apples and words.

Food, poem

I once wrote a poem about pots and pans,

and how they lined my wall.

I spoke about their scorched bottoms. (Some more than others.)

How they fed my marriage;

deep dark sauces, sometimes too salty — too little — not enough,

and I would wipe my sweaty forehead.

Now those pots and pans are on shelves.

Organized and wobbly. Still scorched. Familiar.

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I also remember carrying a half pig a half mile.

It was for a friend, and it was for her birthday.

I filled their kitchen with smoke from too much

butter in biscuits.

We laughed, and drank more wine.

Proud of my pots and pans.

oh,

It was a beautiful roast!

for the solstice,

for my friend.

I was half paid in apples and words,

but I was in love with this thing,

and the truth is —

I really love apples and words.

pressure

Food

Man, do I feel it.

I’m sure this comes with the gig of getting older and making bigger decisions. Small moves that put you on bigger trajectories.

But I am telling a story that everyone knows. It’s hard getting more responsibility. The weight, mixed with expectations and unpredictable reality.

You are truly not in control.

This doesn’t mean you can’t find balance. This is where I’m at. In my world, as a cook, it is all about balance.

Not just with food, but with people. It is give and take. Some days, as in this past week, it is a lot of take. Taking what people want and what they give you, instead of what we have. We absorb their needs because it’s our jobs, but I am a stubborn sunuva-gun — and I tell everyone that.

My job isn’t only to cook — but trying my best to control the endless variables of a restaurant. Those of you who’ve worked in restaurants know how big of a machine it really is. And until you know the pressure of being at the top of this machine, there is no adequate way to describe its motion.

I am at a crossroads of trying to figure out what is more important — keeping a restaurant busy or pushing the ball forward. When chefs get itchy to create, they are forced to make that decision on whether or not to change something people love and buy, for the sake of their own pride.

Perhaps I won’t have to choose on this one. Do you give people what they want and expect? Or do you nudge them, bit by bit?

We are a sandwich shop. We’re not doing anything new or innovative. But we try to do them well and it shows, I think. I work hard at keeping my finger down on the kind of quality we can deliver. Then, I go home and watch videos of Daniel Bolud or David Chang or Francis Mallmann and get all panicky that I am not where I should be. In fact, I know that.

So I push forward. I push myself in effort to push others. Being in the state of Mississippi, my boundaries seem endless. It is not a food city, but there are people here who love to eat and love to be challenged.

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Deep in my belly is a fire to move forward, always. With food or emotions or with people — that is what I wake up to do. Be better. Move forward. And to humbly and most likely stubbornly accept the fact that I am so obscenely tiny in this world that it isn’t quite about me.

I want more. Always, from myself and often others. But I cannot control anyone or make them believe something they aren’t interested in. I refuse to have that sort of power — but I think I can show them how it makes me feel and how important it is to me, and I can move with that.

I am far away from being a great chef. I am a pretty good cook who is lucky and learned from watching some really hard working people. I move with that in hopes that I can make even the slightest dent into what I want to accomplish here.

Even if that means one grilled cheese at a time.

First Course: Panic Attack! (Or “How I Wrote My First Menu”)

Food, Hospitality Industry

I told myself taking a walk would clear my head a little.

Instead I walked past a few local spots filled to the brim with people eating and drinking and I got overwhelmed.

I hurried home. The blood rushing to my face. I told myself to chill out. To not pass out on a random cross street with some dude asking me if I was okay — that maybe I was overreacting. I was a little high strung and all I could think about was getting back to my apartment and shoving something chocolatey and sweet in my mouth. I thought maybe this was a panic attack. Though it came so suddenly.

I know all I wanted to do was eat some chocolate. And I did. Typical coping mechanism, I imagine.

I took some deep breaths. I told myself I could do it.

It's cool yo. Just relax.

It’s cool yo. Just relax.

And that was that. I laid down on a pile of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrappers and fell asleep.

Onward to the bigger news:

Dinner service starts this week!

Bah!

It’ll be my first week in charge of a kitchen. Which, to me, is a BIG deal. To people already heels deep in the industry, you know I am over reacting. This, I know too well. I know how things work. I know the good and the bad all too well.

I’m not so much afraid of failing as I am succeeding. Failing is sort of easy, right? It’s when things catch on and get busier and busier. I think that was what got me. The idea of getting in over my head.

