Tips for Talking to a Chef’s Wife

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Chefwives, you know the conversation.  You’ve just met someone and you’re making small talk about your family, the number of kids you have, where you work, where you live etc.

You know the question is coming.

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

“What does your husband do for a living?”

“My husband is a chef,” you say timidly, knowing one of the statements or questions that will most likely be coming next.

  • You are so lucky!!  I would love to be married to a chef!
  • You must eat so well at home.
  • Holidays must be AMAZING at your house.
  • What’s your husband’s favorite food to make?
  • He should be on Top Chef!
  • How is it that you don’t weigh a ton?
  • What’s your favorite food that that he cooks for you?
  • What restaurant does he work at?  (Insert restaurant name here.)  Oh I love that place!

 Then when people know you a little better, the comments tend to change.

  • You must feel like a single parent with all the hours your chef/husband works.
  • Why can’t your husband work less hours and spend more time with you and the kids?
  • How do you do everything by yourself?
  • Has your husband ever thought about changing careers so he can work less hours?

While some of these make me laugh, I have to be honest, some of them are not easy to hear, over and over again as you are talking with people.  It gets a little old and sometimes I start to get frustrated and even annoyed.

Then sometimes you get comments like this.

I often think of you and how strong you have to be with the hours that your husband works and the many things you have to do without him. I am encouraged that you do not stay home and hide. Then I think of the minor statement that even I make that are not meant derogatory when we comment with surprise when Tom is present or ask where Tom is and how that may unintentionally hurt.

Wow!!  (This comment was from a friend after I sent out an email about starting this blog.)

She gets it.  She get’s my life and she’s not married to a chef!!

I’m so grateful for friends like this.  God has truly blessed me with some amazing friends.  Friends that actually seem to “get it” or at least try really, really hard to. 

Many of my friends have spouses who also work a lot of hours and at random times so they understand that our kids are always with me in the evenings, at parties, at workout, etc.  They understand that I’m usually alone with the girls on holidays and invite us over.  They listen when I need to talk and are there to help me when I have to go to the Dr. at the last minute and can’t take 3 kids with me.  They pray for me even when I can’t tell them all the details.  I am truly blessed.

So let me ask you a question.  Do you think people are trying to be hurtful when they make these statements or ask us these questions?

Probably not (at least not most of them.)

I really think it’s just ignorance.  (And I mean that in a nice way.)  How would they know that we’ve heard these things a billion times and that it upsets us?   How would they know what it’s really like in the home of a chef if they’ve only seen it on The Food Network?  (Now if they are close friends who are still talking like this, they don’t have an excuse.  They should know better!)

Just something to think about as chefwives. . .

Tips for talking to a chef's wifeFor those of you reading who are not married to a chef, would you mind if a gave you something to think about as well . . . perhaps a few tips on how to “deal” with us or talk to us?  🙂

  • Please still include us in things you would invite couples to.  It’s no fun to be left out of things just because our spouse works at night.
  • Please don’t be upset when I bring my children with me places.  I can’t afford to hire a babysitter all the time and don’t like to be stuck at home.
  • Please don’t think or talk badly about my husband or think he’s a horrible husband and father because of the hours he works.  He’s providing for us in a career that demands the crazy hours.  It’s not necessarily by choice.
  • Chances are we will be alone on the holidays.  If you don’t mind having others at your holiday gatherings, would you think about inviting us?
  • If the phone rings and it is our chef/husband, we are going to answer it, even if we are in the middle of a conversation with you.  They don’t have many opportunities to call so when they do, we need to try and answer.  Thanks for understanding!
  • I am not a single parent, so please don’t call me that even in joking.  While my husband is at work many hours, he is still a father and the head of our household.  We are both parents and doing our best to raise our children.  While it might look like I do most of the parenting, he is at work to provide financially for us and to set an example for our daughters of how to take care of a family.
  • Thanks for understanding when we talk your ear off on the phone or when you come over for coffee.  Sometimes we are lonely and just need to talk.
  • Here’s a list of questions I get asked a lot, along with some answers, in case you want to read them.  They might be helpful in understanding why I am the way I am.

So while these types of comments about being married to a chef will probably never stop, I’ll just keep writing and trying to get the truth out.  (Feel free to help the cause by sharing this post with your friends on Facebook or Twitter.)

I’ll keep answering with a smile on my face.

And you never know, one time I might just answer one of those questions with an amazing made-up story about the gourmet meals we eat every night at home and the huge parties we have on Christmas and Thanksgiving, just to see the reaction I get from the person asking . . . you never know.

