Paris, Brooklyn, and a Butterflied Chicken

After being fired at the beginning of May from my second-shift, serving gig, I decided to take a little break in the job search and focus on my day job. Working long hours and being emotionally, mentally, and verbally abused at Restaurant X was enough for the time being and I was so happy to have time to see friends and family. Plus, my two week vacation in France was coming up and I knew I couldn’t swing getting hired before then.

While the beginning of the month was hell, the end of May marked a pretty significant event in my life – my first Parisian apartment!

I am so ecstatic to have a place to call our own, since mon compagnon and I will be living together! After a long distance relationship of four years, it feels SO GOOD to finally be able to say that we will be living together indefinitely. In our cute little apartment. In Paris.

Please pinch me, I think I’m dreaming.

Also, to put an end to the debate about which city has the harshest apartment hunt, Paris trumps New York. The documentation requirements are ridiculous; it felt like we handed in books of banking information, proof of employment, all possible copies of identification cards, the list goes on. Also, while the format of the NYC subway system has it’s pros and cons, the spiderweb that is the Parisian metro will ensure that you cross the city hundreds of times per day in order to make all your apartment tours. At least it’s a good way to learn your way around, if you can keep up.

Returning to Brooklyn was a bit of a culture shock, even if I was only gone for 10 days. Returning to the land of 24/7 after a jaunt in Paris is a huge contrast. Even though Paris is bustling and busy, NYC never ceases to stop – notevenonebit. In an attempt to slow things down, my roommate and I invited a few friends over for a girl’s dinner party on Sunday.

I’ve been a huge fan of Food52 since it’s creation (Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs are incredible role models) and I decided to make a Roasted Butterflied Chicken with Cardamom and Yogurt with a side of Mujaddara with Spiced Yogurt from their site. Yes, a lot of yogurt but it was delicious and the yogurt married the two dishes very well. Click on over to my Recent Recipe page to see my adaptation of the recipes.

PS – If anyone would like more information about apartment hunting in Paris, I’d be more than happy to write a post dedicated to the process.

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I Just Got Fired…!

This past Thursday, I walked into work, preparing myself for a brutal verbal lashing from Restaurant X’s owner, as he’d been abusively calling me out for every small mistake with alcohol-laden breath and a small dog complex. I had to let him know that I will be traveling soon and he was entirely dismissive, shooed me away, and then called me back to tell me that I was no longer needed. Getting fired by the man who claims he never fires people. I guess he can’t say that anymore!

At first, I was so upset. Not because I loved that job; not because I cared what he thought; not because I enjoyed working as a waitress. But because I was so focused on my goal and felt so beaten down, working crazy long hours, and trying to make enough money to fund my dreams. I started to cry as I walked home, always abiding by my rule, “Never let them see you cry.”

Then, when I realized that I could go home and get to bed early that night, I was relieved! So glad to be out of that mess. My first time being fired and I could not be more elated. And now the search begins again…

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“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Churchill

Culinary school is $$$, people! So, I’m trying to make ends meet and have gotten a server job at Restaurant X. Working 7 days a week, some 16 hour days, working for an abusive little man. Apparently, I can’t do anything right, cannot move fast enough, that I am incompetent. “You always look nervous.” Well, yeah, you’d be nervous, too, if some mini pitbull of a man was barking down your neck and threatening to eat your ears off.

Talk about soul crushing.

I’m super exhausted but want to do the running-man dance. I’m so excited for the future! It’s so hard to keep a positive attitude. I feel like I’m having mood swings every other minute: tired, happy, pissed off, elated, zZzZzZzZzZ. But I am practicing yoga as much as possible, trying to keep a positive attitude about life. I just got a bonus at day job, that makes me feel awesome! I also feel like I am living a double-life: one cushy cubicle day job, one grueling night job.

Lesson: if you want something really bad, go and get it. If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.

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Here We Go!