But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Food feels different when you’re not feeding close family and friends. It becomes somewhat of a commodity. People pay for it and expect to get their money’s worth. That becomes a little scary to me. Especially for a dude who doesn’t have much. Making sure people are fed and taken care of — that is what’s most important to me.

I wrote out a rough draft menu while working a party a few days ago and felt really good about it. Sort of a “look how far you’ve gotten with what you’ve learned” kind of thing. A lot of folks who go to culinary school don’t get this opportunity. I consider myself lucky to know the right people at the right time, and to work hard for these people. (And to give them whiskey, from time to time.)

I was proud of that menu. Damn proud. It’s nothing special. But it’s food, and I think it tastes good. Which is really important, by the way. The menu showcases the cook. The person in charge. The things he/she wants to show you, the patron. A menu can be personal. It’s a story. It’s a thought applied to an ingredient involving technique, timing and seasoning. A lot of hard work goes into cooking that food. Sort of like that time you had to give a presentation at work, only you then realized that you have to give it five days a week and hope to be consistent and better every time.

I got that nervous twinge in my belly. But a good one. And that’s when I knew I’d be okay. I felt proud about being a cook. I felt empowered and strong and confident.

So yes, there is a lot to be overwhelmed about. That’s okay, ya know? What good things aren’t sometimes scary at first?

This is the part where I say thanks for following this messy journey, and those who will continue to follow me into the kitchen. And while I make this seem more dramatic than it needs to be, it’s big to me and that matters. Deeply.

So thank you for all the kind and supportive words.

And if you’re in the Portland area. Hit me up.

I’d love to feed you.

Hospitality Don’t Come Easy

Food

I get a lot of joy out of feeding my friends.

In a similar way my mom loves taking care of her kids and how she’s so very intuitive to peoples’ needs.

On the occasion that I get to plan a small to medium sized intimate meal, I get a little pumped up. Because I’m not gonna lie, it’s fun to impress people. I get the rush of stretching a culinary muscle all the while saying, “Yeah, I used a whole bottle of wine to make this…”

It sounds silly. And it is.

But a lot of it is intuition. The hospitable bones in my body come from my family, no doubt.

Just know, there is hope if you feel overwhelmed having folks over. A lot of times, it can be — but it doesn’t have to. Especially if you like the people who are coming over. If not, do what I do and hide in the kitchen. (Because there’s always junk to do in the kitchen, am I right?)

I like to be helpful, so let’s talk about some things that have helped me.

First off, you gotta know if folks can eat what you’re planning to cook. If someone is vegan, you’ll probably have to go out and buy a whole new set of groceries (if you aren’t regularly eating vegan). When in doubt, use a lot of olive oil and bread. That’ll get them happy, only for a little while though. “Josh, be sweet…” Okay, okay.

But seriously. Cook accordingly. Nobody puts baby-vegan in the corner.

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Beverages.
This also asks of you to pair accordingly to the food you’re cooking. If a dish used an entire bottle of red wine to make, it’ll probably pair well with red wine. If it’s spicy, you may want to focus on less intimidating beverages. Maybe good, light beer, or something with citrus and alcohol.

Always offer water. Especially when alcohol is present. Some folks need to switch gears sooner than others.

Watch their glasses. If they’re empty, make cozy eye-contact and fill em’ up with chosen/offered beverage. Keep cups full until you see the night winding down.

If you’re making something sweet, a lot of folks enjoy a sip of good coffee or hot tea. (or more alcohol) Decaf is probably good, but let’s not get too crazy!

Have a clean kitchen.

This is a lot of work. To cook, host and keep it clean. But it helps, especially as your guests leave. If you don’t want to do their dishes after they leave, at least rinse them well, and stack them neatly so there not so intimidating the morning after. Trust me, it helps.

Mise en place.
This is a big restaurant kitchen thing. It means “putting everything in its place”. It is, by far, the most important tool for cooks (besides whiskey). It translates well into the home kitchen. Basically, have all your stuff done before guests arrive.

You don’t want to be mincing garlic and entertaining at the same time. At least I don’t. Plus, that makes dinner last forever. Don’t fool yourself. If people are coming to eat at your house, they pretty much expect it to be almost done. Do not throw something on the stove that takes three hours to cook right as guests arrive. Unless it’s an all-day thing, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Having all your ingredients ready to go for quick assembly is key. It helps you keep a peaceful mind, all the while throwing down some killer food.

