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How It Is Like Dating (or To Be Married To) A Chef: Expectations vs Reality

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Basically what I do every moment, but change the donut to 'all kinds of food'.

Basically what I do every moment, but change the donut to ‘all kinds of food’.

I love food.

I really do.
I almost constantly think about what to eat. At night, I plan on what to eat for tomorrow’s breakfast and lunch. After I have my lunch of course I think about what to have for dinner. Then I have to choose a snack in between, wisely so I don’t add unnecessary weight to my already chubby thighs. Then comes dinner and I’m back to think what’s for breakfast. And it goes on and on and on, a never-ending food obsession.

So when one day fate decided that my soulmate is someone who happens to be a chef, well… that’s just perfect, isn’t it?!

Let me be clear first, the fact that he is a chef was not in any way the reason I fell in love with him. My feelings would still be the same if he was a dangdut singer, for example (well, yeah…. maybe not so much).  I never really made a big deal about what he does, actually. But when I started dating him a week or so and my friends got all excited saying stuff like ‘Wow, he’s a chef! You’re so lucky!’ or ‘Yaaay! Free food!” it got me thinking… is it really a big deal, dating a chef? But why?

 

Expectation #1: Dating a Chef = Free Food at His Restaurant

This seems to be the main assumption and the first thing people ask me when I tell them my boyfriend’s a chef. First of all, if every wife and husband and girlfriend and boyfriend of people who work in a restaurant can eat there for free, how do you think the restaurant will make money? Pretty sure their family members would just eat there 2-3 times a day, every day, if they don’t have to pay a single penny. Then the restaurant goes bankrupt in 3 months and they live happily ever after.

So no. I still have to pay for my food if I eat in the restaurant where he works. If he owns the restaurant, yes, maybe I can be entitled to free meals, but if he works in a restaurant owned by other people or a company, every food that comes out of the kitchen has to be paid.

Ok sure sometimes he put the bill under his name and he gets employee discount, and most of the times he pay for my food anyway so I don’t have to spend any money, but the food itself is never free.

The only time where the food is gratis is when he does food trials, making dishes for a new menu and letting some people try and taste it. Or, when we go to eat in a restaurant where he knows the chef, usually we get complimentary food or wine. Doesn’t happen very often, but when it does happen, I always shout ‘Yaaay! Free food!”

NEVER let free food goes to waste!

NEVER let free food goes to waste!

 

Expectation #2: Dating a Chef = Awesome Home-Cooked Meal Everyday

This is an important fact that everyone has to know: chefs don’t cook at home.
Seriously, they just don’t. Think of it this way, if you spend most of your days in the kitchen preparing food for other people (chefs usually don’t cook, they just supervise, but you get my point, right?), do you really think that once you get home you would want to cook some more?

I’ll tell you what he cooks at home (IF he cooks at all). Indomie. Yup, instant noodles. Which is basically the only thing I can cook anyway. Sure, he cook it the way a chef would cook it, with extra seasoning, extra garnish, in extra special way, but cooking Indomie isn’t really cooking. And that’s only when he’s in the mood to cook (or when he actually wants to eat Indomie himself), otherwise if I’m hungry he usually just order delivery from Pizza Hut or McDonald’s.

This is all what you can find in Matteo's kitchen.

This is all what you can find in Matteo’s kitchen.

Expectation #3: Dating a Chef = Exploring All the Restaurants and Food Places in Town When You’re Out On a Date

Here’s the thing about chefs. Just because they handle food, doesn’t necessarily mean they are obsessed by food. I mean, how can you be obsessed by something that you have to deal with for 10 hours per day everyday?

Sure, there are some chefs that are also a foodie, always want to check out a new indian restaurant that was just opened, to try out this new dish that everyone has been raving about, or to come and visit the competitors, but most of them they just don’t care. Usually they stick to their comfort food so if they love a good beef tartare they will go to this one place that has a good beef tartare and they will visit that place every time they want to eat beef tartare.

Oh and one other thing, they are VERY picky. I mean really…, the meanest, worst, food critics that you will ever know is a chef. Everything has to be perfect and up to their standard. They treat the food that comes to their table as a guest just as they treat food in the kitchen counter of their restaurant about to be delivered to the guests. And when they found something they didn’t like about how it’s plated, how it’s seasoned, how it’s chopped, how it’s cooked, or how it tasted, they will not stop complaining about it. So usually whenever I take my boyfriend to a new restaurant that I want to try, I always brace myself for the series of critiques like I’m watching Master Chef and I’m eating with Gordon Ramsay. My boyfriend is even worse, he critics also the spelling in the menu, if it’s in Italian. “It’s ossobuco, not osso bucco, and it’s one word!”

