I’ve got to be honest with you. The most inspired thing that I’ve made for myself recently was saltines with cream cheese and cherry preserves as a midnight snack. This past week I worked roughly 80 hours. I’ve just started a new second job and I’m still trying to adjust to this intense new schedule, and although I haven’t been able to spend much time in my kitchen I’ve certainly been busy mentally – plotting and planning about what I’m going to make on my next free day, and reflecting on some of the very cool things that I got to experience last month.
Last month I was able to do something that I’ve only just dreamt about, namely, attending the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. I’ve always wanted to experience this event, but the hefty price tag for a pass has always been prohibitive, not to mention a serious shortage of dreams on my part. Fortunately, I was able to go as a worker for the Bombay Sapphire booth through the generosity of The Kitchen Hotline and our sister company, Mawa’s Kitchen Aspen, which is located in Aspen. Thus began the busiest “vacation” of my life. I know 15-hour working days don’t sound like fun to most, but I had a blast.
It was eye-opening to have my first real kitchen experience helping Chef Mawa McQueen out with prep for the various appetizers Mawa’s Kitchen were making for the event. I find that we like a lot of things in theory …. “man I would just LOVE to be a (insert career here)”, but experience often disproves theory. Not in this case. I loved it. I also learned, much to Chef Sarah’s relief, that I’m actually competent in the kitchen as well, and for someone with my confidence issues, it was a great boost.
I also got to work with some amazing chefs and mixologists. I will always remember, with a mixture of fondness and exhaustion, helping GQ’s Most Inspired Bartender winning mixologist Jason Asher squeeze 9 gallons of lime juice …… by hand. Which, strangely enough, I also had fun doing. It was surreal – I had my lunch for that day made by Top Chef contestant Angelo Sosa, and my drink to go with it made by an award winning mixologist (a quickly prepared and incredibly delicious ceviche, and a drink combining gin, cilantro, lime juice, and Young’s chocolate stout – AMAZING if you were wondering).
And that was all before the event even started. Three days of intense, frenetic activity. Amazing food, great people, and some really wonderful parties – the most interesting of which was the launch for Infinite Monkey Theorem’s sparkling wine in a can, which was held in an abandoned silver mine. Try doing that tour in 5” heels. I got some great celeb chef sightings in: Richard Blais, Andrew Zimmerman, Mario Batali, Iron Chef Symon. I got to meet and chat with The Next Food Network Star Susie Jimenez.
I have to say though, what stood out as the best part was the people that I got to work closely with that weekend. Getting to work with Angelo Sosa (if your in NYC check out his restaurant Social Eatz) and the chefs that came with him, Froilan and Ricky, was frankly one of the highlights of my trip. These guys are great chefs and a lot of fun to be around. They were patient with the “fetch & carry” girl (as I called myself all weekend) who had absolutely no experience with this sort of event, and vastly entertaining. I came out of this experience with more than a huge mountain of sleep debt – I came out of it with some amazing new friends, memories that will always make me smile, the certainty that food is my passion, something I will be pursuing with singleminded intensity in the years to come, and lots of great ideas simmering away for future meals.
So dream big. You never know what life will bring your way.