Stick with food you’re comfortable with cooking.

Unless they are close friends who love you regardless of how much you put reduced balsamic vinegar on everything, do as Michael Scott says and ‘Keep it Simple, Stupid.’

Keep a good flow.

It’s important to time your dishes, just as a restaurant would do. You want time for the drinks to settle in. You want people to be HUNGRY. Offer them little snacks. Not too much bread. Nuts are good. Things that are salty are good. Nothing too over-powering though.

You want your main dishes to shine. And no doubt they will when your tipsy friends are saying your roast chicken was the best they’ve ever had.

Because you put in a lot of work.

It’s not always easy to predict what others need. But the more you do it, the easier it’ll come to you.

So, call up a few buds.

Give them at least two beverages to start working on.

Keep that kitchen clean.

Have yo’ stuff ready.

Fall into the ebb and flow.

Laugh a ton.

Stress, not so much.

When you’re in the presence of dear ones, take it in.

Because that’s all that really matters.

 

 

The GAPS Diet (And Why It’s Personal)

Food

My wife is on the GAPS diet.

I know. Boooooooring.

Just kiddin’.

It’s not easy. Let that be clear. Especially in a city like Portland where it is one’s civil duty to eat good food and drink beer.

The GAPS diet is an anti-inflammatory gut-healing diet. It’s usually meant to help people who have intestinal damage, stomach issues and allergies. Its list of benefits are unmatched with any other diet.

The foods you can eat are pretty limited. Especially at first. Mostly home made bone broth and/or veggies and meat cooked in bone broth. Then you can start adding other real foods in slowly. Eggs. Avocado. Almond butter. Coconut oil. Eventually working your way up to eating the basic Paleo diet. Or “normal Gaps” or whatever people want it to be called.

But for Hannah, it’s more about the allergies. A restoration of the body.

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Eating bone broth for lunch and dinner every day isn’t easy, even for the hard core soup lovers out there.

The thing is, I’m not on the diet with her. At first, I had my fist in the air shouting “Solidarity!”, but as soon as I woke up to the smell of chicken stock, I was suddenly aware that unless I had to, I couldn’t swing it this time.

It’s not easy if your out and about all the time. Some people take off a week to start the diet. It drains you. It makes you crave all the crap that made you sick in the first place. You have to cook at home consistently. It makes your irritable. For those of us who take a great joy in eating with one another, the journey can be a testament to one’s relationship.

And I know I’m making this sound dramatic. I should explain.

I don’t think I would have gotten as deep into cooking if I wasn’t living with another person who also enjoyed good food. Cooking for Hannah has opened up everything for me. It has given me the space to create and nourish.

It’s given me an imagination and fulfills my need to be hospitable.

I love being able to feed her.

So when all I can do is a put a big pot on the stove, throw in a chicken and some veggies and let it go — it’s just slightly unsatisfying. Especially when I’m eating a killer pork chop and she’s eating a cooked to death chicken leg in a bowl of murky broth. Mmmm.

But it’s important to me that she feel better. Hands down. All this goopey love stuff draws out some really interesting things.

Food eaten and shared with others tastes better. I know I can make a pork chop taste great, but that’s not enough for me. I want others to share in that. I want to wash their dishes and see where they ate up everything.

It’s interesting when you share meals with the same people every day. It’s that ritual of the communal table. Whether that table be the couch watching The Walking Dead or an actual table, with flowers and stuff.

I’m so, so proud of her.

How she turns down the opportunity to cheat and how she hasn’t had coffee in weeks. These are hard, hard things. It takes a strong will and deep ferocious belly to keep going.

I’m doing what I can, but can only go so long without cooking bacon and cornbread. Both of which I cooked on the same day. Both of which happen to be the best smells coming from a kitchen.

I know.

I’m terrible.

But I have to stay on my toes. I can’t go gettin’ all soggy on broth.

Because this diet is personal. Right down to the murky brown where all that goodness resides.

Healing. Restoration. Balance. Control.

I’ll take that over a pork chop any day.

 

finding your voice (when you already have it)

Food

Whether it’s your writing, your art, or your food; there is something powerful about someone discovering their voice.

Yes.

Voice.

It’s been on my mind a lot these days.
And you know what it’s like to see other people who have found theirs. It’s what makes them drive their point deep into your belly. And voices, like people, come in all different shapes.

