Frequently Asked Questions About Being Married to a Chef

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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!

married to a chefDoes 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.)

married to a chefWhat 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,

Jennifer

 

 

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27 Comments

  1. Robin Willix

    Hey there!

    I am going to enroll for culinary school soon and I ask myself if it is possible to live a fulfilled life where I can see my family everyday so my questions are:

    Is it possible for a chef to celebrate his kids birthdays or to visit a ballet dance of his little daughter?

    What is usually the longest time period you can’t really spend more than 2 hours with your husband?

    Hopefully you can answer my questions, yours sincerely Robin

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      HI Robin! I’m so glad you asked!

      It is possible to celebrate birthdays, you might just have to celebrate at a different time than you would have in the past. It’s easier for my chef/husband to be home in the morning, so for the kids birthdays, we usually do presents and a special birthday breakfast in the morning (complete with candles of course) so he can be part of it before heading off to work. We also plan birthday parties on Sundays when he is usually off so he can be there.

      As far as school functions or something like a ballet recital, my husband has been able to get off. He’s been at the Executive Chef level since we’ve had kids, so usually he’s able to work it out. Those are also not very often. He does miss out on some school functions, but not all of them are a big deal to the girls, so it seems to work out fine as long as he’s there for the big ones.

      As far as a length of time that I get to spend with my husband, that really depends. On his days off, we have the entire day together. I know this is a luxury and only possible because I don’t work outside the home though. When I worked full time, we had all day Sunday together and then one evening a week together (plus mornings before I went to work.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂
      Jennifer recently posted…Banned Culinary Words, Chef Awards and Wife of the Chef- A Few of My Favorite Things – November 2014My Profile

      Reply
  2. Sarah

    Thank you!!!! I’m not alone!! Been with my chef boyf nearly 10 years. I’ve had many friends ask if he does actually exist because only a handful have met him!
    He’s grumpy, tired and smelly most the time and has filled our house with cookery books!! But when he’s over the work stress he’s amazing! (Still a bit smelly though!)
    Even though it would be nice to not always being on my own at friends weddings and parties, i wouldn’t change him and it’s actually made me more confident and outgoing. They’re a different breed chefs, but definately worth the extra effort!!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Haha! The smelly part cracks me up! When we were first married, we lived in a tiny apartmen. When he came home from work, he had to leave his stinky chef clothes as far away from the bedroom as possible or I couldn’t sleep! I hear ya!! 🙂

      Reply
      • sarah

        ha ha. Yes we have separate lidded box for dirty chef clothes which lives in the spare room. Nice…..
        That is, if he remembers to get them out of his car and doesnt leave them festering in the boot for a week!! *sigh*

        Reply
        • Jennifer

          Oh my gosh! The smell of the car when chef clothes or shoes have been left in there! I totally forgot about that! 🙂 A lidded box is a great idea!!

          Reply
  3. Alex

    I came across this pin by complete accident! I feel extatic to see something I can relate to. As I am reading your post I can relate 🙂 I am a mom of three and have been married to my chef for almost 20 years. With the exception of the first couple of months, this has been our life. I feel like there are others like me out in the world! I know that we were out there just never seen or read anything about being a Chef’s Wife. Thank you ❤️

    Reply
  4. Alicia

    Hi Jennifer! Growing up my parents weren’t around much, and that really hurt me. My husband and I have been married for 2 years now, he too is a chef. We’re starting to talk about having a family, but with his 14 hr days I’m a little hesitant. I don’t want our kids feeling like he is never around or doesn’t care. I know you’re not a therapist, but even without kids sometimes I feel like he’s not here (even if he’s here). How do you deal with it? Are you ever afraid that your kids will be disappointed or hurt when he can’t make it to a game/event? I know its part of his job, and he’s doing what’s best, but his schedule is not flexible whatsoever (he’s gotten one holiday off in 4 years) and he’s also an insomniac (he it takes him 4 hrs to fall asleep, even though on most nights he wont be home until 4). I just want to know, is it possible to lead a normal and happy life with his hours after having a family?

