When I woke up in the woods after attempting to stab myself, I started to realize how much more to life there really was. The sky was cloudy and I remembered hearing the roaring thunder and a flash of lightning. I got up, and kept on running. Even though it hurt, I did not stop. I doubted myself. I got too complacent with being just a baker that when a non-dessert related cooking challenge arose, I felt helpless. My main support, my rock at that time, abandoned me. So, I made the mistake of trying to take my own life, because I felt like my existence had so little to offer. How wrong I was. I had an entire life ahead of me, left to be lived. That was senior year of high school. Seeing the clouds almost part when I woke up from that bizarre limbo, it was what inspired me to continue working hard to improve myself. I wanted everyone to know me for my love of cooking. At that point, I had 2 years of baking experience; I prided myself on being an excellent pastry cook. But I could not hold a knife. I did not have any basic skills needed to operate in a savory kitchen. So that became my goal.
When I cook savory food, I feel like a soldier in a war zone. Holding a knife in my hand, it feels like a saber, carving into the flesh of my enemies. Gruesome, yes, but accurately detailing how dark my start in regular cooking was. I needed to learn so much more. How to butcher, how to make sauces, how to cook fish and meat. I needed to prove to myself and the people who doubted me that I was the capable and talented cook I knew I could become. That warrior-like resolve and need to learn more, it allows me to continue to evolve in the kitchen. Ironically, the style of savory cooking I employ tends to be on the humble and charming side. Despite my focused and relentless approach, my dishes tend to come out like food that would be served in a bistro or a cafe. Not necessarily fine-dining.
Ironically, my experience with desserts and my approach with them is a complete contrast. I started with pastry, I loved baking because it makes other people happy. That sort of happiness is why I have been dubbed a “sweet angel” more times than once. I am much more energetic, friendly, child-like, and somehow, my desserts come out more sophisticated, elegant, and refined. I cannot really explain how that happens. It is almost paradoxical. One would think that my focused mentality would produce fine-dining, while my enthusiastic mindset would inspire the rustic comfort food. Sometimes, life enjoys working in unusual and unexpected ways.
A flash of lightning is what set me forward on this journey. I continued to Hospitality school, I worked for some of the best chefs in America, I continued to grow to the point where I was teaching cooking courses for my own college. I was able to carve my own path. Nobody could stop me from becoming the person I was meant to be. Even now, I continue to learn and grow. I want to absorb as much knowledge as I possible can when it comes to food. Continuing to learn different techniques, cuisines, ingredients. Being completely fearless. I want to know that, no matter what task I am given, I can continue to improve myself. In a world of my feather-light dreams, each accomplishment will be like a flash of lightning. It will shine brightly within the moment, and fade away. Never lingering. Never remaining for me to rest on.