And sous it is..

-When is the part-time thing happening?, this sous chef asked.

I told him I had to wait until the end of the month to hear back from the powers above.

-You must feel special. They’ve never done anything like that for anyone before.

Yeah, special, I said, rolling my eyes.

I respect this sous chef a lot. He cares about the job he does, and in this very stressful environment, he does it extremely well. He treats everyone in the kitchen fairly, and is very level headed, despite the impossible number of coffees that he drinks and cigarettes he smokes. He buys Gatorade for the boys, and watermelon for me. Away from work, he also has twin baby girls and probably the world’s most understanding wife. How he juggles all this, is, really beyond me.

To tell you the truth, the one thing I really feel is maybe a bit guilty. Guilty that I can feel the tiredness scratching the back of my eyes. The loop of the blue striped apron hangs like a noose around the neck. Call it a derivative of Stockholm syndrome or whatever, but I still love my job, and can’t imagine ever doing anything else. Probably my one big problem is that I’m not good at the whole juggling thing.

This week, I will be mostly :

1 Listening to Heart by Stars
2 Reading The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
3 Missing the boy, who flies to Vegas soon, “for work”

Last week, I finished reading a book. The first one in ages. I realised a long time ago, that one of the sad things about growing up is that I no longer have time to lounge around all Summer, sucking down chocolate Paddle Pops, surrounded by a sky-high stack of books. It was through many youthful (and pallid) years of avoiding the hot sun and the tyrannies of a sandy beach, that I discovered Hunter S. Thompson’s letters, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (ironic, isn’t it) stories.

In fact, these days, I kind of wonder what the 14 year old version of me, would think of myself now. Would I be disappointed to discover that I’m not that veterinarian or forensic scientist?

I think the 32 year old me will probably say to the 14 year old : Listen, the first thing you need to know, is that Chad Allen is never going to reply to your fan letter, and not just because it turns out that he’s gay. Secondly, life, is going to be nothing like you expected it to be. Disappointingly to your parents, you will not have “Dr.” in front of your name, nor will you sport a fancy ring on your finger or 2.5 kids at your hip.

No, it’s actually going to be even better. You will go to University and even though you will end up doing nothing related to your resulting degree, you will relish the experience. You will make friends there that you still count as some of your closest to this day. In your first year, you will also get your first computer account and through it you will meet even more new people, including one guy who will start out as a friend and eventually turn into someone who means so much more to you.

Today, he will come home from work and you will have soy glazed pork with slaw and potato fritters, followed by a frozen chocolate mousse cake. Whatever happens after that, and the day after, doesn’t matter, because it will be just as wonderful and unexpected as the days have been so far.

So, breathe, relax. It’ll turn out okay. Although, maybe you might want to learn how to juggle a little bit..

(Frozen chocolate mousse cake : chocolate sauce, sour cherries (compote and sorbet), peanut butter powder, peanut and banana tuille)

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  1. Christie @ fig&cherry said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

    Mutli-tasking is an adrenaline rush. I love it. I’m sure you will too.

    I used to read all Summer long too. But I never wrote fan letters… although I had a major crush on Stephen Dorf (embarrassing!).

  2. FFichiban said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

    Hee hee very pleasant post ^^! and the soy glazed pork with slaw and potato fritters sounds just as amazing as your chocolate mousse cake looks. Yum!

  3. Tanya said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 6:26 pm

    Great post…if only I could go back in time and tell my 14 yr. old self some things.

    By the way (and this is just from my own experience), the sous chefs were always better to deal with (and way less scary) than the actual chef. πŸ™‚

  4. Christy said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 7:34 pm

    So you are finally going part time, huh? It’ll be really great if that works out for you—means that you’ll have more time to bake and blog for yourself. Going to uni and not doing anything related to the resulting degree…hey, that’s exactly me!! And your advice to “breathe, relax.” You might as well have put my name before the sentence. I still don’t know if everything will turn out ok though—that part of my life remains to be seen.

    Oh, and I decided to go with vdm. I just don’t know if turning my hobby into my job is such a good idea at this point. And I don’t think that running your own business can be far worse from what you’re going through right now. Just find a good business partner to help you out with things.

  5. Cakelaw said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 9:07 pm

    Growing up and having to leave the fun stuff behind sucks. Fingers crossed for you on your request to go part-time.

  6. mir said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

    So wise, so right and so true. Strange how things work out that way! Lovely dessert…my tongue is imagining it as the love child of cherry ripe and peanut butter.

  7. Lorraine E said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 10:34 pm

    Hope the PT request goes through, it always good to find a good work/life balance.

