A letter to those who have no idea what it’s really like.

February 26, 2012 in Everybody Else, Favorites, Life


a letter pic

Source: Pinterest

To the family member/new friend/co-worker/
random passerby who I just mentioned to, that I am married to a chef,

Before you answer/react/respond in the way that I KNOW you will – please let me stop you.

It’s NOT what you think it is.

I know you are about to say one of the following:

  • Wow…must be nice to have someone cook for you all the time!
  • Wow… you must eat so well at home!
  • OOH, really? Where?
  • OOH, I’ve been there! Can he give me the recipe for _______?
  • That must mean you eat for FREE!
  • Ah, you probably never go to chain restaurants, right? Only the finest places?
  • Man, you’re lucky! Sounds so glamorous!
  • He must bring food/desserts home for you all the time!
  • How do you stay so thin?
  • You must eat all organic? How do you afford all that?
  • He must be hard to cook for!
  • Oh my gosh has he/have you ever met (Insert ANY one of the chefs/cooking celebrities from The Food Network / Travel Channel/ Bravo
  • Is he any good? Good enough for (insert cooking show of your choice here)
  • Think he can hook me up the next time I’m there?

Trust me… I can go on…

I thought I’d write this letter and share that I understand why you would think all these things…I do. Truth is, the reality and what you think you know are two different things. This letter would be REALLY long if I explained them all to you, so let’s go over THREE of the reasons why your eyes twinkle when I said that I’m married to a chef to help educate you the next time this happens… (and it will.. we’re everywhere)

Shall we?

Good. Now with the most common statement mentioned…

1. Wow… must be nice to have someone cook for you all the time!

Let me start off by saying, I can see why you would think that… I really do. At the beginning of our relationship, I probably thought that same thing as well. I probably thought I was going to have this lifestyle where I no longer had cooking/shopping on my “To Do” list and could bask in the lap of luxury, with fine dining meals cooked at home all the time.


Nope. Here’s the rub….

WHY would he be home cooking for ME, when it’s his JOB to cook for YOU?

They work long hours, at Lunch and Dinner time to be there when YOU don’t want to cook. Make sense? You probably never thought of that, now did’ja? It’s okay.. TRUST me, WE significant others of restaurant people get this ALL the time. It’s why I wanted to write and clear this up.

Now it’s not all bad. Here’s how I see it as a PERK. WHEN the stars align, and I find us both home at the same time – I enjoy knowing that I’m not the ONLY one that will cook something (granted… my cooking skills are what I’ve remembered from Home Economics class in Junior High) . Unlike the men of our past generations who left the cooking to the women (please, don’t get me started on that), I enjoy knowing he knows where the pots and pans are and that he’s not banging his fork and knife on the table saying “Wheres my food? Wheres my dinner?”

*Oh yea, one more thing – When he DOES pick up said pot and/or pan.. he most likely thinks he’s in his kitchen at work and has two dishwashers standing by to clean up after him. Nope. Just little ‘ol me and I’m not getting paid $10/hour either. I wish I got paid to clean the entire contents of our kitchen, plus his precious knives that are all now located in the sink.

Another version of the most commonly used statement is…

2. Wow… you must eat SO well at home.

Again, it makes sense but no. Hopefully by now you are beginning to understand that because they’re cooking for YOU, that must mean that we are home alone most nights, figuring out what we’re making for dinner on our own. Since they usually work at LEAST a 10 hour day, the job of grocery shopping usually falls on US. Yes, it’s TRUE, there are some of us Other Halves who are as into fresh ingredients, organic and homemade as our restaurant men/women every night, but dare I say most of us are just like YOU. Regular trips to the grocery stores, quick and easy meals, clipping coupons, cereal for dinner, etc…

Unless you are one of a handful of very successful chefs, we’re most likely not rolling in the dough that you think we are and have to be budget conscious when it comes to food.

The upside – On the occasion when we have a dinner party, a cookout with family and friends…He usually says he’ll “make it nice”, which usually involves a at LEAST $90.00 piece of meat and charcuterie and cheeses I’ve never heard of – spending all day making sure that our guests really enjoy themselves. On said occasions, he will go out of his way to make sure there is enough liquor and wine to keep our guests happy and feeling good.

