The other day I was on a jobsite––well a kitchen that’s adding on some walk-in coolers and freezers, so for me it’s a jobsite –– and out from the main kitchen walked a cook who used to work for me. Way back when. “Eddie!” the dormant chick chef in me sang out, like I was prompting him to hurry up with that prep list. But. . . that was nineteen years ago. Eddie smiled at me demurely, nodded and wandered past, carrying a hotel pan covered with plastic wrap.
And I thought, is he jealous that I’m designing the damn kitchens instead of working in them? Or is it my ego thinking that everyone who works in kitchens feels as trapped as I once did? Hm. . . .
I loved working in kitchens once. Then I hit that greasy ceiling or something with nowhere else to go. Eventually I did go but not too far because I’m in or around kitchens every day. I talk to chefs about their new kitchens, I design kitchens, micromanage the construction of kitchens, manage my crew who delivers, starts up and tests the equipment. Sometimes I go to grand openings, feeling proud of my work, that this efficient kitchen will see many days and nights of rocking food production. I’m leaving my mark all over the place in the form of kitchens. Yeah, satisfying. And I get to go home at night, drink a glass of wine and watch crime shows with my hubby.
So this is why I’ve been absent from the blog-o-sphere: I’m writing a memoir about this old life of mine ––Mis en Place-Memoir of a Girl Chef. I’d spent many years writing about surviving sexual child abuse but it’s the kitchen that saved me. Every morning at the computer all those crazy cooking tales flow from my fingers: the hot, tunnel-like kitchens, the snide managers, the drunken and leering cooks, the sweat-filled nights on the line listening to the Doors sing L.A. Woman, the travelling with World’s Fairs (my Carney years), the physical and culinary stamina I put forth to prove I was the best. All this made me who I am now: Kitchen designer, alpha chick, whatever. So Eddie? Eat your heart out.
(Oh and the egoist title of this blog? My husband said it after we went to an opening of a snazzy restaurant downtown I designed and was lavished upon with torrents of great compliments, “Wow, dear, you’re a rock star.” Bon Apetit!)