What It's Like To Date Chef Bruce Ricketts
An editor of a food journal once remarked a lot of English Lit people who want to become cooks because they love to eat, but most of them fail. Indeed, a sedentary sensibility prone to losing itself in the vast imaginary lands of books has no place in the cramped, volatile confines of a kitchen. So I did one better: I decided to date a chef. The extent of my culinary talent is a deep appreciation of the fine labors of others, and Bruce certainly has made a fine job out of his passion.
“You’re so lucky!” is a comment I hear often. “He must always cook for you at home.” Yes, I am lucky, I gush in return, but no, Bruce doesn’t always cook for me at home—he rarely is home. It does sound fun, so glamorous, to seemingly have a chef at your beck and call, but the sad truth is that chefs work harder than anybody else in the service industry, and consequently have less time for themselves and their loved ones. I didn’t know it then, but by agreeing to be Bruce’s girlfriend, I was relinquishing date nights, romantic holidays, and Valentine’s Day. Birthdays and anniversaries have to be planned around busy restaurant nights, and since he’s often too preoccupied strategizing how to best attack a peculiar ingredient, boxing in the gym to battle the obvious calorie-laden hazards of his job, or waging war, not with the kitchen’s tumult but the
Why is it worth it? It’s not just for easy access to my favorite kama toro, or outlandish dishes-in-progress we fondly call “girlfriend specials” that make it to Mecha Uma’s tasting menus. In the same way that I fell for Bruce, I have also become enchanted with being the closest witness to his creative evolution. One of the fondest memories I have of our courtship—an anecdote Bruce tells often—was automatically swatting his hand as he dunked
In the rare, precious times we are both lazing at home, I indulge in my thrilling page-turners while he watches YouTube tutorials about Japanese culinary methods—say, the traditional technique of
From the day we were set up, when he name-dropped Thomas Keller and I volleyed by eating
This story was first published in the June 2015 issue of Town&Country.