At 9am this morning I was standing in my kitchen with a satisfied smile on my face after admiring the cake I just finished icing. I got to do what we all love(d) doing when we were kids: lick the spoon. There’s a guilty pleasure in standing in your kitchen, donning pj’s at 9am and having chocolate butter cream icing for breakfast. At that moment, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia so fierce & so intense it brought tears to my eyes. It also made me miss my grandfather a whole lot at the moment. It was him, along with my mom that taught me the more simpler pleasures in life: baking.
As a professional Chef who is taking a totally different learning curve in hopes of switching careers, I’ve been thinking a lot lately of the journey I’ve been on for the past 20 years in my career and how it’s played a huge role in my life and the person that I am today. It was only this morning that I realized it had actually started a lot earlier in life. Not just in any kitchen, but in my mom’s kitchen. At both of their knee’s making cookies, cakes and other assorted things that were nothing short of homemade awesomeness. It was in my mom’s kitchen that I learned how to do things the old fashioned way. With quality, care and as cheesy as it sounds; lots and lots of love. Sitting on my knees watching my grandfather with rapt fascination making pie, getting flour all over the place, the way my grandfather would smudge flour on the tip of my nose, the eager anticipation of the cake finally being done and my sister and I each getting a beater with left over cake batter and being able to lick the bowl, eating raw cookie dough with no fear of getting sick and the lovely smells that would permeate though the house while something yummy was in the oven.
A time and place where things were simple and un-hurried unlike now.
Who knew that those moments, as simple as they were; would be the one thing that taught me the fine art of taking one’s time. The pride and satisfaction of doing a good job and not cutting any corners. By doing it by hand, one ingredient at a time as opposed to opening a box. It all started there, in my mom’s kitchen and perhaps subconsciously carried me through all these years. It’s taken guts, hard work, a lot of determination and some serious balls to make it this far in such a male dominated industry. My grandfather and my mother taught me the value of doing it good and doing it right and working hard to achieve the desired results.
I miss my grandfather always, today though I miss him a little more then I normally do. I used to drive my mom crazy when she would come home from work in the wee hours of the morning only to find that I had destroyed it by experimenting with something in the kitchen. It was worth it, every single minute. It’s going to be hard to leave my life as a Chef behind when I finally do but it’s been one hell of a ride with more twists and turns than a roller coaster ride. However, it’s led me to be able to do things like this:
Thanks mom, I love you and of course to my grandfather, the man who was my hero and who’s face is forever etched into my skin beside my heart where he belongs. I’m in part who I am because of you and I love me.
It’s a beautiful thing.
So is that cake! 😉