I am stunned and saddened by the passing of Anthony Bourdain. We have lost a creative GIANT. He was a man who lived his passion, wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, and was curious to the end. I admired and respected him tremendously.
In 2003 I was at a crossroads, the life I wanted was never going to be a reality, so I needed to adjust my expectations. I was angry at the world, but mostly angry with myself for failing, angry at the unfairness of it all. Angry that I wasn’t in control, and no matter how much I tried, how much time, effort, sweat, blood, and tears I put in – I couldn’t make my dream a reality. It is a hard moment to face, but face it I did, with the help of Mr. Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential.
It was a dark, sexy, seedy tale – full of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. But it was also a story about a man who was aware of his flaws, a man who owned his truth. He didn’t shy away from showing you the ugly truth – he talked about resilience, about team work, about finding passion, he inspired me.
I picked myself up, dusted myself off, took a deep breath, and changed the course of my future. At 33 years old, I went to culinary school. I was the oldest person, and only woman, in my cohort. I was surrounded by 18-20 year old boys, I was the same age as most of my instructors. I found what I needed in that kitchen. I regained my confidence, I honed my skills, and found my tribe, so to speak. I thrive when I am working with people who are all focused on the same goal. In the kitchen, I had to keep up, pull my own weight. I was responsible for the food coming out of my station. It played to all of my strengths. I LOVE planning – prepping for service each night was where I found comfort. I was in control – of everything – from how I set up my station, to where things were located in my fridge and shelves. As a team, we all supported one another, respected everyone’s skills, and pitched in when necessary, because the ultimate goal was getting food out, hot, plated, picture perfect, at the exact same time. It isn’t easy, it requires communication, trust, planning, and the willingness to be fully present in the moment. If you fail, the kitchen fails, which means the servers fail, which means the restaurant failed in its service to our customers.
Working in a kitchen requires you to be a team player, without sacrificing your individuality. It requires you to exhibit grace under pressure and to pull your own weight. You need to contribute, to keep moving forward, striving for perfection, every single moment of the night. I am proud of the work I have done and all of those skills have served me well in my current position of meeting planner. I have confidence because I KNOW what I am capable of, I have been tested by fire, and I have the scars to prove it.
Thank you Mr. Bourdain – you inspired me to have the courage to try, may you rest in peace.