wedding day people have started asking me about my creations in a different way, “Did your husband make this?” The look of disappointment on their faces was palpable when I explained I was the cook that day. I am always hearing that I must not cook at all at home, because I’m lucky enough to have snagged a Chef. The number of times people ask me, “Do you even know HOW to cook?”
I will be first to admit that once a week, on one of his rare days off – I am treated to all of the miraculous benefits of his knowledge and expertise with food. It is truly a treat to be able to pick a spice or any one ingredient and then see him pair it perfectly into a composed meal. Almost every day, I ask him for advice on how to work with something new, or mix things up. I learn countless things about wine and spirits – and how they pair with dishes to create a complete experience for the palette. He is a never ending resource on food and cooking methods, and I cant thank him enough.
The truth about being married to a Chef is that for most of the week, he will be at his other home. The restaurant. He will always aim to arrive there early, and to leave late. He will not expect the other staff members to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. My husband will work 50-70 hours a week, just to make sure that the other workers can go home at the end of the night. He will come home after every day, exhausted from the heat and the constant orders that come from being a successful restaurant.
He is often running on nothing but fumes, having only sustained himself off of snacks and bites through the day. He has been surrounded by stress, chaos and a list that seems to only grow the further into the day you progress. He is so driven to take care of his staff and his patrons that often his own needs get pushed to the back burner.
It’s because of this that I take time every day to try and create a meal that he might make for himself. I know I am NO chef. I don’t have years of technical training. I haven’t logged hundreds of hours on the grill. I couldn’t pretend to have earned the title of Chef simply for playing with my food.
I know that after hours of standing, meeting the demands of patron after patron. With a sea of over opinionated amateur reviewers out there – the last thing he wants to do is try and come up with yet another meal. My husband makes hundreds of people happy with his food every day. He pours love into their dishes and it is obvious in the dining room that he is touching lives, one belly at a time. Even the hardest worker has a limit to their work though, and by the end of the day the toll of work is written in the fine lines of his face.
I can’t hope to help him with the workload, or the temperature at his work. I can’t prevent his guests from coming in late, or staying past close. Instead, I can make HIM happy with MY food. For that one moment, while he eats like a man starved in the early hours of the morning, I get to be a small part of his world. I take care of his needs, because he simply doesn’t have the time to. In that I get the opportunity to thank him for the wealth of knowledge I have gained from him. I can apply the things he showed me and make him proud.
The life of a Chef’s wife can be lonely. With him gone so many hours, with so many late nights, sometimes it feels as though you are home alone every night. But through his career we have met a second family, our kitchen family. They support us though everything, and we do our best to thank them enough for all their efforts. Without them, my husband would be forever away from home.
To those who ask, always, “Did your husband make this?” No. He simply doesn’t have the time. Trust me though, he would eat it, and that should be enough for you to try. To those bold enough to question if I know how to cook at all, I only have one thing to say.