Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Cook's Life: Drawing the Line

MFAH illegal photo of James Turrell

Sometimes you have to draw the line between work and life.  In whatever job albeit in a kitchen or in an office, it is probably the hardest thing to separate and or even define.

Triniti & Soma tasting
To some people they are both one and the same, I however, have the most difficult time separating the two.  For years I've found myself up really late at night unable to keep my mind off work.  In fact this blog is a direct result of my inability. When I'm with friends, family, or even my lady, I often find myself getting lost in thought about subject matter pertaining to work.  Whether it's if I need to order something by a certain date, a menu has to be finished by Tuesday, or even as little as eating something I like and having some epiphany for my next dish. I can never shut my mind off work.
my niece maddy

This inability isn't fair for my personal life, or those that are a part of it. When I first started my career, the job was everything. I'm sure it has been like this for anyone else who has had a dream and was willing to do anything to attain it.  People in our industry don't get many Holidays off. We work weekends, either early mornings or late nights.  We're on our feet all day, working quickly with a sense of finesse, living from ticket to ticket.  This is the choice we as cooks make. It may be a sacrifice of one's personal life, but who out there doesn't believe in taking the risk and doing time to reach your goals or even your dreams.

my most favorite girls
In order to separate the two, I first defined for myself... what matters most? friends & family, health, travel, and Annie. I've been really lucky that my lady understands this and that she has been patient and supportive of my career. Patience however, as we all know has its limits; even everything that matters has its limits. By reminding myself this I set the rules.

When I have my day off from work,
1.) I tell everyone before hand that I don't want to be bothered, unless it's an emergency or that something I didn't finish the day before, either way I just don't want to be distracted.
The King and I + Canada

2.) I plan my days off.  Sometimes I either pick a place to go, somewhere close, somewhere I can travel, like Austin, or Galveston. Try to eat at restaurants I haven't been to yet, or revisit those I really enjoyed. The more spontaneous the more of an adventure it becomes.

3.) Look for adventure It sounds silly and juvenile, but it's exciting. If you can't travel there is so much to do in Houston! We're so blinded by all the glamour the whole world shows us, that we don't realize how wonderful our city is!  The MFAH has soo many great works. Discovery Green always has something going on. I like the Menil exhibit. If you can't figure out what to do or where to go check out the local media. Pick up a paper! The Chronicle, Houstonia Magazine, the Houston Press, even Eater... they're wonderful resources.
4.) Get lost This is one of the most important rules to me. When I travel I like to wander, by doing so, I in many cases discover something incredible. When I'm with friends, I'm not going to lie, I love getting hammered with them, either at a bar or even concerts. I am more enamored by my friends and peers more than the booze.

5.) Commit. If I'm at work, I am there to work. I focus on what needs to get done. This level of commitment must be equal to, never less than, to whenever I am not at work. If I set the rules I have to follow them.  When it's my day off, I'm with those that matter to me most.  If I plan on going somewhere doing something, I expect obstacles, distractions, events that may hinder my progress... but that doesn't matter. I'm doing it for the things that matter to me most.

Work hard, play hard. If you can't separate or do not balance this, you can lose perspective.  Know your limits, and the limits of those around you. Never falter, put your foot down about when to work and when to be with those you love. Just draw the line.

Discovery Green: Architects of Air... or a scene from Krull
Trust me on this and check these links out. If you've never know where to start. Start here. Pick a date. Say you are going to go. Just commit.

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