When I was a little girl, my grandma would let me help her in the kitchen. And by help, I mean things like lick the beaters after she whipped cold, fresh cream, or watch for cherry pits as she pitted sour cherries for pie, or sit in my booster chair in front of the oven on Thanksgiving to make sure the turkey was coming along nicely. Her kitchen was always warm and cozy and oddly enough, carpeted with a strange green and yellow pattern. As much time as she spent in that kitchen, I'm surprised now to think back on how clean that carpet actually was.
These are my first memories of food and cooking. And even though I was only three or four at the time, they are still just as strong in my mind as if they had happened last week. Up until a year ago, I had no idea how much influence these memories of my grandmother had on me and how far it would push me to go.
I've been working as a web developer/project manager for a small firm for over 8 years now. It's not what I intended to do with my life. As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian or a marine biologist. In high school, I decided I would be a writer. I started out in college studying journalism, then switched halfway through to marketing and public relations. Out of college, my first job was in PR at a non-profit organization. They also named me the webmaster. I had zero experience with HTML or image optimization for the web or any of the other fun things that make up the internet. But I quickly got the hang of it and sort of got lost in it.
Career change #1 (or does that count as 3?). I land a job as an office assistant with a small web dev agency and work my way up to where I am today; lead user interface developer. Things are looking up. I make decent money, I'm recently very happily married, I have a crazy sweet dog, a nice apartment, and we're talking about saving up to buy a house. But something is wrong. I'm not satisfied. I just don't feel fulfilled by my professional life any more. Deep down inside I know it's not what I'm meant to do, what I want to do with the rest of my life.
And I start to bake. It becomes a ritual that I spend a good portion of my weekends in the kitchen. And when there are leftovers, I bring them to work to share with coworkers, I pass them over the fence to our neighbors. And I can feel this appetite welling up in my chest when I see someone enjoy delicious food. It's not an appetite to eat the food myself, but a desire to be the one responsible for that other person's food bliss. Eating is one of the fundamental joys of life and I want to give everyone that joy.
Suddenly, baking at home is no longer enough. I want to do this for a living. At one point a coworker commented that I should have a cafe with as much stuff as I was bringing to work. He may not have been serious, but he planted the seed of an idea in my head and suddenly it's sprouting. I'm going to find someone somewhere who will hire me to work in their kitchen. I don't care where it is, or what the job is, but I have to know if this is all a mid-life crisis (in my 30's), or if this is in fact what I really want out of life.
I start combing through Craigslist job ads. My husband thinks I'm nuts. In fact, I'm pretty sure everyone I know thinks I'm nuts. And maybe I have indeed finally lost it, but I don't care. I'm going to find a way to make this happen.