New Year, Same Hunger

The look on my face when I get a huge quarter suckling pig for just two people. Leuca Restaurant, Summer 2017

The look on my face when I get a huge quarter suckling pig for just two people. Leuca Restaurant, Summer 2017

So many people start January with the phrase “New Year, new me”, but I would rather not do that, because I really love myself just the way I am. Don’t get me wrong, I have big goals and there is always plenty of room for improvement, but I like to take the end of the year to reflect upon my personal growth and accomplishments rather than to dwell on the negative.

My favorite weekend to date: Laura's father's Birthday extravaganza in Marblehead Mass.

My favorite weekend to date: Laura's father's Birthday extravaganza in Marblehead Mass.

I didn’t always have this attitude. Since I last wrote, (two years ago) I have been on a whirlwind adventure of private chef-dom in New York City, working alongside my best friends to grow a culinary lifestyle brand, What We Eat LLC. During this time, I have been learning and growing by leaps and bounds every single day, and can hardly believe how much I have developed since 2015.

Our Salty Sweet Olive Oil Granola launch, baking in shared kitchen Brooklyn Food Works

Our Salty Sweet Olive Oil Granola launch, baking in shared kitchen Brooklyn Food Works

I can't even begin to cover the totality of my learning experience. I have learned to set infinite clocks running in my head, thus dividing my mind, all to prepare the components of a meal on deadlines for a crowd. I have learned how to pivot when something goes wrong or use what is available (whether ingredients or creative uses of NYC kitchen space and tools) to result in an amazing final product. I have learned how to deal with people through client interface, allowing myself to fill the roles of both front and back of house. I have learned social media management, invoicing procedure, HR, menu development, recipe testing, creation of catering proposals, you name it. My biggest accomplishment was my foray into the production field, working hard enough to earn a spot on the Food Network television show, Chopped.

Literally the only photo I have of this experience. How cute.

Literally the only photo I have of this experience. How cute.

In all honesty, my absolute favorite skill that I have picked up is my expertise at grocery shopping! Every single one of us What We Eat ladies can walk into a store we have never been to before and whiz through the aisles as if by magic, plucking ingredients from shelves, all the while jamming out to our headphones. The whole ordeal only ever lasts about ten minutes. It is a feat to observe, as the store employees always do and mention without it fail, thus blossoming into new friendships.

A quick pic of what a 2 person catering shop looks likes 2016

A quick pic of what a 2 person catering shop looks likes 2016

could go on forever about the experiences I have had and the things that I have learned, but the beauty is that I have this here safe space of my own to regale and educate everyone on the inner workings and behind the scenes of being a private chef in New York City. What it all comes down to is that I learned how to grow a small culinary business first hand from the greatest mentor and friend I could wish for in a boss. Laura Geraty gave me the reins to channel all my creative energy and skill into growing her business, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity. She not only gave me my break professionally, but she became a steadfast friend who helped me to solidify all my passions and personal traits. At 26 years old, I finally feel comfortable and resolute in who I am. During high school, I was overwhelmingly unhappy and like many, never felt like I belonged. In college, I felt very alone, constantly surrounded by much older strangers with little human connection. Now I have a home, and a family. I am proud to be here in 2018.

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If I have learned only one thing from my frustrated young adulthood, it has been that feeling uncomfortable is good. I have pushed through my lowest times literally only because I was able to recognize in the moment that the bad would force me to become better. In high school, I needed to get away, so I focused all my energy on going to an amazing college in New York. While in New York, through breakups and friends who moved away, I sorted through my self-doubt by pushing myself to travel more, become my strongest and most beautiful self, attend culinary school and "make it" in my career. There were hiccups along the way no doubt, namely my battle with Cushing’s Disease that lasted for many years. However, that experience especially taught me the values of inner beauty, perseverance, and the importance of standing up for one’s self.

The Week Of Cushing's Surgery spring 2016

The Week Of Cushing's Surgery spring 2016

Somewhere while I was deep in it, everything fell into place. I went through a mental shift from the focus on garnering future happiness, to living in the moment and enjoying the journey. I can say that it was almost entirely due to the inseparably strong bonds of significant friendships that I have maintained; friends and family who live all around the world now but with whom I know no distance. My zig-zag route towards self-discovery allowed me to stumble upon people who light up my life and continue to bring the best out of me, but it is also their positivity that allowed me to get past my greatest fear. It is okay to be alone. I am awesome, so I should enjoy spending time with myself.

Breakneck Ridge Hike Fall 2017 complete with summit guided meditation

Breakneck Ridge Hike Fall 2017 complete with summit guided meditation

Due to my masochistic desire for discomfort, I made the extremely difficult decision to leave What We Eat in 2018 and forge into the unknown future. I was so happy, but also comfortable. It is time again to twiddle my thumbs, explode with anger at a cause or with passion for a topic. It is time to reflect and time to explore. It is time to recharge and formulate a plan of attack for my return to the big, bad and fast-paced New York City lifestyle.

A rare shot of the entire What We Eat Crew December 2017

A rare shot of the entire What We Eat Crew December 2017

e aspect I have had little time to focus on is writing for myself. I have not nourished the part of myself that connects each food driven experience with a prior memory a la Proust, the part of me that wants to create, photograph and share with the world anything and everything that I discover.

Opening of Copper Beech Market in LI, Summer 2016

Opening of Copper Beech Market in LI, Summer 2016

On this page, I can rant as long as I like in order to connect my stories to recipes (sorry Laura, short may be sweet but when have I ever cut to the chase?) I get to be true to myself and see where it takes me. I can do a little bit of everything. Recipes, food narratives, fitness and health progression, whatever I experience and think is worthwhile to share. Therefore, I invite you to accompany me on the next part of my journey as I take the next two months to focus on myself in beautiful Key Biscayne Miami, working part time for one of our favorite NYC clients in town. I cannot wait to share my stories and reflections on mental well-being, physical health/fitness, and the greatest love of my life- all things food. So much has changed but I’m still the same person all along, I just got to glow up. This is my place to shine. This is still my experiment and continued search for vibrancy and emotion, excitement and flavor. This is my life's ongoing project; The Yum Project.

January 2018 Bike Ride Sunset

January 2018 Bike Ride Sunset

Kristina Mellegard