Chefwives, how do you feel when you get these responses from people?  Will you help me get the truth out by sharing this post?

From one chef wife to another,

Jennifer

 

 

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38 Comments

  1. Katie

    I love your blog! Thank you so much for sharing about your life! You are an incredible wife and mom and it sounds like you have a wonderful husband! I’ve loved getting to know you in person and through your blog! 🙂

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      So sweet . . . thank Katie. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Katie

    I am so glad that you take time to write this blog! I have found almost every post inspirational and so supportive! There ARE other people out there going through this! With a family! And a life! Seriously…thank you! 🙂

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Well, at least trying to have a life. 🙂 Glad you can relate! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Alyson

    I’ve never had anybody feel sorry for us, that’s actually never even crossed my mind before!
    I like being married to a chef, the perks are fantastic. I’m a strong, independent and fully capable woman, I don’t need my husband around all the time. Occasionally it gets to me, but very, very rarely. This week the boys and I went for a drink in the pub, just the 3 of us, we were playing a game of snakes and ladders and hoping dad would appear round the corner at 7pm, no show, I texted him, 10.30pm tonight sorry. That was a disappointment, but the boys and I had a nice time anyway .Maybe after 12 years I’m used to it ( my first husband’s hours were far worse, he was an actor, he disappeared for months on end) maybe I’m a particular “type”, I love my own space and quiet time and I’m not needy in the Birthday/Valentines/Anniversary department, we rarely acknowledge them. Christmas can be hard, but staying in at his hotel compensates for that. I like my life, as does he, I don’t mind doing things without him, if I didn’t, I’d be making changes.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Sounds like your personality and independence are a good fit for your husband’s career! As far as holidays, I just love them so much. It’s hard for me that he has to miss them (and then we miss him.) Maybe if I didn’t make such a big deal about them it wouldn’t matter to me as much. Something to think about I guess. Staying at the hotel where he’s working is definitely a nice perk for you guys!!!! 🙂

      Reply
    • Nicole

      Alyson I agree with you about not having come across anyone that feels sorry for us having a husband as a chef and I as well do like the fact that my husband is a chef. I’m also a strong independent and capable woman but it isn’t about needing him there as it is wanting him there. I’m not needy in my own birthday, anniversary, and valentines days but it’s hard when it comes down to our boys not having him on their special days and holidays. We love the holidays and they are a big deal to us it’s heartbreaking when my husband has to miss special days, holidays and occasions with our boys. It’s not because I couldn’t manage without him it’s because he is a big part of our family and we miss having him.

      Reply
  4. Amy

    Every time I read one of your blog posts, I am so so happy that I came across it. My husband I were still in high school when he first started working as a chef. He took Culinary classes in high school and then went to college and got a degree for it. But while we were in high school, I swear I was the needy girlfriend and got mad every single time he had to work on a holiday or couldn’t go on a date with me because he was working. But now, I have grown and I understand completely. Chefs are not meant to have a 9-5 job. We have been together for 6 years and married for 1 year. He is doing what he loves, and is working hard to provide for us. We have no kids and I’m still in college. And even though I don’t have kids, I can still relate to mostly everything you post about. A question that I get asked a lot is “What time does Matthew get off work today?” and I answer, “I don’t know, whenever he has nothing left to do.” I do know he has more flexible hours than any other chef, it seems. Sometimes he doesn’t have to be at work until 12 and then works until 9, 10, or 11 pm. Sometimes he goes to work at 7am and gets off at 3, 4, 5, or 6 pm. He works at a Resort. I just wonder if anyone else goes through those kind of hours.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      What time does he get off work? Good one to add to the list!! My husband has flexible hours as well. They are different every day, depending on what is going on in the restaurant. The girls always ask him what time he will be home, but he never really knows. So yes, we can relate to that. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Amy

    I had to resubmit my comment a couple times, it said that I typed in the wrong password. So you might see two different responses from me!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Only saw one. Is that phrase you have to copy/paste annoying? I’ve thought of trying to get rid of that part of the comment section.

      Reply
      • Amy

        I actually think copying and pasting it didn’t work because that’s when it said I entered in the wrong one and told me to hit back, and of course when I hit back, everything I wrote disappeared. So I just typed it in myself the second time and it worked!

        Reply
        • Jennifer

          Sorry about that. I hate it when things like that happen when I’m trying to leave a comment on someone else’s blog. Thanks for typing it again!! 🙁

          Reply
          • Amy

            No worries! It made me remember to add a few things the second time around haha 🙂

            Reply
  6. Jessica I

    I get all those questions. And then some. Sometimes, people see my tattoo (a cupcake skull and “crossbones”) they ask if I got it for him! Then, I have to go into that I am a baker. They always get a stupid look on their face, like they want to come over for dinner. They usually assume we have fancy meals and desserts all the time. It’s hard for me to get across that we eat regular food, just like them. I don’t like being put on a pedestal like that.

