I’ve always loved visiting restaurants, reading about chefs, and food in general, but I never really realized how much my life would change if I married a chef. Now I know: Being a chef’s wife (or as some people say, a “chef’s widow”) isn’t exactly how I thought it would be. Here are 10 things I’ve learned:
They rarely cook for you at home.
Everyone always assumes that I have a magnificent home-cooked meal waiting for me all the time, but that is far from the truth. Why? Because a restaurant kitchen is usually a million times more fun to cook and experiment in. It often has high end gadgetry that you probably do not have (or can fit) in your home kitchen. If you rent in New York City, then you might understand the rarity of a full sized stove and oven.
But you really do eat like a king or queen.
Chefs are passionate about their art and they’re very serious about it. They show their emotions through food and they often use food to romance you. You’re in for a spectacular surprise once you dine in your significant other’s restaurant or meet them for lunch. They might just surprise you with a gourmet picnic meal.
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Date nights are not on the weekends.
I’ve come to accept the fact that I’ll have to go out to a lot of events and gatherings by myself. Weekends — aka when many social events happen — are the busiest days in the restaurant industry. But the great thing about weird chef schedules is that they often get Sundays or Mondays off — the perfect day to go to a new restaurant or cocktail lounge that’s normally hard to get into.
Every moment counts (maybe a little bit more).
It’s so tough when they’re working nights and you’re working days that it can be difficult to find overlapping free-time you can spend together. I savor every little trip and outing with my husband — even grocery shopping. There was a period when we rarely saw each other, so much so that I would skip birthday parties and appointments to be with him. It’s difficult for some people to understand, but we’ve learned to make it work. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” sure sounds cheesy, but a chef’s wife knows it is probably true.
You get to experience an amazing variety of restaurants.
I’ve been to tiny under-the-radar restaurants because my husband loves discovering new restaurants and trying new foods he hears about in the chef circuit. I would have never bothered to visit these eclectic mix of restaurants otherwise.
You’re going to learn so many crazy food words by accident.
You’ll be spouting off words like “mignardises,” “transglutaminase,” and “thermal immersion circulator” before you can say Vol-au-Vent. You’ll hear chefs talk about cooking techniques or their newest experiments all the time like geeky teenage boys. Eventually, you’ll pick up the words and actually understand what they’re saying. If you asked me what these words meant before I met my husband, I would’ve given you a blank stare and assumed you were trying to explain a weird science fiction novel, but now I’m pretty much a food geek, too.
You become insanely sensitive to the dining experience.
And you’ll garner sympathy for front-of-the-house staff and the kitchen staff. (Especially if you’re eating at your significant other’s restaurant.) Improper dining etiquette will annoy the hell out of you, like rude behavior (people who invite themselves to sit down when they don’t have a reservation) and crappy tipping (for the record, servers should be tipped 20%). Grr! I’m annoyed just thinking about these things. Let’s move on.
Related: 5 Easy Ways To Impress A Foodie
People will ask you for restaurant recommendations and cooking tips.
Or they ask you to ask him. Because I’m married to a chef, I’ve suddenly become a walking cookbook/food guide. Sometimes people will ask me for recommendations for a cuisine I’m not familiar with and I’ll feel flustered or embarrassed for not knowing it (not that I’m supposed to anyways).
You’ll try foods you would normally never try.
It usually starts out with my husband saying, “Here. Try this.” You might think that I’m gullible, but I trust him even though I’ve ended up trying all sorts of weird offal dishes because of him. I’m actually glad I just dig in and try all this unique food without asking. I’ve definitely become less of a picky eater and I do love fried sweetbread now (even though I still do not want to think too much about what it is, anatomically).
Patience is key, especially when you’re married to a chef.
I’m still figuring this one out myself. Things will come up at restaurants unexpectedly. It can be anything from a group of diners who came in late, rowdy patrons at the bar, or something in the kitchen took longer to prepare than anticipated. He might not be able to get home until 3 a.m., and considering how little I see him, it can be particularly frustrating. Things happen that are beyond your control and the only thing you can really do it be patient and wait. But realistically, who wants to wait around for someone all night? Remember, though: you might go to sleep alone, but you’ll wake up next to the person you love — and it’s worth it.
Annie Wang is a New York City food photographer. She is the blogger behind Frites and Fries, where she chronicles her life and food adventures with her chef husband and their dog, Kevin Bacon.
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