Remember how I mentioned that I was applying to culinary schools? Well….I received my acceptance letter from Ferrandi – French Culinary School of the Arts – last week. I am thrilled! Classes will start in September and I am completely ready for a new, fresh start. I am also very ready to commit myself to this grueling profession because it brings me great joy. And no matter how hard something is, if you love it, it will always bring happiness. At least, that’s what they say…

Of course, with this acceptance letter and move comes the winds of change and all the baggage with it. I am trying my hardest to be graceful and compassionate. Change is not an easy thing, for everyone involved.

I’ve been reading a fellow Charlottesvillian’s blog – http://lilablog.com/ – she has many great insights into meditation and yoga practice. I’ve been going to yoga a lot lately and I feel much better for it. I really did miss yoga and must find a place to practice in Paris, or at least make a space in our future apartment where I can practice.

Frances’ blog has also inspired me to make soup tonight – Sweet and Spicy Spring Soup. Soup for the soul. Thank you, Franny, for the beautiful recipe!

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School Tours: The French Culinary Institute and the Culinary Institute of America

I’ve been reaching out to a lot of my previous employers, chefs, bakers, business owners, who I worked with in the kitchen wayyy back when, in high school. It’s been so nice to hear their voices, listen to their advice, and have a bit of their perspective. We’ve been talking a lot about apprenticeships versus cooking school and I feel as though cooking school would be the best option for me at the moment. I haven’t been in a professional kitchen in at least five years and don’t have the confidence to move to another country and start knocking on chef’s doors to ask if I can be their apprentice. So, I’ve started researching schools and have begun touring a few schools in New York to get a better feel of what it is like to be in that environment.

So, last weekend we took a road trip up the Hudson River and spent time driving the back roads around Red Hook, Hyde Park, and Rhinebeck. On our way back down to the city, we stopped in to the Culinary Institute of America because we wanted to find a picnic table to eat our lunch. I spoke with two of the students sitting nearby and they encouraged us to walk around the school’s main building. Gorgeous. What an exquisite setting. We all felt like we were in Harry Potter and had been whisked away to Hogwarts. I cannot tell you how inspired this place made me feel and how thrilled I was to see the big kitchens, albeit empty, but I could imagine all the hustle and bustle when the students filled the hallways.

Then, last night, I went to tour the French Culinary Institute, also known as the International Culinary Center, on Broadway. It was so much fun to be in the middle of SoHo, shuffling through beautiful stainless steel kitchens, watching students meticulously measure water in their International Bread Baking courses, watching the chefs give students instructions, and seeing everyone dressed in chef whites. I’m so excited at the prospect of starting cooking school!

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A New Beginning

A lot has happened since the last time I touched this blog. I moved back to the United States, graduated from university, got a job in a consulting firm in New York City, and moved into a cozy apartment in Brooklyn. One would be inclined to imagine that I’d be the happiest girl in the world. I’m damn lucky. But my consulting job is not turning out to be what I had imagined; the man I love lives 5,000 miles away. I’ve been extinguished, suffocated, tarnished. I’ve lost my lackluster. So, my next challenge in life is to slowly, methodically, responsibly, and thoughtfully regain my passion for life and start by doing the first thing I ever loved in life: cooking.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” This has always been an inspirational piece of advance and now, more than ever, I need to follow it. Cooking may not seem like a scary task but, in my case, I am looking for a full career change, leaving my life in New York, leaving a beautiful apartment with an amazing roommate, leaving a secure job, and moving to France to rediscover my joie de vivre. It’s a scary leap.

This blog has chronicled my life in France and now it will chronicle my attempt to return.

Let’s see how this goes!

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Please Take a First Aid Course This Month!

Dear readers,

Exactly one year ago, on May 14th, a beautiful woman’s life was saved because of CPR.

Do you know CPR? Would you be able to react quickly and efficiently in a time of need?

If not, and even if you do, I highly encourage you to visit your local Red Cross chapter, or anywhere that provides First Aid courses, and take a class. Knowing how to preform First Aid is one of the most important skills you may ever possess. You might be able to save someone’s life.

Love,

Lise, (Suzanne, and Catherine)

- The link above is a CPR guide provided by the University of Washington School of Medicine. If you do not have the opportunity to take a class, please at least click on the link above and refresh your memory. –

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