One of the hardest things about writing is voice. In any form of art or creative thinking — finding your voice is usually the most frustrating. We tend to emulate others we respect and in doing so, sound a lot like them. But people have already heard them before.

You want people to hear you. You want people to understand. Getting that across to those not in your head is hard.

And this is something I’ve been talking to people about lately.
I’m not really for those kind of blogs that give you step by step solutions to things, which is why I don’t really post many recipes. I’m not that skilled of a cook or a writer or a person, so I don’t want you to see me that way.

But there are some things that have helped me in discovering a voice for myself.

Regardless of what you do, do it a lot. 
If you want to sing, sing a lot.
If you want to write, write a lot.

If you want to cook,
I think you get it.

mannequin1

I think it’s important to copy things you like, but only for a little while. Start adapting things to how you work. If you like Stephen King as a writer, you’ll probably find yourself writing short stories in the same tone. (None the less, terrifying and brilliant.)

It goes the same with cooking as we copy recipes out of a book and with time, add more of this and more of that. (Or less!)

Use your intuition.

In all of these things, you are creating your voice.

And people will see that. People are already seeing that in you. Especially when that voice becomes confident and fierce.

You will be unstoppable. (Within the means of law, unfortunately.)

Have fun with it.

You probably aren’t pursuing meaningless work. Maybe you are for the sake of a good salary and benefits. No one is to blame you for that. But it’s important to also do something you love. My Paw-Paw has this saying (which I’m sure he got out of Reader’s Digest) that if you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.

But that’s also not really true. Because work is work. It will suck sometimes. But when you are in pursuit of your voice, it’s refreshing. It drives you to be better. It helps the fact that you stand on your feet for over 10 hours a day. Or ball up paper and start over again and again.

You will mess up and struggle with it. Don’t expect it to be perfect.

But at some point, we all have to move. And to do that with intention and drive is what makes our voice louder than others.

Even for us quiet people, our voices can be loud.

It’s also not something we necessarily have to create, but something that, for lack of more profound words, defines who we are.

We are moms and dad and grandparents. Your voice is who you are as a teacher, how you treat and teach your kids. How you work and what you put into it.

It’s how much you want to learn and what you want to do with that knowledge. And like I said before, it’s about moving forward with that knowledge. It’s about what you give back.

Don’t think of it as something that is far off — you’ve always had a voice, and you always will.

You don’t have to go far to find it.

Just pull out a sheet of paper.

A pen.

A pan.

An instrument.

An onion.

 

…And make it yours.

You Have to Start Somewhere

Food

To those who have been following my blog since day one, you probably know me as a lot of things.

Ambitious, but not ready.

Quiet, but not afraid to say things I think should be said. (For my sake, that is.)

Silly, but understanding that my humor is unique, just like everyone else.

A cook, but a home cook. (Because there is a big difference.)

There are also the elements of food of which I’ve discovered since starting to write about the subject and how it relates to my life. But we all have our own relation to food. Some of us use it as a means of making a living, and others consume strictly for sustenance.

There were the times where I wanted to start a food cart, but quickly realized that I wasn’t ready.

And I really wasn’t.

It helped me determine that a food cart wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I love the element of a table. Of glasses and forks and knives. (And the spirits that fill those glasses.)

But I was nowhere close to opening a place nor was I ready for that either. I lacked the experience, money and the thousands of other things that go into opening a joint.

Then a few things started to open up. I used my coffee and manager experience to break into the cooking world a bit. Mostly chopping onions and building giant sandwiches and learning how to cook in a wood-fired oven. (And the unforgiving summer time rush that leaves you shell-shocked.)

I cleaned the floors and dealt with bipolar cooks who would walk on and off the line.

I broke down, and built myself back up.

I realized that cooking looks like a lot of things. It didn’t have to challenge who I was as  a human, though it easily can.

cheesy dude!

cheesy dude!

As many of you know, I worked at Woodlawn Coffee & Pastry for about a year and a half. I consider Gretchen (the pastry chef/owner) a great mentor and friend. She’s the boss of all bosses in my book. The person who drilled into my head what it means to finish strong and the importance of reminding employees to wash their hands.

When we had our most recent Mardi Gras in her cafe space, there was a moment where something happened. A few days later, she sent me a text saying, “We should talk about your future.”

Needless to say, I was hoping for this.

We met over a few beers and caught up.

She offered me the job of starting dinner service at the shop.