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Hi Alicia. While not a therapist 🙂 I am happy to share my life and what has worked and not worked for us. The kids are sometimes disappointed. But when that happens, we talk about why Daddy is working and how important it is that he tries his best at work and works hard so he can provide for us. (And they know that all our money comes from his job since I don’t work outside the home.) We try and focus on how he is working for us and how that sometimes means he misses things he really wants to be at.

      As far as leading a normal life . . . if you are describing normal like I always thought life would be growing up in a home where my Dad worked a 9-5 job . . . than no. Our life looks different than mine did as a child. But different is OK. I can’t compare it (and shouldn’t be trying to) to other families who do not have a chef in them.

      Hope that helps. 🙂
      Jennifer recently posted…So You Think You Want to Marry a Chef . . .My Profile

      Reply
  5. April V

    Hello all I am new to here. I have been with my chef boyfriend for 3 years and we have a beautiful one year old together. I understand the chef life but recently he has decided to take on extra projects as well, one now being he is training a young culinary student for skills USA. I will not lie having my boyfriend spending all day with a young 18 year old girl is not comforting and her calling and texting him. I was angry because his job already takes him away so much, which I understand but to volunteer without asking me first bothered me. When I confronted him he said that taking on students and newer chefs is part of the job. Has your partners took on training students for skills competitions?

    Reply
  6. Ruhee

    I am getting married to a chef and he is such an amazing wonderful man. I am just starting to worry about if we will ever be able to spend time together and when. How do you make it work?

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      You take advantage of every second you have together. You also have to be willing to change your plans last minute when their schedule changes. 🙂 Best of luck on your upcoming marriage! 🙂

      Reply
  7. Vikki

    Love this! So happy that I was able to find a blog that I SO easily relate to. My chef hubby and I have been married for a year and a half now, we dated for about four years before that. A question I often get is “What sort of gourmet stuff so you have in your pantry, is there a lot?” haha. My answer: yes, and then no. Yes I do have ghee, leaf lard and clarified butter on hand at all times, and yes I know the difference between each of them. We have seasame oil, coconut oil and at least three kinds of high end olive oil. And that’s just an example to start. At the same time we’ve got Hot Pockets, Top Ramen and frozen pizza readily available. When he comes home after working a 12hr shift the last thing he wants to do is spend more time in the kitchen, and yes I cook but we also now have a beautiful baby girl now so sometimes (and sometimes does turn into often) the quickest thing he can do for substance is totally acceptable to his “chef palate”. I also often get “Do chefs make a lot of money” which I think might be their nice way of asking “are you sure he eats Tom Ramen by choice?” Haha. To me, it’s not about the money, it’s about him contributing to the family. Sometimes the best way to contribute is by being a happy, passionate husband who thrives inside of his workplace. That happiness and passion follows him home. Even if financially our psyches are tipped to one spouse, we are still a team, and he’s a better husband because he has the ability to live out his dreams.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I love everything about this comment!! So glad you found me. 🙂 I just sent you an invite for our closed Facebook group too so make sure to look for it in your email. 🙂 Looking forward to getting to know you Vikki.

      Reply
  8. Chef Jessica w

    As a personal chef, and current culinary student I absolutely love what I do. It makes us feel alive inside to create all day. My fiancé is the most wonderful amazing man for putting up with this strong willed female chef. We need amazing partners like yourself to help keep the family going because you guys have given us the most wonderful gift of letting us be our crazy, creative selves.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Thanks Jessica. 🙂 Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!!

