I met a chef, just a little while back, at a wedding. I was excited to be introduced – after all, he DID work at Quay for the last 3 years and started this year at Dinner in London.. Peter Gilmore and Heston Blumenthal, the two chefs who are currently my favourites, in terms of food philosophy, if not even counting how exciting their food seems to me. I may have never tried Heston Blumenthal’s food, I appreciate the fact that HE appreciates how psychologically we perceive food. Food and a bit of science and psychology – Why not?
Back to that chef. We ended up chatting a little about food, and besides the fact that I could communicate with him partially in Korean, he expressed how fascinating it was to see someone like me, who’s not in the food industry, to be so passionate about food. Of course, he had an interest in food, but he maintains that he entered the food industry for the main purpose of the career, and it was only then he learnt more and his passion grew. Hence, he just cannot believe how someone who could babble on, so very excitedly, about food, would not be involved with food day-to-day as an occupation as well. Perhaps he hasn’t met many food bloggers, or other people who love food avidly, be it dining or cooking at home. I am definitely not the only one. But his words did strike a chord with me.
It was something I began to hear quite often, in the last few years. “You seem to love food and cooking so much, why aren’t you in that industry?”, and other variants, from all different peoples. And perhaps it was at a time I was feeling jaded with aspects of my studies, and reassessing the career prospects of my chosen occupation, that I started ruminating about the possibilities of changing tracks. It felt dangerous even in my mind, and I was extremely cautious. But the more I thought about it, I knew I had to give it a try. I somehow managed to receive approval (Traditional Asian family, the dynamics and rules never change even when you’re greying) to give it a shot, and I did. It wasn’t entirely what I had hoped for, but it was a start, that first job in the kitchen. Being an all-day breakfast place, and open from morning till night, I remember falling straight to sleep every time I had a chance to half-sit on something. I had cuts and burns, and I still liked being in the kitchen, there was a touch of familiarity and excitement. I even got excited when the boxes of mushrooms came in for us to prep! But during that time, I also came into contact with some old friends who were working in an area associated with healthcare. I was reminded of why I chose healthcare in the first place, I was reminded of the demands of being a chef and the sacrifices it called for, and I learnt more about the food industry. When it was time to head back to Sydney, I finally decided that there were things I needed and wanted to do still, away from the food industry.
It wasn’t easy, especially when I know it gives me great joy, and to be reminded, by many who see that. I, too, aspire to be a great chef, on par with my favourites, as impossible as that sounds, but there are so many other things I feel like I need to do, want to do, that I can’t possibly be everything at the same time. But I’m not giving up on doing something with food entirely. I guess that’s the whole purpose of this. An outlet, I suppose. It’s not the same as getting into the kitchen and working with my hands, with food, but I guess that’s the great thing about food. There’s always a way to enjoy food, through eating it, cooking it, photographing it, or plainly talking or writing about it. The sad thing is my ever-expanding waistline…!
I will never forget something he said. “If someone like you, was in a position like me, right now, I wonder what it would be like..” (in Korean) I wonder that, too. And that’s all for now, I can only simply wonder..