The first time I really fell in love was with a very talented chef.
We met each other just as the whole celebrity chef phenomenon was starting to really cook. He was just beginning to rise as some of the mega-star chefs of today such as Bobby Flay were just starting to blaze.
The restaurant world was abuzz then, and I was a small part of it. I was a server at the newly opened second restaurant of a long-time successful NYC 3-star chef. Being a perfectionist and a Betty-by-the-Book type, I was an excellent waitress and often asked to serve food critics and VIP fellow chefs.
One morning I went into the kitchen before service started and something felt different. Like some animal sense, the hairs on my arms stood up. My body vibrated. My back was to it, but I literally felt compelled to look over at the line.
There I saw the most incredible pair of hands at work. I was mesmerized for a moment. The way they touched the produce was so…intimate. So sensual.
My cheeks blushed with heat and as I looked up to see who belonged to those hands, my eyes met the sweetest almond-shaped hazel eyes.
It felt like I literally poured into him through his eyes. Time just sort of expanded and the moment felt like forever.
I gathered myself together, and just before I turned to go back out on the floor, my eyes found his lips, which had a sexy little smile dancing across their fullness.
That was it for me. My life changed course in those moments.
I fell hard that day. He had been brought in to the restaurant as sous chef, and our paths were to cross daily. I was involved with someone else at the time, though it was a dying relationship.
I literally fell under a kind of spell. I made some choices that I am not proud of today.
Chef and I began what would end up being an extremely important, passionate, ultimately heartbreaking (twice) relationship.
We were young, emotionally wounded, and both out of control and lost. But boy, did I love him.
It still makes my head swim to think of it. The story of us is epic and blog-worthy. But not today. I’m not quite ready.
When I tell you that he was the most talented of them all, of all the star chefs then and the star chefs-to-be (the ones who were behind the star chefs who have since risen to fame,) and maybe even of the current culinary stars, I am not exaggerating or talking from my entranced heart.
He was truly gifted. His food was the most flavorful, exquisitely layered food I have ever tasted, and I have had the pleasure of some incredible meals then and now.
A meal under his talents was a total body sensual experience and left you with an amazing high.
People became diehard fans, literally traveling across countries to follow him wherever he went.
Our relationship ended dramatically, not once but twice. My heart was totally shattered.
But I was gifted a love of fine dining that remains to this day.