    PS Is there a recipe? It looks very good! πŸ˜‰

  8. Aran said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 11:04 pm

    Everyone needs balance in their life Y and part time would be ideal. The fact that they might give it to you says a lot abut you because they would do anything to keep you. But I understand, I went through it too. I bet the boy is going to love this one!

  9. Piggy said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 11:44 pm

    It’s good to be take things slow for a while and get recharged. I’ve been slogging my life for 10 years after graduation and I got too stressed out that I just quit for good. I hope to work part time though, staying at home all day long can be really boring. πŸ˜‰

    I always admire your talent in producing desserts that look so complicated! Do you have to spend a lot of time in preparing them?

  10. Duncan | Syrup&Tang said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 11:47 pm

    Oh that was great, Y. Reflection is great and as a reader, it was lovely to discover more about the journey!

  11. Helen said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 12:14 am

    What a gorgeously written post. I think that too often we think back on decisions we’ve made, avenues we’ve taken and mistakes that happen, with more regret than is necessary. It takes a lot more bravery to embrace the past, and to appreciate everything it’s taught us, and to accept that where we are right now, is probably not too bad a place afterall. Thanks for reminding us πŸ™‚

    And good luck with your part-time job request!

  12. clumbsycookie said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 1:07 am

    So wonderful for you to be able to do waht you love but also having a life at the same time. Believe me I understand you, working full time in kitchens is no fun game in a long run. This way you’ll be able to enjoy it more for sure! Good luck!
    And maybe even have a bit more time to keep feeding us these wonderful desserts of yours!

  13. cathy x. said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 1:24 am

    oh wow! how did you make that peanut and banana tuile? did you use that tapioca maltdextrin stuff to make the powder? i still haven’t ordered any of that fancy stuff yet. i don’t know how long i can keep supporting this addiction. it’s really expensive πŸ™

  14. mallory elise said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 3:27 am

    first–beautiful photos, you could be a photographer rather than a chef any day so keep that in mind, second, you make me want to cry! ahhhh!!! im not waiting for my 32 self to look back to my 14 self, im waiting for my 32 self to look back at my 22 present self and ask what the hell am i doing! caus i dont know! i am about to start my final semester of college forever and what i do after it is going to have nothing to do with history or french! but instead–food writing baking and photography? my mom would DIE if i told her i was thinking of going to culinary school. im screwed but this is going to be the hardest four months to finish in my life–but you did it, and you came out right! thanks for sharing your story : )

  15. grace said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 7:24 am

    great post, y! i know for certain that the younger version of myself would be shocked to see what i’ve become. and may i say, i had the biggest crush on chad allen when he was on dr quinn, medicine woman and was shattered to learn that he played for the other team… πŸ™‚

  16. Cynthia said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 10:53 am

    What a lovely photo! And it sounds like you can juggle just fine. We are our own worst critics.

  17. Eva said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

    Good luck with the juggling and enjoy!
    BTW, yesterday I’ve photographed a frozen dessert as well but due to not chilling the plates (no space in my tiny freezer) it turned into puddles pretty quickly…but yours looks so perfect!

  18. cindy said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

    ah, i love this post. i have to say that i can relate to the university section…not using my degree, loving my friends that i met while obtaining it, loving my fiance i met while there, and appreciative for the experience.

    good luck with the juggling…oh, and the mousse cake, sorbet, everything is lovely.

  19. pea and pear said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

    yay, fantastic post Y.
    I only wish I could go back and tell my mum all those things. I always knew, as I floated from one degree to the next with no stable career forecast, that I would be fine. My mother on the other hand could have probably used some reassuring πŸ˜‰

    Part time sounds like a fabulous solution and they will of course take you up on it because talented chefs as yourself are few and far between. Sounds like 2009 will be a great year for you πŸ˜‰

    Look forward to hearing your adventures ….Ali

  20. Vera said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

    Y, I wish you the greatest possible luck with any of your future projects! I bet your decision is right, there are more important things in life than an exhausting full-time job.

  21. kathryn said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 6:29 pm

    I’m learning more and more to cherish the down-times. And I’m also getting better and better at doing nothing. I work hard during the week and am learning the art of not feeling guilty about lying on the couch all Sunday. And it’s a wonderful, wonderful experience.

    Gone are my days of reading several books a week, but I don’t count it too bad I can churn through one every two or three weeks.

    But you’re right – life really doesn’t quite turn out as you planned. I’m sure my 14 year old self could never have imagined how nerdy I could become. I was never super-cool, but I was definitely more fashion conscious and up on the latest trend than I am now. I think my younger self would be horrified at how un-important I think that is.

