THE PRICE TAG

It seems like the heartache I am feeling in leaving the kitchen has a price. Don’t we all? I am in the process of discovering what that price is. I should preface this post by saying that if  you end up thinking I am a whining bitch, you probably have a point.

In these times where money is tight and nowhere more so than in my wallet, anyone talking about a promotion and a raise should be out there with a bottle of champagne (or some cheap Napa Prosecco) and a smile on their faces. But not me, because I am a sentimental weirdo.

I had been vying for more money for quite some time and the only possible way I could earn more in this business is to move to a front of the house managerial position. Kitchen people are notoriously underpaid, and chefs are no exception. Very few of us end up with a book deal or a tv show or a famous restaurant.But kitchen work is, by necessity, a labour of love. Why else endure the sweat, the muck and a constant state of exhaustion without  ever making your bank manager happy?

That is why, when I got the news a few days ago that there would be an opportunity to work the front of the house in the establishment where I am currently employed, I took the chance to make my bi-weekly paycheck a little less sad.What ended up being sad, though, is me. I sobbed all the way home, because,  in my new private office, I know I will miss the chatter of the other chefs  working on their computers around me, the smell of bacon and brownies that greets me every morning when I walk in, my wonderful staff who has become more supportive than a family and has seen me through a difficult year, the sheer pleasure of seeing one of my concoctions on a white plate, deconstructing flavours in my mouth because it’s part of my job.

More than anything else, I am scared of not finding enough of a creative outlet in my new endeavor. For years my creativity was at the service of talented or not so talented musicians who were out there, expressing themselves. It took me a long time to realize that it might have been more fulfilling if my creative streak was put to a more selfish use.   And  now, I look back at the years in the kitchen with more than fondness and happy memories – it’s akin to a passionate love affair, one that I am having a difficult time explaining to the people in my life who think I am stir crazy.

For years, I experienced the luxury of waking up truly happy to go to work. What if now my job becomes just that, a job? Albeit one that will afford me prettier shoes. And at 47 I need to make decisions that make rational and financial sense, no? I never thought of myself in terms of a price tag but, apparently, I do have one.

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