Second Career Day One...Or...This is the first day of the rest of your life
Feb. 20, 2011 3:08 pm
Updated: May 27, 2011 8:48 am
Last September, I got divorced...twice in one month. I was divorced from my husband of 18+ years as well as "divorced" from my job of 22+ years. The job and I parted ways on September 10th and my divorce was final on September 17th. Oh...and just in case
that wasn't enough, I listed my house for sale on September 8th. Needless to say, 2010 was a "transition" year for me.
But this is not one of those blogs where people will have to endure reading about the daily trials and tribulations of my life. This first (very long) entry will set the stage, give you an account of how I got here and then I actually intend to blog about
food, cooking, wine, recipes, kitchen experiences, culinary school etc etc. If you've read my AllRecipes profile, you know that I grow up cooking and that I still love cooking today. I read cookbooks for fun, tear out recipes from any magazine I can get
my hands on and am not afraid to experiment in the kitchen even though failures do occur.
Over the last several years I have been wondering "what am I going to do when I grow up?" I loved my job and the people who worked for me (some for a decade or more). I loved my husband and most of the parts of our life together. I loved my house by the
lake and its view of the mountains. I traveled extensively during the week for work. I was often up at 3 am Monday morning to catch a 6 am flight out of Seattle/Tacoma airport and was lucky to get back home before dinner time each Friday night. But what
did I do for "relaxation" on the weekends?
So when life threw lemons at me, I decided to make homemade limoncello...literally. For the first 6 months I was "not working" (that sounds so much better than "I got fired/laid off/shafted by my long term employer") , I cooked like a mad woman nearly every
day. I perfected recipes I had been working on for years (Gnocchi with Vodka Sauce). I tried new things (Brioche). I made a list of the things I still wanted to try (Popovers) and those that I had been beaten by in the past (Bernaise). I worked my way
thru the list (and continue to do so today). Every time I talked to my Mom she asked how the search for work was going. That got old really quickly so I tried to avoid the question by telling her that I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and until I figured
that out, looking for work seemed "inappropriate".
My intent all along has been to get to a point where I can open my own eatery. I used to call it my "deli/cafe thingy" because my intent was for it not ever really to be a place that had a steady menu. I wanted to make a few salads, a few dishes, a few soups,
some breads and desserts, offer a few sandwiches and let the customers choose their favorites for a meal to eat now or to take home. A very "french" approach to an eatery, but no french food!
I have gone thru a few stages of figuring out how to make this dream come true in the last several months. Its kind of like those stages that people talk about when you find out you have a terminal illness. My old life was dead and I needed to accept it and
make a new life.
My plan in stage one: Buy a cafe in the town where I grew up and turn it into my dream eatery. The problem with this plan, is...I don't want to live in that town. I left when I was 17 and there was a reason for that. Its not where I wanted to be.
My plan in stage two: Get in an RV and travel the USA. There are bound to be diners, cafes, etc where the owners are looking for someone bright and talented to buy into their business and continue their legacy. Turns out there are a few of these opportunities
available and I was intent on seeking them out. So intent, in fact, that I actually bought a used, low mileage RV last fall and intended to "hit the road" as soon as the sale on my house closed. Turns out that even though I researched, thought out, carefully
considered every angle of RV living, the actual act of living in that incredibly tiny space (have you seen the size of those kitchens?) did not appeal to me at all. Side note - if you are looking for a great deal on a used, low low mileage RV, please contact
My stage three: Kind of a combo of stages 1 and 2. Find a location that suits me and build or buy a business in a tourist town where I can feel at home and become a part of the community. The problem with this plan is...starting up a business from scratch
is expensive and 90% of these businesses fail in the first 2 years. I didn't want to put my entire life savings into something and lose it and getting a loan to start a business when your credentials are "everyone says I am a great cook" is not very realistic
in this economy.
My stage four: Retreat to Hawaii for 24 days in the middle of one of the rainiest, windiest, nastiest winters the Seattle area has ever seen. Use up all those frequent flyer miles you accumulated over the years, spend all those premium hotel points on free
nights at gorgeous resorts. Sit on a beach, get a fabulous tan, spend very little money and think about what you really can do to start working on "the dream".
On the flight over to Hawaii, I sat next to a lovely woman who engaged me in conversation for most of the 6 hour journey. As a professional traveler for 22 years, I usually just put on my noise reduction headphones and pretend that I am deaf if anyone tries
to talk to me. I am always armed with my iPad, a couple of spare magazines and a notepad. I look very very busy on a plane so as to discourage talking seatmates. Well...my plan failed miserably as she was clearly more determined to talk than I was to ignore.
During our conversation, she said that she had attended a 6 week cooking school in Lyon, France. It sounded like fun and I looked into it when I was dreaming on the beach one day. When I was browsing around the net on my iPad all those days, I found all
sorts of schools in the US and abroad. There are long term and short term programs for home cooks, professional chefs and chef wannabes. Could I really spend $41,000 and go to Italy to learn to cook in Tuscany for 6 months? Uh...no. I still have family
and financial obligations. But the idea of culinary school was stuck in my head and I began to earnestly search for realistic options.
My stage five: Reality. My house sale is closing soon. I need a place to live and I need to start living the "rest of my life". I have an interview at a culinary arts school in Las Vegas a week from tomorrow. Yes..I know...Sin City...I can't hardly believe
it myself. Its not like I need to interview to get in (they pretty much take anyone who can pay the tuition), but I want to spend some time there and make sure its the right place for me to "learn" how to cook. I figure the externship options at all those
great food places in Vegas is probably worth the price of admission.
Stay tuned for that adventure as I plan to blog about my culinary adventures at school as well as those at home.
THANK YOU FOR READING MY FIRST POST!
On the plate for today:
Brioche - already rising in the bowl. Its going to make awesome french toast tomorrow morning...if it lives that long.
Pulled Pork Enchiladas - had some homemade corn tortillas in the freezer. Already assembled and in the fridge waiting to be heated up for dinner.