Monthly Archives: August 2015

Relationships

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My days back in the kitchen were a roller coaster of ups and downs. It is entirely possible to love your job and still not want to come back after a vacation, especially one as amazing as our anniversary/ENGAGEMENT trip!

The week started with what should have been two typically slow days but we ended up with 250 covers plus two 30-top parties on Tuesday and almost breaking 300 on Wednesday. Single-man stations. That sucked. Thursday was supposed to be better since our partners all came back (I’m working with my old station partner – from Plancha 1 – again, yay!) but they ended up spending the better part of service deep-cleaning the satellite kitchen and walk-in. The cherry on the cake was when the opening partners were all sent home just before a huge wave of tickets. I ended up selling about 15 orders of sautéed shrimp and plating up 12 orders of grilled octopus by myself in the last hour or so of dinner service. Ugh.

On the bright side, everyone has been showering me with congratulations and hugs and excitement for my engagement. I can’t wear jewelry on my hands in my line of work, so every day I string my stunning ring onto a necklace that Honey Bunny gave me for our first anniversary. I love telling the story of how it happened and showing off the gorgeous ring, and I’ve been told that I get so happy that I blush.

Honey Bunny is out of town for work this weekend so last night after service, I went out with a group of cooks for post-work drinks. They have been asking me to go out with them for a while now, pretty much the entire six months I’ve been working there. Plus, I wasn’t looking forward to coming home to an empty house (as much as I love the cats). When I said I was tagging along, one of the girls said she was honored that I would grace them with my presence. I know, it sounds so sarcastic but they were dead serious.

It wasn’t anything special – just closing down the night at a local bar that serves wine and beer on tap. They’re all regulars and even the server/bartender knows them all by name. But it was fun to listen to them rant and gossip and chat. Lots of stories, lots of laughs. Before we knew it, it was 2am; the lights were all brightened and it was time to go home. (Well, you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here!)

Now I feel old and tired. I think that one of the reasons they all go out to drink after work is that they’re all single. It’s hard to meet people working the hours we work. The best relationships are either with fellow industry people or were in existence prior to starting a culinary career (and managed to survive the challenges thereof). While I did enjoy their company and getting to know them on a more personal level outside of work, it also gave me a glimpse to how my life would be so different, so much more like Kitchen Confidential (minus the copious drug usage), if I had to endure this journey alone. I came home feeling so grateful and lucky to have Honey Bunny in my life, now and forever.

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Engaged

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So after nine straight days at work, my vacation with Honey Bunny finally arrived. I had gotten home around midnight without a single thing in my suitcase, so after a long night of packing and getting my shit together, I ended up sleeping for only an hour and a half before we had to leave for the airport. #chefproblems

We flew out to Chicago for our five year dating anniversary. We chose this destination because he had let me pick where we have our anniversary dinner. Since The French Laundry had wait listed us but I was able to score reservations at Alinea, we planned our whole trip around this dinner. Usually we skip the touristy sightseeing type places, but in the search for non-eating activities to fill our time, I wanted to go to the Sky Deck on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). So off we went.

On the 103rd floor, one of the main attractions is The Ledge, a glass wall and floor deck that juts out over the city, letting you stand over 1,000 feet above the ground in a trippy gravity-defying box. I usually skip the areas manned by photo booth companies as their images are always a huge ripoff. Plus, Honey Bunny had just bought us a GoPro with a “selfie stick” attachment. Why not just DIY a cool picture, I asked. But Honey Bunny was adamant and it wasn’t until we were standing out on that ledge that I learned why.

We took a standard smiling photo when he turned to me and told me how much he loves me. That I make him a better man and he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I was just feeling anxious about this impromptu speech when there’s a long line of guests awaiting their turn for a photo opp. But then he reached into his pocket and got down on one knee, and suddenly everything clicked. I was stunned, shocked, and overwhelmed with joy.

Of course I said yes. And purchased every overpriced photo that damn booth took. And more souvenirs than I would normally pick up at any one destination. That gift shop made a killing off of our euphoria.

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Later that night, we were able to gain access to one of the most exclusive bars in the city – The Office, a private speakeasy component of the already-exclusive Aviary, part of the Grant Achatz empire. Down a hidden staircase and behind a nondescript locked door was a beautiful 1920s Prohibition style lounge. We were just excited for the opportunity to even be there, but they were equally excited to share in our good news and treated us to a champagne toast! After almost accidentally dying by drinking a complimentary apertif that used an obscure walnut-infused liquor (just kidding, my allergy is not quite that severe but it was still a bit scary), I was treated to my first taste of chartreuse by the bartender to chase it down. Chartreuse is a liquor distilled by monks originally as an herbal cure-all. It immediately took away all of the tingling sensations and left the most amazing tarragon and anise aftertaste. It’s officially my new favorite thing and since we were celebrating such a wonderful occasion, I splurged on a $58 one-ounce pour of a chartreuse that had bottle-aged for 45 years (it’s from 1970). Amazing stuff. Honey Bunny enjoyed it as well and already decided that we should track down a bottle for the wedding.

The wedding. Engaged. It all feels so surreal. Today was one of the best days of my life. So readers, this is my official update that my boyfriend Honey Bunny is now my fiance Honey Bunny.

And the response on social media from our friends has been overwhelmingly joyous snd supportive and it gives me warm fuzzies. Love you all!

Shiny New Shoes

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The house feels so empty without the cats running around. My parents are cat sitting for us and they came to visit today to pick them up. On the bright side, they also dropped off my new work shoes. Yup, I’m finally replacing my first and only tattered pair of non slip shoes… the ones I’ve patched up with super glue more times than I can recall or care to admit. My dear friend once scolded me (out of love) about the importance of good shoes since my livelihood depends on my standing on my feet.

And the shoes? They’re awesome! Although today was an awkward combination of comfortable (this new pair is really well cushioned) and uncomfortable (after all, I am still breaking in new shoes, comfy or otherwise). Or maybe the pain was from standing on my feet at work for the eighth day in a row…

Man it’s been brutal. Copious amounts of coffee and Red Bull (and water to make up for the dehydration) are barely making an impact at this point. I’m excited to get this ninth and final day over with so I can take off on my vacation with Honey Bunny! Cheers!

Our Cat’s Ritual

Our younger cat (she’s 3 years old but I’ll always think of her as a kitten) loves to shower with me. She doesn’t like to go in the water for obvious reasons (like being a cat), but she will happily purr and roll around on the bathroom floor for the duration of my post-work shower. It has become our daily ritual and it’s so freaking cute.

Some days she is thwarted by our older cat, a grumpy 10 year old who will chase her off (his darn lawn) and try to claim our attention all to himself. On those days, she is visibly disappointed when I emerge fresh and clean from the shower. I think both of our cats have FOMO (fear of missing out).

But on most nights, like tonight, I walked into the bedroom to find her waiting for me, crouched behind the curtain on all four paws ready to spring into action. We made eye contact (that’s all it takes for her to understand that it’s shower time), and as soon as I rounded the corner toward the bathroom, she darted straight through the open door. Triumphant at her success, she immediately commenced kneading the bath mat, rubbing herself on my legs, and meowing cute little happy meows.

After crazy hectic nights of dealing with the dinner rush, it’s nice to come home to this adorable ritual. So fun fact Friday: I shower with our cat.