Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Everyone's Life tells a Story
I love to tell a story, I believe everyone has a story...your life makes a story, some share their story, some choose not to, and sadly some never get the chance. As a mother, sometimes our story gets buried in our children's story. I love to ask women to tell me of their story before they were a mother...so here's a bit of mine:
When I was very young, in the first home I grew up in, I used to stand on a bright orange toy box, that we had in our big back room off our kitchen. It was like a long, bench seat toy box with a hinged lid, and being the 70's, my mum had it painted orange! To me at the age of 2-3yrs old and upwards, it became my stage! I would stand up on it, announce my name and what I intended to sing or share with the crowd. I would call out and invite my brothers and sister, my mum, my dad, and my dog to watch me!!! "Look at me!" I'd say!
As I grew up I discovered there were two things I was really good at: talking to people (and the performing that went with that!) and playing sport. I gave all my time to both; the talking often saw me sent out of class or in detention at school! My report card consistently read that, "Jane is making satisfactory progress, however she would greatly improve if she was to concentrate on her studies and stop talking!" At least I was consistent!
As I moved through my high school years and began to think about what I would like to do for a career, my first choice was to be a PE teacher. I loved sport and played some kind of sport at least 6 days a week, as well as coaching other kids in tennis and hockey.
However, as the time got closer to making choices, it appeared that due to my average academic results, I may not get the marks needed to do PE teaching. This, combined with my frustration at children who I was already coaching, who really had no desire to learn, improve or even be there, raised a question in my mind as to whether PE teaching was really the job for me.
The only other thing I was really interested in was cooking, it had been an interest since I was about 13yrs old. I imagined that it was something I would like to attend a course on one day, something to have as a handy hobby.
Then in Year 12, with my HSC rapidly approaching, I began to wonder if maybe I could make cooking my career path. My Dad always believed, "Where there is a will, there is a way." He had some connections, and before I knew it, I spent the holidays before my HSC doing work experience in a commercial kitchen, and looking into applying for an apprenticeship as a chef.
Although I cut myself that week with a very sharp knife, (badly enough that it required stitches to two fingers!) I just loved the kitchen experience and decided that this was where I wanted to be.
I finished my HSC...let's just say I passed!!! Then, in January 1986 I began my four year apprenticeship as a chef, with a large catering company. I did this whilst attending Ryde Catering College, doing the Commercial Cookery course for two and a half years, one day a week. I loved my job, working days from 6.30am to 3.30pm Monday - Friday. I also entered into cooking competitions against other apprentices, a bit like Masterchef!
I made great friends with other apprentices both at work and at college, and new doors began to open for me. A friend Matt, who I worked with, helped me grab a second job working in an a la carte restaurant, called "Zachary's" at Terrey Hills on Friday and Saturday nights for extra experience. This then opened up a whole other world of cooking for me, it was different to catering, it was the world of the a la carte (meaning cook to order) restaurant. I loved it, the fresh produce, the varied menus, the buzz of service, the pressure of cooking to a specific time frame, the plating up and presentation, the team environment, I wanted more. Another door opened some months later, through another good friend from College, also named Matt, who knew of an opening for a second year apprentice at a top French restaurant called "Our Pleasure" in the Sydney CBD. (This Matt was a talented young apprentice, his talent was obvious and he stood out from the rest of the class at College, we became great friends...this Matt is now a household name one of Australia's leading Chef's, restauranteurs and TV celebrity Chefs, Matt Moran.) After much persistence I landed the job Matt had told me about and spent the next four years there working under chef Ron Hughes, another great talent, finishing my apprenticeship & then staying on as second chef. Over the following three years I furthered my experience, working at three other restaurants "Bilsons" Circular Quay "Faulty Bowers" Shelley Beach & "EJ's" Macquarie Street.
I retired from the restaurant world in mid 1993 to be a full time mum to Tom, and then Molly and then Jake too, my passion for food and all things cooking was supressed for a time, instead I mashed veges, made sandwich fingers, cupcakes and loved our kids!!
Now, our children are somewhat grown up and more independent, the door has again swung open for me to return, in a more flexible way, to this passion of mine, cooking. It seems I have found a way to combine my love for food and cooking, my years as a mother, teaching and nuturing, as well as my on going delight talking, performing and telling a story with people...into my new pursuit janecooks Cooking Classes!!!
I can't help but think that God knew all those years ago, as I stood on that orange toybox, that one day I would stand in my own kitchen, doing what I love in front people. That I would start by announcing my name and then teach others to cook, talking & telling stories as I went.
This weekend I am flying to Melbourne with my husband Paul to see Jamie Oliver Live on stage...I can't wait...Jamie is an inspiration to me, his energy, his passion, his love for people and for cooking & eating well... I'd love to be up there on stage with Him on his big toy box in front of such an audience....especially since the crowd that is watching him... for now anyway... is a little larger than mine!!! www.jamieoliver.com
For details on my cooking classes or this week's recipe www.janecooks.com.au