    My 14 year old self would, however, be impressed at how *in* to my job I am though. It was always the aim, I just never quite thought it would happen. I didn’t trust I’d find the thing I love and loved to do. And that work and life could blend and over-lap so much.

    Best of luck with your part-time plans. Re-balancing work and life in the life direction is rarely a choice that is regretted!

  22. Y said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

    Christie : Stephen Dorf.. that’s a pretty respectable crush, I reckon.

    FFichiban : Thanks! The fritters became mash instead. B is on a semi-health kick. Instead of Wii Fit, he’s calling it Bii Fit month.. hehe.

    Tanya : I would definitely tend towards agreeing with that observation!

    Christy : I wouldn’t mind more time to bake, but definitely don’t need more blogging time! πŸ˜› Congrats are in order, for the vdm thing. Promise you’ll keep me posted about how things go.

    Cakelaw: Yeah, but on the other hand, when the fun stuff is few and far between, you learn to appreciate them a whole lot more πŸ™‚

    Mir : Ah, if only you could’ve stayed on home soil for a little bit longer. I would have thrown that proper dinner party – not the faux one where I take everyone out to eat because I’m feeling too lazy to cook!

    Lorraine : Have to admit, I’ve been a bit lazy with posting recipes of late. Some of them are way too long – especially the last DB challenge.

    Aran : Thanks. He did. πŸ™‚

    Piggy : I don’t think I could ever quit for good. I never want to stop learning πŸ™‚ No, I like to think these desserts don’t take up too much of my free time. Usually, I use bits and pieces that I already have around the kitchen, or things leftover from a previous dessert.

    Helen : I try not to dwell in the past too much, because I’m always reminded of the silly or bad mistakes I made, and it just eats at me. Forward, I say, forward! πŸ˜€

    Cathy : That tuille is an adaptation of a recipe from Keller’s sous vide book. Do you have it? The powder uses malto, yes. I only used it because I got a free sample awhile back. Would never buy such things for home use otherwise.

    Mallory Elise : B says he didn’t cry, but felt a bit “weepy” when he read it ..hehe. I started my apprenticeship completely against my parents’ wishes. To this day, I don’t think my dad is entirely convinced. But I know I made the right choice.

    Grace: THANK YOU! I thought I was the only one who fancied Chad! Of course, now I look back and wonder what I was thinking!

    Eva: Actually, I’m a bit disappointed with my pictures. I took them quite late in the day, so I was racing against the rapidly diminishing light, as well as the melting sorbet.

    Cindy : Thank you πŸ™‚ Glad there are others out there who have shared my experiences.

    Ali : Here’s hoping!

    Kathryn : My working week is pretty hard, but I still haven’t quite learned how to do nothing yet. Hence the blog, and the little desserts that pop up on it every now and then. I definitely pick my books more carefully now though. Trust in myself, always happens in retrospect, I think.

  23. linda said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

    I hope the powers above will grant you the part-time thing. Will be easier on the juggling.
    Love your dessert, very pretty looking and a delicious and sort of unusual combination.

  24. CourtJ said,

    January 10, 2009 @ 2:34 am

    Your dessert is a work of art! Enjoy the Time Traveller’s Wife, it is one of my favorite books of all time. Also, I am about the same age as you, loved Chad Allen, met him at a “celebrity golf tournament when I was about 13 and was devastated to see he had acne, and wouldn’t sing an autograph for me. That Chad Allen!

  25. Shari said,

    January 10, 2009 @ 4:42 am

    It sounds like you’re going to be able to balance life and work by going part-time. Juggling is overrated! I love this post. It’s very thoughtful. I loved The Unbearable Lightness of Being too. Just read this quote this week: “”You know how one morning you wake up as an adult and you realize your entire life is based on a decision you made as a teenager?” –from the Broadway play “Passing Strange”. Sounds like you’ve made some good decisions along the way. All the best in 2009!!

  26. Jamie said,

    January 10, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

    Sitting in a cozy home eating chocolate mousse cake with the man you love (who loves you) makes everything ok! That is all that matters in the end. I think that I will do the same!

  27. JacqueOH said,

    January 10, 2009 @ 6:15 pm

    It sounds like you’re happy… yes? I guess that’s what really matters.

    Your dessert looks lovely. The components all sound delish on their own, I can only imagine what a plateful together would be like.

    And peanut butter powder… sounds so interesting.

  28. Scott at Realepicurean said,

    January 12, 2009 @ 4:35 am

    The frozen chocolate thingy looks fantastic; the peanut powder I’m sure is a great touch!

  29. Marysol said,

    January 12, 2009 @ 7:53 am

    Eventually, everything will fall into place for you. In the meantime, I hope you and your best friend will continue to enjoy many more chocolate mousse cakes.

