My views didn't always synchronize with my extremely educated family's belief of life success:
- marrying a nice Russian lawyer,
- being a 'manager',
- owning a home, and
- bearing heirs-ASAP
'Mariya's cooking tonight', she'd tell her co-workers; they all knew a token feast awaited. I'd have my shopping list ready days in advance; I'd browse the plethora of store circulars [between meetings and during phone calls] to get the best deals; I'd even leave work extra early to avoid the 'after5' grocery-store-herd. Naturally, all this eating couldn't exist without a workout-which I conveniently crammed in before the festivities.
By the time my roommate arrived, the apartment was filled with a blend of aromas-from cheesy sauteed vegetables, toasted pizza-like breads, and stuffed mushrooms, to panko crusted salmon, sauteed shrimp, and luscious fillets. The spread was always a surprise of new variations and ingredients...however one constant remained: a dark, bitter-sweet, very happy, chocolate ending. It typically consisted of melted chocolate being poured on, dipped into, or otherwise consumed with any and everything available in the house (to include: nuts, pretzels, cookies, crackers, fruit, bread, cake, crepes, peanut butter, utensils, etc., etc., etc.). Typically, the next day was reserved for recovery after which the cycle continued...[between meetings and during phone calls].
After the 'office-woman' facade of 3 years, I decided to take some time off, travel, and search for my passion (which was very difficult for my family to grasp-as it was so 'insensible' of their accomplished daughter). Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and various countries in Europe were stops of choice-each offering their own amazing spread. I anticipated every next meal and impatiently waited for my body to digest and become hungry once more, so I could experience the overabundance of feed. Upon my return, the 'office-woman' in me decided that the logical thing to do was to get the same type of job...only in a food related environment. Close, but not quite. While managing a high-end catering operation I saw a lot of creative and interesting ideas (while consuming them), but was still not satisfied.
Always loving New York, and not being very satiated with the limited opportunity the city of Baltimore had to offer (where I grew up from the age of 10, after moving from my birthplace of Kiev, Ukraine), I finally got the courage to make the move. Needless to say, when I announced my plans, my rational parents, strict chef/boss, and hungry roommate weren't too thrilled. Nevertheless, I stuck to my decision and went for it.
For a while, in the big [delicious] apple, I played around and did various odd jobs (fashion assistant, office manager, model, movie extra, etc.); all the while maintaining my culinary passion by carousing NY's markets, hosting dinner parties, and even attending the Rachel Ray show!
As my savings account began to resemble the frozen turkey case at the market on Thanksgiving day, and I considered my options for 'what I want to be when I grow up', food was always on the forefront of my mind (and in my mouth). With a hard nudge (err...bulldoze) from a friend, I did my research of various culinary schools and set forth on my culinary arts degree. Can one really make a career out of cooking? Weren't we fighting for women's rights [to get out of the kitchen]? Shouldn't I want a corner office? All valid questions [mom]-but...not so much! I want to cook! At this point I'm ~4 months into culinary studies and:
- instead of-marrying a nice Russian lawyer-live with my 1/2 Egyptian boyfriend,
- instead of-being a 'manager'-work 3 jobs (event planner, cook, and gym girl),
- instead of-owning a home-rent an apartment in Brooklyn, and
- ...do I even have to say?