      Reply
  9. corrine

    Ive been married to a chef for 1 1/2 years and we have an 8mth old. Since the birth of our bub, our marriage has been pretty much on the rocks. We have NO time together and he’s consistently having to go in to work on his ‘days off’. Things have got worse since I went back to work 4 days a week too. Our household needs the income, I’m not sure about there but in Australia chefs get paid pretty terribly! Today after he got called into work on our one day together for the week I finally snapped & told him to pack a bag and not to come home after work. My dad was a chef when I was growing up so was under no false illusions of glamour when we got together, but it’s proving much more difficult than I ever imagined! I’m alone so often (and have no family so it’s even harder) and I feel so very lonely ALL. THE. TIME. My husband is NOT my confidant and no longer my best friend and that sucks. This is not the life I ever wanted for myself or my family!!! I’m kind of just venting right now, but have I gone too far in asking him not pack his bag? I really don’t think I can handle this life.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I’m so sorry Corrine. It’s so hard when they constantly get called in on their days off. Make me wish we didn’t own a phone sometimes!! I can very much relate to feeling lonely all the time, especially when our girls were little, we only had one car and I was stuck at home All. THE. TIME by myself! It’s so hard!! Would love to chat more with you via email or on Facebook if you’d like. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1586875798193404/

      Reply
  10. Rachel P.

    Ms. Jennifer,

    I love your blog! I really and truly do. I’m only 18 years old but I’m currently head over heels for my chefboyfriend for over a year now, and we feel pretty good about us, even with college looming.

    Even this young he does a lot of working because he is the Student Sous Chef of the culinary arts department at our high school, and being our last semester here, he has been getting more and more job opportunities and culinary competitions that absorb his time.

    I think I do pretty great at being supportive while still focusing on my own goals, but of course I sometimes need a bit of advice. Your blog is MORE THAN AMAZING for that. I’ve found other chefwife blogs that have actually been 100% the opposite of what would be helpful, and basically, the point of this whole long post is to let you know how much I appreciate you and this blog, and I pray you keep posting for years and years and years to come 🙂

    I hope you have a WONDERFUL NIGHT! And an even more fantastic week.

    Rachel

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Hi Rachel. I’m glad you found the blog so helpful! 🙂 How great that your high school has a culinary arts department! Not many do!! Best of luck to you both as you finish up the year and with college “looming”. (We loved college!!)

      Reply
  11. Carol Moser

    Jennifer, You are beautiful with long hair and short hair.

    Reply
  12. Radovan

    I am 1 year in university studying to become a chef. I love cooking and I wanted to become a chef since I was a kid. But.
    I am 20 (21 soon) (male), I love nature, I love spending time in it, I love going fishing and camping with friends and its one of my big passions. I also would love to be able to spend time with my family (when I form one) and just be able to enjoy life with them like my parents did with me.
    Lately Ive been starting to get doubts and I dont really know what to do. I love cooking but I dont know if that love and passion that I have for food and for the whole process of combining nothing and making it into something that captivates the eyes and hearts of people that eat it, is enough to fill the void that would be left by giving up the things I grew up with/doing, the things I love and care about :/.
    I dont know, Im in a weird place right now and I dont know what to do. Now Im not even sure if I really want to be a chef, but also when I take that knife in my hands and start preparing food, when I learn all the different techniques and styles/ways of doing the something, it does feel good and it brings that love back. I dont know :/.
    If you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      It’s a hard career to have and enjoy all those things as well. There will definitely be sacrifices. Is there something else you are interested in for a career? You can always cook for your family and friends. I know it’s not the same thing at all, but just asking if you have thought of anything else. If you can’t see yourself doing anything else, then that’s probably your answer.

      Reply
  13. Madisyn

    At one point in the beginning of your relationship, did you ever suspect he was cheating or suspect that he just didn’t want to spend time with you? If so, were either true? I’m dating a chef and I barely see him.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Hi Madisyn. We were married when my husband got his first line cook position. I never thought he was cheating or didn’t want to spend time with me, but did struggle a lot with him being gone all the time and barely seeing him. We talked about it a lot and he assured me that he would rather be at home than at work, but there was really no option except to change careers. I know it’s hard, but good communication really helped.

      Reply

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