Chef-Wife Life

So, before I start this off properly, I am aware that the target audience for this may be niche. But some of you may be able to relate if, you have significant others that work long hours, have crazy passion for their job or work away a lot! This is not a “woe is me” post, it’s just a way to vent the frustrations of being married to the hospitality industry, because you don’t just marry a chef, you marry the whole damn sector!

There’s not many of us out there and it is not hard to see why. You chefs are hard work; the egos, the grumps, the tiredness, the stress and then the stench of your chef’s whites to endure! Those of you lucky enough to have a chef with a laundry service at work; NEVER EVER let them leave that job! Haha!

So how did this chef-wife life start? How did I end up marrying a chef who is equally as married to his career? The truth; fuck knows! There is a theory in my family that I put it out into the universe aged 8 when I announced (naively) to my parents that I wanted to marry a chef. I think I had some crazy idea that it would be glamorous to be married to a chef with endless yummy dinners cooked at home. Although this can be true at times, 90% of the time it is not the case. Then you decide to have kids and you’ve got no hope. Dinners become strictly child friendly and mostly beige!

Would I prefer my husband to have a different career if he could be just as fulfilled and just as driven? ABSOLUTELY! For anyone reading who is clueless to the workings of the hospitality and tourism industry it goes something like this:

  • You will work tirelessly all the time
  • We won’t give you days off, holidays and breaks at appropriate times
  • You WILL miss important life events (you might just make it to your own wedding and births of your children though)
  • You will feel tiredness on another level and your body will eventually ache

But for some reason they do it, happily, because they feed off the buzz of a busy service, the stress gives them some kind of high and the ego boost is life! From working in the industry, I get it and I guess this is the main reason (other than love) that I put up with the lifestyle. This must be how most chefs meet their significant others because lord knows you won’t find them anywhere other than their kitchen. In fact, the only other place you might find them is in their local kebab shop or a 24-hour supermarket finding something to eat. Crazy fact: chefs don’t eat unless absolutely necessary and always at ridiculous times. Their diets mainly consist of biscuits, coffee and supermarket sandwiches. Not having the time to cook let alone eat a proper meal is always the excuse, and it’s a pretty valid one to be fair.

Time is the most precious thing in our marriage, as it is in any marriage, but living with somebody who dedicates more time to people he has never met (and most probably will never meet) than to family and friends is strange.

Cancelling plans ’cause its Margaret’s surprise 75th birthday dinner, or not going to a mate’s stag do ’cause Dan and Callum are getting married on that weekend; we don’t know these people, we aren’t invited but their event suddenly becomes the most important thing in our lives. These people will come first more often than not and that is the nature of the job. For me this is the hardest thing about being a chef wife. Having all of the time but none of his time. Declining invites or going alone is normal (more so before the kids arrived). Hosting events on your own becomes pretty normal too; I mean Christmas is just a hoot and deserves its own feature!

Being married to a chef isn’t all doom and gloom, the discounts and freebies for our wedding is possibly the biggest benefit we’ve had so far! When he is home and has the time to cook it is amazing and tastes 100% better than anything I can produce. If he remembers where we keep the dishwasher that’s even better!

There’s often a favour to cash in, always in the form of food, trying to find the time to take advantage of it is another thing though! Nice bottles of wine appear in the cupboard or free samples turn up in the fridge, it’s the little things that can sometimes take the edge off all the hard work and stress.

I had a conversation (in person for a change) with Mr Chef-wife about the kind of person you need to be to be married to a chef. You have to be comfortable with your own company, you need to accept the fact that you WILL be in charge of the household organisation, and if you have children you will be the only adult that really knows what the hell is going on! Being married to a chef means being with somebody that can recall every single item in the fridge at work and who supplies it, but has absolutely no idea what brand of washing detergent we buy at home. It means living with a person that can make a “rough” guess at his food costs for the week and only be out by a couple of £’s, but is clueless to how much our weekly food shop costs. It means immaculate chef whites but having a “floordrobe” next to the bed.

However it also means being with somebody who is committed beyond belief, who is so driven and passionate it gives you a headache, and ultimately being with somebody who isn’t afraid to work hard at all aspects of their life. It’s whether you can keep up that matters.

If like me, you made the decision to marry a chef and it was successful then congratulations! If you have decided you want to marry a chef and are still looking, may I suggest the local takeaway and good luck. Be prepared to massage their ego regularly, let them flourish and seriously consider joining Ikea family, you WILL be buying more Billy bookcases than you thought was humanly possible (chef wives know).

Yours truthfully,
Mrs Chef-Wife Life
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This post was written by a RWL Guest BloggerJess AKA Mrs Chef-wife has 14 years under her belt of living with “Chef”. Three kids are keeping her busy and permanently tired. They document their precious family time on Instagram as @daddys_dayoff. UPDATE: Off the back of this post, Jess has now been snapped up by The Staff Canteen to write a regular blog series on chef-wife life!

Image via Skånska Matupplevelser‘s Flickr photostream.

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Discussion about this post

  1. sharon wootten says:

    Jess this is absolutely spot on. As another Chef-wife and ex-chef I can relate to this 100% and if you ever want to talk to the Chef you have to stay up really late or pray that on their day off you can actually get the conversation away from the kitchen and the incompenaces of the staff at the whole establishment not just the kitchen.
    You feel like you are part of the staff as you know everybody by name even though you have never met half of them.
    We have to have the heart of gold and the patience of a saint to cope but we do out of love for the Chef,

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