I know, I know, I know.

Who gets these opportunities??

Not many.

So, in these next few months, I will be transitioning back into the role of cook/whatever the hell I need to be.

There are the moments of feeling greatly overwhelmed. Because it is hard work. It’s not easy and it will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

But I welcome the challenge. I love dreaming. I love that sense of good, nervous energy and the feeling that you worked hard and did your work well. But it is a learning experience, and with that comes good and bad. You have to be open to it all.

I laid in bed this morning, denying the inevitable. My car won’t start again and there’s a lot that needs to be done.

But you have to get up and put your feet on the ground.

You stretch your bones and settle back in to yourself realizing,

we all have to start somewhere.

make a better soup; be a better person

Food

I tell people I have soup anxiety.

I may have touched on this before. It is ridiculous. You don’t have to tell me that.

It’s mostly the lack of substance. The brothy-ness and the fear of being hungry while our dinner companions talk for three more hours about their 8th grade tirades and how ‘nerdy’ we all used to be. (Trust me, if you’re playing soccer in 8th grade, you’re probably NOT a nerd — or at least in my view of the word.)

But I really like soup! I do, I do. I promise. It’s just not the first thing that comes to mind when I think, “Oh, dinner…”

Understanding soup basics was huge in my learning how to cook better. Usually in culinary school they start you at stocks, soups and sauces. Since I haven’t attended culinary school, nor will I ever, I did like most self-taught cooks do — I jumped in it.

I mean I got all up in that sauce talk.

I learned about stock and bones and fat.

I’m not gonna talk like I’m some pro at making soups. But I’ve made some good soups, just like you folks. (Or who at least claim to make the best chicken soup.) I’ve also talked about making different stocks as well. If you’re interested, just hit up that search engine. The world is full of people who can tell you how to make soup. I’m not different. I just thought I could bring a little humor to the conversation.

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First of all, eat roast chickens. Why? For the bones!
Wrap them up tight, and stick em’ in your freezer. Collect about 4-5 carcasses before you want to make a big batch. Your ratio of bones to veggies is so much more than you probably think. Probably equal to the amount of all the veggies, you should have bones, plus more. If they are raw carcasses (sometimes you can buy them like that), roast them in the oven till nice and brown, and then cover them with COLD water. Add your carrots, onions and celery. Maybe a few peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme and garlic. Oh yes, garlic. So good for you and your brothy-obsessed bodily functions.

Do the same with beef bones, if you have em’. But you probably don’t.

If you really want to impress someone with a killer chicken soup, make a double stock. This is when you use an already existing chicken flavored broth and add more bones to it. I mean, decadence.

Huge flavor. That’s what you really want, right? For example, if you’re making a chicken soup, boil your raw chicken in some water. After your chicken is done, throw in your bones and vegetables and crank down on that stock. And then, strain all that stuff out and continue to reduce your liquid. It’ll keep getting better, and better.

This will elevate your soup to another level. And at the risk of sounding even a little close to Guy Fieri, I’m gonna back off. Because that dude is an introverts nightmare.

I love soup that has something extra in it. Meaning, things besides vegetables. For chicken soup, we generally add rice or else ten minutes later, I’m eyeing that bag of Pirate’s Booty white cheddar corn puffs that sit not so far away from my subconscious and comfy brown chair.

Add lentils! Add beans! Add greens! Throw some chopped up kale in there during the last 15 minutes or so of cooking.

Add proper salt. Every time you make bland soup, some one else decides to make a Harlem Shake video. And we don’t want any more.

If your soup turns out to be too rich, add a few dashes of vinegar — either sherry or red wine or something of the like. I usually always add a hit or two of some kind of vinegar. Adds nice balance. And folks, it’s all about balance.

Then there are the flavor and umami boosting agents. Tomato paste, fish and/or mushroom sauce, and worcestershire. At least those are the most common you might have back behind your Sriracha sauce that you might, but shouldn’t, put on everything.

But hey, who am I to judge you and your need to make everything taste spicy.

So there.

Just a few options.

Maybe it was helpful. I know it’s helped me.

And remember: soup du jour

it’s the soup of the day

the sweet spots.

Food

Today, I’d like to talk about good things. (and sweet spots.)

Or at least good things to me. I’m a news junkie, so I’m always on the verge of melting down into a pool of sadness. But don’t let that dramatic picture set in just yet.