    The other thing: school functions. We are newer to the area and although our daughter is in 6th grade, they rarely see my husband. I get a certain look after they have seen just me with our daughter. After being a single parent for so long, I almost want to make a shirt that says, “Not a single parent, just married to a chef (he’s at work)” or something like that. Although, there is nothing wrong with single parents, it is just grating on my nerves sometimes.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      What? You don’t eat amazing pastries every night because you’re a baker? (Just kidding.) We really do eat regular food, don’t we!

      School functions are hard. We find that my husband is able to go to the mid-day functions (like conferences or kindergarten orientation), but the ones at night are hit and miss. Some nights work out and others don’t. Funny idea for the shirt! 🙂

      Reply
  7. Claudia Strange

    hey Jennifer!

    thank you so much for this awesome post. do you mind if I share it on my blog, The Chef, His Wife, Their Kids and Her Butter? you have been kind of an inspiration for me to finally get my own blog going about chef/wife life and raising a family in the restaurant business. i would love to link to your blog post to share your stories with my few but mighty readers. thank you!
    -Claudia

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Just read through all your posts!! How fun! Can’t wait to read more! 🙂

      Of course you can share. Please don’t copy/paste the whole post, but feel free to use an excerpt with a link to it. 🙂

      I’ll share about your blog on FB, Twitter and Pinterest too.

      Reply
      • Claudia Strange

        THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I appreciate the kind words. Big fan of your blog and thankful for other “sisters in the struggle” out there in the world. By struggle, I mean carefully orchestrated, organized chaos we manage on a daily basis. 🙂

        Reply
        • Jennifer

          Haha!! Glad to know I’m not the only one who feels like it’s organize chaos. 🙂

          Reply
  8. Lauren J. Cooke

    Jennifer ~

    I am so thankful to have found your website, as well as your support group on facebook. They truly help to keep my sane. Being married to a chef, as we know, can be lonely. It’s fantastic to know that I’m not really alone. THANK YOU!

    Reply
  9. Sarah

    The one I really hate is “I don’t know how you do it”. As if the life I lead is somehow inferior to that of others, and deserving of awe and/or pity.

    Reply
  10. Stacey

    Whenever I’ve thought about what it must be like to be a chef I’ve always thought, I bet the non-chef spouse has to do all of the cooking. I cook all the time at home due to our kids’ allergies and I’m ever grateful when my husband does take over. If I was a chef, it’d be taking my work home with me. I don’t know if I could do that.
    Stacey recently posted…Allergy Mom or Super Hero?My Profile

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I agree, it is nice when our husband’s (chef or not) help in the kitchen! It’s just nice to get a break.

      My husband has said before that cooking at home is so different than at work, so it’s not a big deal. But I know other chefs feel differently and never want to cook at home.
      Jennifer recently posted…The Taste Buds of a ChefMy Profile

      Reply
  11. Rose

    I laughed so much when I read this article. People always assume I get gourmet meals cooked for me every night. In fact, I think my partner has cooked for me under 5 times since we’ve been together. It’s so nice to know there are so many people in the same boat as me. My chef leaves for work at 6.30am and gets back around 1.30am (although this is usually different every night!). So most of the time Im on my own, and I am really lonely. My friends and family don’t understand how I will drop everything just to speak to him for 5 minutes on his break, but it’s these moments that make me feel we are a team and connected despite his hours. The most frustrating thing is not being able to plan anything because his days off are always different or change at the last minute. Thankfully, most of our friends have ended up being fellow chefs and partners, so they understand, but my other friends can’t get it how we can’t commit to things even a week in advance. And even when he is off work he is absolutely knackered, so I end up sitting on the sofa watching to while he is fast asleep. I want to talk to him about it, but at the same time I don’t want to make him feel guilty for working incredibly hard. And I don’t want him to think I’m not proud of him and what he does, because I am so proud. I just worry about the future, I don’t want my kids to grow up constantly missing their dad, and I’m beginning to work as a nurse in September,so I don’t know how much time we are going to get together as a couple. Sorry for the rant!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      No need to be sorry for the rant. I can relate. It’s hard to not worry about the future and what things will be like. Just take one day at a time.