This is a nice chef compared to my bf when he find the word "macaroni" in the menu of Italian restaurant.

This is a nice chef compared to my bf when he find the word “macaroni” in the menu of Italian restaurant.

Expectation #4: Dating an Italian Chef = Eating a Lot of Italian Food

My boyfriend is Italian and he is a chef specialized in Italian food. So when we eat at the restaurant where he works, of course we will have Italian food. But when we eat out, trust me, he will never ever in a million years order Italian food. Heck, it would be a miracle if I could drag him to eat in an Italian restaurant that is not where he works.

The reason? Well why do they want to eat in a place where it serves the food that they know best how to cook? In the case of Italian chefs, ‘ESPECIALLY if the chef is not Italian.’ Trust me, they will avoid Italian restaurant where the chef is Japanese, for example. Usually they will avoid any Italian restaurants altogether. The only time I eat Italian food with my boyfriend is when it’s in his restaurants, or when he decided to cook it at home (happened maybe only 2-3 times), and when we were in Italy (no other choices, it was all Italian food in Italy, but hey at least it’s made by Italians!).

If the chef looks like this, it's a good enough Italian restaurant.

If the chef looks like this, then it’s a good Italian restaurant.

Expectation #5: Dating a Chef = Great! You Can Learn How to Cook Too!

Uhmm.. Why would I?
If you love to cook even before you met him, great. You can learn a few tricks from him, then. But if you’re like me, if you would prefer spending a bit more money eating out or ordering take-outs (or saving money by “cooking” instant noodles), when you have a chef boyfriend or husband it will still be the same. You have someone else in charge of the food, why should you be one too?

Plus, he will not stand it to see me trying to “cook”. He would just grab the pans and the spatula and the whatever it is that I have in my hand, and just finish cooking it for me (or cook an entirely new dish).

Most women feel that they want to spoil their man by cooking him a nice hot dinner, bla bla bla, Stepford Wives style, but if your man can cook 100 times better than you do, honey, don’t even try. Surprise him in bed instead.

Better cooks than I am.

Better cooks than I am.

Expectation #6: Dating a Chef = Watching A Lot of Cooking Show on TV

Oh how I love cooking shows! I never cook in my whole life but I love watching people cook on TV. And I love cooking competition shows (Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Top Chef, Master Chef Junior, My Kitchen Rules… I watch all!). You would think my chef boyfriend will gladly watch the shows with me?

Not a chance.

When he knows how it is in the kitchen of a real restaurant, he doesn’t like to watch the dramatic version of it on TV. Or when some contestant of Master Chef is crying because Joe Bastianich complemented her dish, he would just say ‘Why?! It’s just a poached egg!”

I’ve tried watching some cooking shows with him and most of the times I can barely hear the audio coming from the TV because this chef sitting next to me was busy giving commentary on how they should not chop carrots like that, how they should not put this ingredients into that sauce, how stupid it is to praise a person who can put a plate of chicken soup, bla bla bla. From then on, I always watch my cooking shows alone, thank you.

I watch it because it reminds me of a telenovela.

I watch it because it reminds me of a telenovela.

Expectation #7: Dating a Chef = Dreams Come True

Well maybe, if the purpose of your life is to date or to marry a chef (are you okay?). But when your man is a chef, you will actually need extra patience.

For example, you do know that most restaurants closed at 10pm or even later, right?? That’s when the chef can come home. So if other couples go out for dinner or movies or hang out after work (that is around 7 or 8pm), it’s not like that with you. After work for your boyfriend means 11pm.. okay, sometimes 9.30pm if it’s something important, but you can’t do that too often.

And then, you also do know that restaurants are open also on weekends, right? Well at least here in Indonesia (and Asia in general) they open 7 days a week. And weekends are when it’s the busiest and the most crowded and making the most money. So usually, a chef’s day off is not on weekend. It’s only one day off, not 2 days like ‘normal’ people, and most of the times it’s not on weekend. So it’s even harder for you to plan a day together. Not to mention the headache when you have to plan a vacation together. Then when you’re away on an island getting a sun tan he will receive calls from work about a supplier sending the wrong piece of beef or a menu that has to be created for an event.

So no, it’s not exactly a “dream come true” nor it’s a perfect situation to be dating or marrying a chef, but of course it has some perks. I’ve mentioned about the food tasting before, then it’s also nice to be able to enter a restaurant where all the staff greets you by your name (I know, I’m vain that way), and even though he doesn’t cook that much at home, when he cooks… he really blows your mind.

Come to think of it, maybe for me dating a chef is not such a big deal. But according to my belly, it is.

-Lika

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