Julia

I need say nothing else, right? You know who I’m talking about. Julia Child. She who taught me that (almost) anything is fixable in the kitchen, particularly if you have enough wine, and that if you’re not having a blast, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. In fact, these are two mantras that I aspire to live by for better or worse in all aspects of my life, not just cooking (specifically, the wine).

I was initially going to title this post “Old as F*ck,” but mostly decided against it because I knew my mother would read this. But know that remains the overarching theme. I am not young. Now, I am not really that old either (writing that sentence, I can see my mother rolling her eyes at me), but I am also not a fresh high school grad with the knees and endurance I once had. That’s a lie. I’ve always been a bit of an old lady with bad knees at heart, even right out of high school.

Years ago, during the Julie & Julia craze (cue collective eye roll), I read “My Life in France” a memoir written by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme about, you guessed it, Julia’s life and career, specifically her time in France. It brought back so many childhood memories of watching Julia Child (and The Galloping Gourmet), effervescent, self-effacing, but so confident, play with whole chickens and down wine, ultimately turning out amazing looking, if weird sounding dishes. So I dragged my then-boyfriend (now husband, shockingly at times) to see Julie & Julia and immediately after to a sketchy bodega to buy a dozen eggs with which we learned to poach eggs. It is only now, as I embark on this craziness and generally freak out about everything, including my physical rigor (lack thereof) and what the next 8 months are going to do to my already age-suffering back and knees, that it occurs to me what Julia Child did. She was 36 when she attended Le Cordon Bleu.  Thirty-six. And she was able to turn a passion ignited by her love of French food into a successful career. She was able to largely reinvent herself, not by changing who she was intrinsically, but using her talent, personality and ambition to alter the course of her career and her life.

Now I have literally no delusions of grandeur, and actually have no idea what lies next for me (more to come on that), but it certainly is an inspiring prospect what you can achieve with drive, passion and hard work. And if all else fails, it reminds me to suck it up and buy a knee brace.

Julia Quote

Jumping Off a Cliff

I’ve had a complicated relationship with food. That’s probably too generous – conflicted may actually be a more accurate description.

At 3 my greeting to my aunts would be a compliment of how skinny they looked. At the ripe old age of 8, I announced in my typically precocious manner, that I would no longer be wearing shirts that didn’t cover my butt, because I had fat thighs. I was 8. I went through a brief stint of not eating in my late teens. I say brief, but I think my friends and family would argue that it was not brief enough.

It was during this time of not eating that I discovered the Food Network. There was a certain sad irony of a girl who only ate brown rice, broccoli and triscuits (6 a day), voraciously consuming food-centered media. This was before the food network became the domain of the at-home cook or semi-homemade; where Mario Batali, pre-Food Network feud, focused on regionally inspired food from Italy, which he served to Isaac Mizrahi, pre-Target clothing line, and Sarah Moulton’s calming voice reigned supreme.

Food Network did not save me. Years of therapy did. But what it inspired in me was a love of cooking that I have carried with me through the galley (generous) kitchen in my 5th floor walk-up in hell’s kitchen, my fabulous kitchen with no counter space and no venting on Wall Street and now my current kitchen where I live with my new husband.

I’ve been moving up in the corporate world since I graduated college. I did not veer or rock boats. I figured out I was good at HR and recruitment and I’ve made it into my career, to some extent unintentionally. I’ve worked 60 hour work weeks and have constantly been available to my colleagues and candidates. As it turns out, life is too short. And so I decided to jump off a cliff.

I made my first culinary school payment today and I figured if I’m going to be self-indulgent, I may as well go all in, so I also wrote my first blog post. I am a very lucky person, with an amazingly supportive husband, family and friends, who have barely balked at this wild departure from my status quo. So here goes nothing.

Tales from the Frontlines of Culinary School