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What’s it like to be married to a chef? Here are some answers to the questions you have asked or have always wanted to ask, but never had the courage to!
Does a chef cook at home?
When he is home, yes he does. The key part of that phrase is “when he is home.” His cooking is better than mine, plus I think it’s easier for him to work in the kitchen than to figure out how to floss a 4 year old’s teeth. 🙂 I do cook occasionally, but he usually ends up stepping in and taking over (which I prefer.) I don’t expect him to cook, he just does it. (See this post about his recent time at home and cooking and also this one on cooking for family and friends.)
What kind of hours does a chef work?
Too many! It varies from day to day and season to season. I would say a good average is 12-15 hours a day, with a commute. So a 60-70+ hour work week. Yep . . . too many. Things tend to change at the last minute as well, which can be difficult.
What are his days off?
What are days off? Just kidding. It really varies. Most weeks, he is able to take 2 days off. But around the holidays and during the summer he will often work 6 or even 7 days a week. His days off are usually during the week, not on the weekend. The days tend to changed, based on what is going on in the restaurant. It makes it hard to plan things.
Do chef’s get vacation time?
Yes. He currently gets 2 weeks of paid time off a year. It’s not always easy to find the time to take it, but he does get time off. You can read more about this here. (You can also read about our AMAZING family vacation last summer!!)
When do you find time to see each other with the hours that he works?
Right now, I am blessed to be able to stay home full time and take care of our family and home. Usually, if I do have something planned, it’s just a playdate for the girls, or coffee with a friend and I can reschedule easily if I need to. So when he’s off, I am home. I used to cancel everything on the days he is off, but we’ve discovered that allowing him to have some quiet time at home while we go out for a few hours, is beneficial for all of us. Even though I’m home full time, it’s not always easy to find time to talk.
For all the years I worked full time before we had kids . . . that’s a different story. I was a teacher, working from 7:30 am – 3:30 pm (or longer since I had no one at home waiting for me). My husband usually started work at 1 pm and got home around 1 or 2 am. So on the days he worked, we didn’t really see each other. On his days off, which were usually during the week, I came home right after school and we had the evening together. Looking back, I remember it being hard to find time to talk . . . little did I know how much harder it would be with 3 kids, even it I was home full time!! We would also spend time together Saturday and Sunday mornings before he went to work.
When do you celebrate holidays if he is working?
If it’s a holiday he cares about, we just celebrate it on a different day. The girls and I will usually celebrate on the actual day with family or friends and then celebrate again when he is off. We enjoy our Thanksgiving meal the day after as we are decorating for Christmas. We go out for Valentine’s Day the week after when things have slowed down. In 15 years, this past Christmas Day is the first one he has worked. We celebrated Christmas early in the morning before he headed out. It’s not great, but we make the best of it. My friends are great about asking what our plans are and including us in their family gatherings if he’s working. This makes it a lot easier! (Our parents are 19 hours away so we REALLY miss celebrating the holidays with them. Traveling is just not possible during that time of year, and I wouldn’t want to be gone on Christmas, even if we only get to see Daddy for a few hours.)
What is it like to cook for a professional chef?
Not a big deal. I don’t expect him to be amazed by my cooking skills. There has only been one time in our 19 years of marriage he would not eat what I prepared. Click here to read more.
Since he cooks so well, how is it that you both don’t weigh a ton?
Genetics and a gym membership/workout class
What is his favorite food?
Top Ramen (OK, maybe not his favorite food, but favorite comfort food he grabs when he’s totally exhausted and dehydrated after work.) Here’s a whole post dedicated to my husband’s love for Top Ramen!
Do other people cook for your family?
My mother-in-law and one close friend used to consistently cook for us we we lived nearby. (Now we are 19 hours away. Boo!) Beyond that, a few friends and family members have been willing to invite us over but commented that they were nervous about cooking for him. One friend ordered pizza because she was too intimidated. We laughed about it the entire meal. It’s hard to get together with other families because of his work hours, so this isn’t really an issue.