      Did you know we have a closed Facebook group you can join as a chef’s girlfriend? There’s a bunch of us that can relate! Here’s the link if you are interested. 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/groups/1586875798193404/
      Jennifer recently posted…The Stress of a ChefMy Profile

      Reply
  12. Christina

    When I meet someone for the first time and we ask the usual questions back and forth, and then they find out my hubby is a chef, well that’s it, forget about me! He turns into the celebrity and then I get a whole slew of other questions about him! I’m so used to it now and actually it is a great conversation starter and makes me feel kinda cool and proud! But then I eventually burst their jealousy bubble and let them know that I do most of the cooking and rarely see him on holidays and evenings……they get a kind of aha moment.
    We definitely experience people getting nervous cooking for us, but I always tell people my hubby actually loves any meal he doesn’t have to prepare himself – he is so grateful! Food always tastes better when you don’t make it right?
    Lastly, what about talking to your chef husband!? Especially when it comes to making food?! I’m quite a good cook in the kitchen if I do say so myself and sometimes will be preparing a meal when he is actually home (many times I try to at least utilize his super speed cutting skills and amazing meat cooking skills to make large meals for the week when he’s home). Sometimes I ask his opinion on how to cook something and he gets offended when I don’t actually do it his way. He always comes at me with a line like – “No, you’re right, I only cook for a living, I wouldn’t know…..”. Or, “don’t ask if you don’t want my opinion”. But there are occasions where I am right!! And of course there are more ways to do something than just one way – sometimes I just want another option, or to confirm what I already know/believe is correct. At least he does appreciate my meals, and it feels SOOOO GOOD when he says “that was the best _______ I’ve ever had!!”
    Thank you for this blog, and as many have said, its so nice to hear from others dealing with the same issues!!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      HI Christina! I agree that our husband’s career is a great conversation starter! Everyone can talk about food and I always love the chance to set the record straight about this glamorous life we live. 🙂

      I’ll be honest, I can’t relate to talking to my husband about food. I always have a ton of questions that I never know the answers to and I’m not that great of a cook (although I’ve learned a lot in the past 19 years). I too, take advantage of him being home and he often helps prep meals for the week. This is so nice! And it saves so much time!!! I wish I could cut and prep things as fast as he can!!
      Jennifer recently posted…The Chef Wives are Talking . . .My Profile

      Reply
  13. julianaloh @bilbaobab

    I just did a post on this! I no longer get annoyed or upset and I take a deep breath and let it go. I agree that it’s mostly ignorance and lack of sensitivity but I have also met very insecure people who do it on purpose to wound with the “my husband is better than yours” childish mentality and the yay me poor you.

    I realise when you see that place of insecurity and hurt they come from, those words no longer have any power to wound. And of course mindfulness meditation has really helped me alot!
    julianaloh @bilbaobab recently posted…Married to a chef: Myths and RealityMy Profile

    Reply
  14. jamie

    I am not the wife of a chef….I am the chef in our family and believe it or not it takes a toll on me too. I really liked your blog and since my husband is the stay at home parent it gives me a little perspective into what he may be feeling….thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I would love for my husband to write a post one day about how his schedule effects his role as a husband and father. I know it’s hard on the chefs too. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      Reply
  15. John Caron

    I understand this a site for chef wives, but I’m a male chef, 27 years old, married with a young child. People don’t understand the amount of sacrifice that’s put onto the plate in front of them every night. Working 12 hour shifts in a hot kitchen is not always fun buts its driven by pure passion and determination by the people behind the line. While all of this is going on we also have to mentally deal the with fact that we’re separated from our familys on a nightly basis, during the most important times of the year. This creates massive turnover in the hospitality industry. Even driving some to the bottle or worse. It is not an easy job by any means, it is a highly skilled and labourous profession we choose, because even with all of the self sacrifice, blood and tears we put into what we do, we all realize that food is more than just food, it is art, and it is life.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Hi John! Thanks for taking the time to comment. That is so true. My husband tells me often how hard it is to be away from our family so much, even though he loves being a chef.

      Reply
  16. Heather Blasnek

    THANK YOU for creating this amazing blog! I came across it posting a funny “single woman” Velantine’s Day meme on FB with #marriedtoachef and found you. My husband is E.C. at a fine dining restaurant, and even with the ridiculous hours it is still better than when he was a resort E.C.!

    Lots of people didn’t get it, and I have a single gay friend that is my “date” while my husband is working. We actually do have a small group of “couple friends” that can work with his schedule since they and we don’t have kids, but it took 8 years to get to that point. This blog, and the people commenting, are amazing. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I can imagine a resort that is open 24 hours a day would be even crazier hours! Glad you found me. Happy Valentine’s Day!

      Reply

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