  30. Sophie said,

    January 12, 2009 @ 8:49 am

    First, I don’t think it would be an understatement to say that I am always in awe of your desserts. The textures, colors, and flavors in this one are awesome!

    Second… Seriously, sometimes I wonder if we’re twins separated at birth! (I have that same song on my playlist, btw.) Except, you got the fantastic pastry skills ;). I’m finding myself in the same situation you’re in; time flies by a whole lot faster the older we get :(! I was just telling the hubby that sometimes I get disappointed that I can’t make a fabulous meal every day, then have time to make a dessert, draw, paint, read, blog more often, and juggle a full-time job! Sheesh, even sleep seems like a waste of precious time–then again, when would we rest if it wasn’t for sleep?! πŸ˜›

  31. arfi said,

    January 12, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

    the plating is once again marvelous, Y! love it. i have one loaf of chocolate cake-pudding in the fridge, just made today. and the recipe says that i have to leave it overnight. i was convinced that i could do it, but then looking at this… oh noooooooo!!! i am tempted!

  32. Tartelette said,

    January 12, 2009 @ 7:15 pm

    Well, the pupps have enjoyed having more of me at home that’s for sure. As for my B., I seem to see him less now than ever…weird!
    Hope you get a breather soon! Ah the joy of reading a complete book and not flipping through a magazine!

  33. the caked crusader said,

    January 12, 2009 @ 8:13 pm

    ooh – that sour cherry sorbet has my full attention!

  34. cathy x. said,

    January 12, 2009 @ 11:48 pm

    sheeeeesh you sure have a taste for fancy books πŸ˜› i bought the A16 cookbook and a new camera last week. i’m going to keep telling myself that i’m broke for the next few months so i can get my savings back on track.

  35. Mandy said,

    January 14, 2009 @ 4:54 am

    I have read the time traveller’s wife. I think you will like that book. Speaking of not doing anything relevant with the uni degree, I must confess I am one of them. Good luck with multi tasking. πŸ™‚

  36. sugar chef said,

    January 14, 2009 @ 6:48 am

    This post of yours came at a good time for me. I was just crying to my hubby this morning, how I feel like my life is so out of balance. Working 14 hours a day, six days a week and not having time for a life is so hard and I question why. It’s good to know I’m not the only one. Haven’t figured out how to balance what I love to do with other things I want to do.
    Good luck on your part time endeavor.

  37. Jude said,

    January 14, 2009 @ 4:58 pm

    Such an enjoyable read πŸ™‚ Thanks.

  38. Navita said,

    January 14, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

    long time no see so stopped by to say hi…
    but ended up feeling so very nostalgic…

  39. cakebrain said,

    January 15, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

    The only reason why I can comment on people’s blogs and post anything at all is because I began to work part-time since having kids. I probably wouldn’t have much time for the things I enjoy if I worked full-time…which kind of defeats the point of working if you ask me. I wish you the best in your endeavour to make your life more balanced and healthy!

  40. Marc @ NoRecipes said,

    January 17, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

    Time Traveller’s Wife was the last good book I read and that was ages ago. Great letter to your 14 y/o self. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the years it’s that nothing turns out exactly the way you’d planned, but a lot of times it turns out better:-)

  41. brilynn said,

    January 18, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

    If you figure out how to juggle, let me know… There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

    -The dessert look wonderful by the way.

  42. Lee said,

    January 20, 2009 @ 12:41 am

    Nothing intelligent to add. Just a really lovely post. Thank you.

  43. cathy x. said,

    January 22, 2009 @ 11:53 am

    ps. i hope you’ve bought your kitchenaid already. prices seem to have jumped another $100 πŸ™

  44. Shreya said,

    January 22, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

    so elegant and beautiful…

  45. Carolyn Jung said,

    January 23, 2009 @ 4:01 am

    In today’s world, where technology allows us (or forces us) to be connected 24-7, there’s no getting away from juggling. And every day, it seems there are more balls in the air, and we hold our breath, hoping they don’t all crash to earth.

    I always find that just taking a deep breath does wonders. It makes you realize you just do what you do, as best as you can. That, and as you so rightly show, a little bit of chocolate also goes a long way in relieving any worries.

  46. Lael said,

    January 28, 2009 @ 3:07 am

    Life never turns out how we expect, does it? And, often, that’s a good thing because we discover that our scope was too narrow. However, I think we adults all need to work on maintaining those activities from childhood like reading stacks of books for fun…even if the occasions are much fewer and far between.

  47. Y said,

    January 28, 2009 @ 1:57 pm

    The juggling, or attempt-at, still continues, folks. Thank you for the encouraging words πŸ™‚

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