There are a few exceptions to this. With the birth of each of our children and when my husband broke his back, many people brought us meals when neither of us were able to cook. I guess they all survived the process (LOL) and the food was good and so appreciated. This is not something we asked for, but our family and church friends saw the need and took care of us, despite my husband’s occupation. We are really very nice people and promise not to critique your meal if you invite us over. We really do eat normal food. My crazy husband likes Top Ramen, remember? You can read about one of my friends who survived having us over for dinner in this post.
When you take a meal to another family or to a potluck, who prepares it?
Most of the time it is me. I always feel like I should bring a sign that says I made it and presented it, although I’m sure it’s pretty obvious. There was one time he made a breakfast strata for a friend’s baby shower and people are still talking about it 2 years later. No one ever mentions things I cook 2 years later . . .
Don’t you feel like a single parent?
I used to, until I actually had a friend who was a single parent. Now I no longer feel that way. Yes, I am alone with the kids a lot! However, there is a paycheck deposited in our bank account every two weeks that I do not work for. If I was a single parent, that would not be the case. If there was an emergency, no matter what was happening in the restaurant, he would leave and come with no questions asked (by him or his staff.) While he works a lot of hours, he does so to provide for our family, not to take the place of our family or to try and get away from us. We will always come first, even in the midst of the craziness. (And yes, he will agree. Feel free to ask.)
What’s it like going out to dinner with a chef?
With the kids, it’s a normal chaotic experience (with the exception of the 4 year old asking if she can have crab with her Mac and Cheese). When it’s just us, we talk quite a bit about the food and what we like and don’t like. I’m sure it feels like being at work for my husband as he is looking around.
What’s it like to eat at the restaurant your husband runs?
Without the kids – it’s wonderful. I love going in and talking to the staff as they come up to the table. Plus, knowing the food is going to be great and that I don’t have to cook is priceless! Unfortunately, I’m not able to do this very often with 3 kids.
With the kids – a bit stressful. It’s very obvious by the amount of people stopping by our table that we are either famous or know someone that works there. HA! There’s definitely no doubt who we are when the chef walks up to our table and hugs and kisses us all. (I am pretty sure he doesn’t do that with all the guests!) There’s nothing like having a quiet, romantic dinner and then hearing a 4 year old (even a very cute one) yell, “Daddy!” across the restaurant when she sees my husband. Most people find it cute, but I would hate for my husband to get a comment card with someone complaining that we ruined their dining experience. The girls and I talk a lot about how we will not call out across the restaurant for Daddy so that others can enjoy their meal. So while we love to visit, it’s a bit stressful for me as I want to make sure we are not disruptive in any way!
We haven’t seen your husband at church for a few weeks (or longer), what’s going on?
When you run a restaurant that has a very large and successful Sunday brunch, sometimes you just have to work. You just can’t ignore it every week and hope it just goes OK. While he desires to be at church with us on Sundays, as our main source of income, sometimes he just has to work. It seems to fluctuate . . . he’s there consistently for a while, and then on and off for a while. Thanks for asking about him and caring about our family. I don’t take it personally if you ask where he is and don’t think you are judging him. I’m not worried about his salvation, but I do pray every week that we will be able to go to church as a family. You can read more about my struggles with this here.
Are you really married?
Lol – YES!!! While this was said in joking, someone actually asked me this the first time after they met my husband. They had heard about him for so long but had never met him until that day.
How many cookbooks does he own?
Over 400 traditional cookbooks (I’m estimating here) and 148 ebooks. He has read them all. The numbers change weekly. There’s also the 12,000+ recipes on the computer. I heard him say the other day he didn’t want anymore books, only ebooks. 🙂 Yay! We have more recipes than we know what to do with. 🙂
If you have any other questions you’ve always wanted to ask a chef or the wife of a chef, please comment below and I’ll add it to the list. 🙂 If you are married to or in a relationship with a chef, feel free to add any questions you have been asked too! I would love to hear them!
From one chef wife to another,