My life is also filled with goodness and it’s these days that I find myself becoming keenly aware of contentment and what I feel deep down to be good.

First of all, happiness is vague. It’s a spectrum of thousands of variables. I don’t believe I can ever say I’m truly happy. I mean, there are times when things seem perfect, but it’s always fleeting when the dark recesses of my mind catch up. And no one is as hard on me as I am. I am fully aware of my surroundings. But when the goodness is flowing, I try to soak it up like bread and sauce. Savoring and wishing for just one more bite. 

– – –

I like that first conscious breath of air after you wake up in the morning. That deep, satisfying inhale to know that you’re alive again and did not drift off into the night. You smell of sleep and listen to your bones crack. There’s a great comfort in that.

I love watching Travel shows. I guess as far as being a home-body, I love to get out of my surroundings if not physically, then most definitely visually. I love to see how cheese is made and am obsessed with food cultures around the world. I love watching it work.

I like doing that with a not too hot cup of coffee that’s sweet, not from sugar, but by great roasters and a somewhat tedious brewing method. But it makes all the difference to me.

Slow mornings are a gift, do not take them for granted. Being an industry person, I often get them. They help to center my day. I eat my eggs and sip my coffee and take it all as ritual.

I love spending time in my kitchen after a long, messy day. I know that a spoonful of butter and flour mixed with stock or milk makes a sauce or gravy. I know it’ll thicken and coat whatever it is I want to cover with goodness.

When the cold starts to take you, and the heater kicks on.

Whiskey. Ice cube. Orange peel. Repeat. (Responsibly, of course.)

When a song comes on that hits you in your gut. That makes you feel like life is good and right. Even if it is for 3-4 minutes.

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My buddy Kyle and I talk about eating food and watching a 20 minute TV show. There’s something comforting about a plate of food and something entertaining. I think it’s about stimulation and fixation. Both oral and visual.

There’s also something about sitting at a table with plates and glasses. Family style dining or by means of course. To risk the over-stated phrase “as conversation flows with the wine”, it’s sort of true. Good drink helps.

Good drink is best when that buzz hits right before you eat. When it takes the edge off and the warm and fuzzies come to settle in, if only until the food soaks it all up.

I love that moment from table to couch or chair. When the conversation needs to be moved to another room or another seat. Tea is put on and something sweet arrives at its side.

Shortbread and PG Tips with a dash of milk. Yes, that’s goodness.

Black coffee and pecan pie.

Feeling close and connected to the people you love and spend your life with.

Self-realization is good. The balance of understanding that the world isn’t revolving around you, nor is it healthy to exist without realizing you left your mark, somehow. Hopefully for the better.

Making a good name for yourself.

Feeling tired at the end of the day and having someone scratch your back and to feel thankful.

What is goodness to you?

(the perks of being) a kitchen wallflower.

Food

Where do I go from here?

This question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately, especially when there’s not much clarity in these times of transition.

Mardi Gras was wonderful. A room full of people gettin’ happy and full. It really doesn’t get much better than that. Though I usually only have about a good 30-45 minutes of being with people when not having to either cook or clean. But that’s okay. I love watching, more than anything. I love being able to hop around and check in, and then head back to cook more. Or clean my station. Or just take a sip of good whiskey and soak it all in.

These things help hone in on what I want to do. Each year I say to myself that I probably won’t go through it again and each year I get way too jacked up not to.

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The thing is, these parties have shifted through the years. I wrote a bit about it last week, but I learn more from each dinner. I learn about the work and the passion. The idea that some things just don’t make sense. That’s the way it goes, though. I also can’t picture myself sitting in a classroom again, but some people love it. That’s quite alright, ya know?

More so, I have friends and family that root for me. That want to see me succeed in the things I’m passionate about.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

I see things and understand. There are people I love to impress and others I know who won’t get it. And that’s also okay. I never feel pressured either way. I guess this is the part where I feel most independent. When a ‘big deal’ walks in the door, I like to remain myself and hold fast to that. I feel like it’s gotten me to where I am today and I’m proud of that.

I’m stoked that I get to hold my head up and serve people and know that I put in a lot of time. We all have our gifts — and maybe I’m starting to learn what mine is.

I’m the wallflower in a kitchen.

Facilitating.

Adding salt.

Tasting.

Telling people, “It’s all about the mayonnaise…”

Scrubbing.

Turning off the lights.

And I’ll do it over and over again.