One Year In, Self-Reflection And Confection

I know the right thing to do.  I know by now that I should have the confidence to do whatever I want do.  I mean, come on man.

I know I am not an expert, but I know that I an more than competent.

So what is holding me back from like truly believing in myself?  Why do I insist that I have so many short comings and so much to learn?  Why can I not after a year of being in leadership throw my weight around?  I constantly resent people because they do not respect that fact that they should listen to me.  I never demand that they listen, which is my problem, they just don’t get it.  My advice is not an negotiable item at an auction, it’s a highly refined opinion that you really should do.  I mean, come on, lady.

Anyway, harmonizing the nonchalance of adaptation with the hyper sensitivity of precision can be a bit of a tight rope stroll, if you catch my drift.  I gotta say, I feel like I have I met my match.  I work in a kitchen that has a strange balance of personalities and attitudes.  Maybe never has so many different people cohabited that same space and time, with timidly snarkly me caught right in the twilight.

Semi-Obligatory Birthday Post

It’s that day again- it happens once a year to everybody and today it’s my turn.

My birthday always makes me so self-reflective, it makes my heart look in the mirror and ask “What have I done with my life?  Who have I become?  Have I made a difference?  Am I successful?  Am I happy?”

Seriously, why I can’t just be carefree like I usually am, why can’t I take the day off emotionally?  Instead it’s the opposite where I question everything about my life: who I have become, what impact I have made upon the world around, where my career is going, what does my future hold?

Some birthdays are filled with the most happiness I have ever felt, some are filled with tears and remorse.  Very few are non-memorable in terms of emotion and self-reflection.

This year, my 34th, I have finally reconnected with that sense of indescribable joy that has slowly leaked out of my heart over the last year filled with work stress.

I am a giver.  I give out all my energy to the outside world- mostly to strangers, but also to my coworkers and friends because I have this unending need to make everyone happy.  I am only partially delusional- I know I can’t actually make people happy, but I want to do all I can to make everyone smile.   Lately, it has taken its toll on me-  I have nothing left for myself.  Lately, after a full night of rest, I still feel drained, tired, empty.  I need a lot of coffee, a daily personal pep talk, just to get a minimal sense of momentum to take on the day, to endure the tasks.

Something has got to give. This is a reality that has been weighting on my mind a lot in the past few months.  And that in itself is tiring.  Being mad, upset, questioning everything, unsure, making myself motivated every morning is so exhausting- on top of the long, hard days in a hot, demanding kitchen.

Today, though, after deep though and self-reflection, after a personal examination of what I have done, what I am doing, the people in my life, why I work so damn hard basically all the time- I feel so fucking joyful.  I have wonderful people in my life that give a damn about me, about wanting me to smile, about wanting me to shine my energy with them.

I have spent so many years wanting a career I am proud of.  Although it’s a lot of work, I have been given the chance to finally be a Chef.  It’s way more work than I bargained for, but I am proud of everything I have created, and at the end of the day, that is really the most important thing to me.

So cheers, Marinara, to a new year.  Cheers to not being stressed about work, cheers to having more to talk about then work, cheers to following my personal standards for health and happiness.

I have a wonderful people in my life, and at the end of the year- that’s all that matters.  I am looking forward to focusing on the love in my heart, to keeping this joy so that I can shine it out.   The most I can do to help increase the happiness of the friends, co-workers, and strangers is to concentrate on the love and joy that I create with relationships and art.  And that is not hard, difficult, or draining- this is the easy part.

Lucky Number

Already it has been two months since the new year rang its bell.  I have not yet divulged all the luck I drew over the past year, I have not yet documented all the adventures that the past year brought.

Until June of last year, I was a devout personal recorder keeper. Last year began with high ambitions of art and writing.  I was posting on Marigold every day- so much so that I had posts planned out for weeks, scheduled and ready roll out at a set time.  I had recently rediscovered drawing- black ink highlighted with colored pencil- a very whimsical yet focused and symmetrical portrait of dancing lines.

I have not been the artist I was in the start of the 2016.  I have not even begun to document all the dishes I have put out in the last 6 months- a personal goal that is greeted with a D- failing grade.  It’s not that the resolution to Marigold wore thin, it’s that I found and focused on a large, all consuming professional project.

Marigold is not the only one who has experienced the profound drop-off in friendship, communication, sanity, support, and the charisma of the real me.  I spent so much of the second half of the year at work that it took everything and everyone from me.  I started a  giant and lovely garden that I let die hot summer sun.  I had to make appointments to see my roommate.  I saw my boyfriend while he slept, and he kissed me goodbye while I snored. Hell, I even miss myself.

It’s been one hell of a year.  I have two jobs, two homes, a boyfriend and roommate/bestie situation.  Life lately has been bananas and so detail-oriented my brain feels like I am constantly holding a plasma globe.

Yet, these are small sacrifices for the amazing feats that 2016 brought to me personally. 16 has always been my lucky number.  Ever since grade school, this auspicious number has been a good luck charm. For me, 2016 was a very lucky year.

January 2016 was greeted in South Africa.  The year started with a trip to a country that I never thought I would actually experience.  That feeling was a carry-over from 2015 when I rang in the new year in India.  I never thought that I would be lucky enough to travel to either country- and yet within one year I got very nice introduction to two very different cultures.

I have spent everyday of the entire year utterly in love.  Love is something that I never take for granted; it was not something that I was expecting to come to me.  Love is very special, and I feel extremely lucky to have found it.

