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Monday, 18 July 2011

Leap of Faith

It may have become apparent by now, but I'm a lover of food. Ever since I was dextrous enough to slap my hands on a table, food has been something that excites me, that I want to learn about and that I want to share. My heart aches for those who have a difficult relationship with food, either through lack of it, fear of it, or through regarding it with insufficient understanding or respect, and I really believe in its power to heal, restore and transcend, if treated properly.

I have not, however, always had my current thirst for knowledge of it. I've never been a fussy eater, but like so many others, needed encouragement to push my own boundaries, both in terms of what I eat and what I cook. I have been shaped by many people in this regard. My grandmother, proprieter of 'Nan's Cafe' made me 'Uppity Cakes' because I wanted to know what they tasted like when she read me a bedtime story about them, and spotted my blossoming interest and allowed it to fire her own. My mother let me be free in the kitchen as soon as I could read 'Topsy and Tim's chocolate cook book' and is the first to pick up on comments I make on a recipe or food writer that interests me and run with it. My first love brought his gap-year restaurant job home, kindled my love of fish and recipe books, and taught me that I, too, could cook if I wanted to.

This hasn't been reflected in my choice of career, however, largely because I had no idea how to make it do so. I still don't have the long-term answer for this, but I am about to bring it a little closer. I've felt unfulfilled at work for some time now, the silver lining being the free time it allows me to cook, bake, research recipes and share food with friends. Being good at something does not guarantee enjoyment, I have learnt, and I have a GCSE in German to prove it!

Recently an opportunity to leave my job became clear and I decided to resign and give myself the push I needed to start acting on what I enjoy. Immediately, I found a position that matched my passion with my skills, and won an interview, only to find my lack of kitchen experience weakened my prospects. Undeterred, and with no other employment in sight, I handed in my notice and set about formulating a plan. If kitchen experience was what I needed, it is what I would get.

I've always been a believer that the best way to learn is to do, and that by showing someone how to do something new, two people stand to benefit. I considered my kitchen experience options and started making calls. Some nerve-wracking conversations, meetings, favours, discussions and meals (of course) later, I landed myself a combination job offer. I would split my time between an all-day seasonality-centric cafe and a modern european brasserie, both within half an hour from home, working a variety of shifts across all aspects of the business. I continue to feel very lucky for such an opportunity, and for the understanding of key people about where I'm coming from, and the fact that not even I know where I'm going to.

Having just reached the end of my first week, I am pleased to share that my decision seems to be going well! I've completed my first double shift, soon to become a foundation of my week, learnt about the opacity of chef's whites, washed, peeled, chopped, plated up and garnished everything from artichokes to tuna tartare. I have no scars yet but have been known to carry an unwipeable grin and effervescent conversation, two things that have been lesser-spotted for a while.

And so for the time being, this blog is going to recount my journey. I was asked this week if there was anything I particularly wanted to learn and I replied "Everything!!", so I will try to share my lessons with you. Wish me luck!

4 comments:

  1. Sarah I love this and I'm ever so proud of you! Xx

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  2. Good for you, do what you enjoy, too many people doing jobs they hate.

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  3. great news!!! bonne chance maman x x x x x x

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  4. Sarah - I love your blogs, good luck in your new adventure. It's very inspiring! x

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