Last year I got a promotion.  I got to be part of opening a brand new restaurant, and with that came the opportunity to run 2 pastry programs, simultaneously.  Much against my constant fear of failure, the new pastry program has been going better than splendid.  One might even call it a success.  We sell a butt load of dessert, I have received all good reviews from Chicagoland critics.  There has not yet been one flop.  The dish that sold the least made it in the top 131 things the MIke Sula ate that year (number 45 the Argentinean Float).

I got nominated for rising pastry chef of the year award- local but still legit.  As it turns out I did not win, but the nomination was very flattering.  I went to the awards, I wore a lovely emerald green dress, and my whole family went to support me and my growing career.

I was on television twice.  Local news- one was aired live, the other taped in one sitting.  I said “ummm” too many times, but I felt confident, I felt comfortable being me, being taped, being in high definition.

I almost got to meet Obama.  Seriously, he almost ate at one the restaurants.  How cool is that?

January 2017, started in tears- shockingly.  It was the chef’s dawn (9am) when I broke open my eyelids like two cold eggs- with a feeling of peril in my gut.  I woke up with a profound sense of dismay- of having to start the year over again- to have to experience everything that has to happen, again.  It’s a scary thought, to revisit the hardships and fears, the emotional roller coaster that was 2016.  Yes there were many positives that came out of the year, but it was a very challenging year at the same time.  It was worth it, but the thought of having to go through that process again, from the beginning, is terrifying.

I don’t want to have to face that caliber of a struggle again, even though I do.  I create my own struggles and my own wars, because they are a necessary side affect of my accomplishments.

Maybe 2017 will be just as magical as last year, maybe it will get easier with time, maybe I will find my artistic voice again, maybe I will not be so afraid of failing, maybe I will have time to dance.

Resolution Rehash

My friend has mantras instead of new years resolutions.  I saw a quick post on facebook, in January, but it stuck with me.  I can’t do an epic new years resolution that supposedly will last all year and make me a stronger and improved human.

So in the same spirit, a mantra or two:

Be a better person to yourself.

Do things that make you feel better.

Water is delicious, always.

Eat the way you want to.

Do yoga everyday, even if its 10 minutes.

Have some tiny balls, at the least.

Dont give up because you think you are dumb or wrong- the times that you are right make up for the times that you are wrong.

Stop being so stressed out and vent your issues in a constructive and non-intrusive way.

Marigold has been ignored for long enough- time to make time for her, and for art.

Don’t be afraid to do things for yourself.  Be more selfish, tell people what you need them to do for you.  STOP doing everything all the time- it’s not fair to anyone.

Be positive, be happy, feel the love.

 

Fire Cake

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Flaming piri piri marshmallow, candy coated chocolate mousse, honey caramel, candied cocoa nibs, dulce de leche crumb, pomegranate preserves.

This dessert captures the essence of the restaurant, more so than anything else I have created.  The concept of the restaurant is built around a wood burning kitchen that is open for the diners to see.  The kitchen is basically a wall of flames dancing in the backdrop of a delicious meal.  I wanted to bring a piece of that excitement to each table, I wanted to bring a slice of the action to each diner, I wanted the fire to be an integral part of the meal.

I am pretty happy with the outcome of this dish.  It is chocolate based but not too heavy.  It is not overly sweet, it is gooey, an array of textures backed by a fruit component, and a hint of spice.

To be honest, I have been working on this dish for a while, documented here Table side Effigy and here Wait for It and again here Version 1.0

Still, this dish is not done yet.  It still has to evolve into something greater, into something better, into a new identity.  It is always hard to top a winner, and the challenge leaves a lot of room for disappointment.  Nevertheless, I only see room for potential.  The evolution continues.

 

Cut off

It’s that time of year again.  I dread this time, but I am simultaneously looking forward to changing my ways.  Every year I do a 30 day paleo challenge- a time when I have to drastically change my lifestyle and eating habits for the better.  This year, I really need it.  I have really gone off the rails in terms of using red wine as a source of stress reliever and personal reward.  I have been taking most of my meals out of the fryer, I have been ordering food on my weekends, too lazy to grocery shop,to  cook, and to clean.  Lately I have trimmed my meals down to once a day because I don’t even want to take the time to chew.  I am not mad at myself, I am not disappointed in my past behavior, but it is time to act mature about the things I put in my body.  This is the time to concentrate on everything that I put in my mouth.  No more comfort eating, no more boredom snaking, no more stress french fries.

So, the next 30 days will focus on vegetables and fresh food.  It will focus on water and self-improvement.  Aside from the diet goals, I have to do a full body overhaul.  I have to stretch, exercise, write, read, photograph, and create art.  I have to stop so much focus on work, and focus on my physical and artistic self.

VDAY 2017

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Red Wine Velvet.  Dark chocolate, red wine, toasted almond, red rose petal, pomegranate.

This plate is a celebration of love and sensuality.  Chocolate, red wine, and roses- all the things a luck lady wants to receive on this Hallmark of Love Holiday.  Complimented with almond and pomegranate, a dark chocolate ganache cake spiked with red wine is the centerpiece.  All the flavors are aphrodisiacs, the texture is very rich, smooth, and deep.  Topped with cold, creamy toasted almond ice cream, below a tangy pomegranate glaze, paired with crunchy rose petal candy and caramel almonds, red wine pearls strung along, this is memorable dish was created to enjoy with love.