Oh sorry – Charcuterie (shar-cru-ter-eee) are preserved meats like salamis, prosciutto, etc. Wanted to make sure you knew what that was.


3. Wow… you’re so lucky! That must be SO exciting/ glamorous!!!

Let me tell you why I get that you think that…

We ALL have to eat. It’s a basic human need. With the advent of restaurants, places where we don’t have to cook for ourselves, we now have a CHOICE of what to eat and where to go. Having that choice means survival of the fittest (i.e. the most delicious/creative and popular) In recent years (shoot centuries!) , the allure of “THEE” place to go to eat has become high on our priority list, even if it’s just for a special occasion. Add to that the recent influx of magazines and TV shows with the topic of food and it’s specialized focus becoming the main subject, it makes sense why chefs and the whole culinary world has become like royalty these days.

*PS: And for good reason, they work damn hard but most likely that’s also something you have no idea about.

It’s become a BUZZ word. The word ‘Chef’ has now evoked the sense of luxury. Case in point – I was in the grocery store yesterday, doing the shopping because, ahem, my husbands always working, and I saw this:

Do you REALLY think a chef prepared this?

Answer: No.

But these days, anything with the word ‘chef’ and it has us… hooked, line and sinker.

That’s why I know why you think the way you do. You admire them for having the experience and knowledge to spark our taste buds. To do what you most likely cannot. We look to them as experts in their fields. We admire, read about,watch, follow and look up to them to inspire us..


It’s also a lot of pressure for them to live up to.

* And we grimace in sadness/confusion why our favorite restaurant closes… a LOT of moving pieces that has to always be tuned correctly. Not always an easy task.

Truth is it IS exciting but not for the reasons you know.

It is exciting because my husband lives his passion. He is the conductor of a large orchestra who has to have the skill and the know how to lead his players to a successful and timed performance – EVERY NIGHT. I find that SO exciting, SEXY.. even from a distance.

It’s exciting to see them succeed because that passion is contagious. They are always exhausting all their resources to bring you the best and that’s something we significant others are proud of – WE are usually their number one fans.

I hope this letter helps you choose your answer the next time someone tells you their married to someone in the restaurant industry. You’re right, It is exciting – but most likely… you have no idea what the REAL reason is.

On behalf of myself and all the Significant others of those in the Restaurant Industry, LARGE and SMALL, all over the world. In every city, town and country.

Consider yourself schooled.

Thank you for your time and energy.
With gratitude,

Kerilyn Russo
Wife of an EC, Certified Life Coach and Creator, Married to a Chef

*** Thank you to all the Other Halves that helped with the imput. It’s my mission and OBSESSION to unite and support us. Passion is Contagious, I tell ya.



A letter to those who have no idea what it’s really like.


    1. Melita Bradley says:

      That’s fantastic!

      Thank you for writing about chef’s “not rolling in the dough”. That’s one misconception so many people have when I mention my husband’s a chef – they think we’re very well off…I wish!
      And you’re right, it’s great watching them get excited in the kitchen, but it doesn’t help when our chefs want to have a “nice, little dinner party” that ends up costing us more than a night out would!

      I’m tempted to print this letter out, put it in my handbag and give it to anyone that responds in the ways you mentioned, next time I say what my husband does. 😉

      • Hey there Melita! Whew! I’m SO SO glad you resonated with it! I know every significant others parameters are different and I wanted to come from a place most of us could relate to. Oh yea, the “rolling in the dough” phenomenon… that is something that most people think.. that their making the kinds of money that celebrity chefs make. (I wish too!)

        I’m glad I’m not the only one that cringes at the thought of spending hundreds of dollars for the best meat to serve our guests at a cookout!

        YES! Do it! I wanted to make this letter something that anyone could send to those that are questioning our relationships… the “why” is he not with you at Christmas time. (DANG.. I forgot that one! Maybe I’ll revise the post.)

        Thanks again!!!!

    2. Kris Oetting says:

      Priceless. Now I can stop with my standard answer of…”He’s in customer service”

      • Hey there Kris! Thank you for your comment! I’m so glad you resonated with it! Oh yes.. now you can hand them the letter, and say with BEAMING PRIDE “My man is a chef and before you respond… read this!”

    3. Nadia says:

      Kerilyn, this is an awesome letter. I’m not married to a chef but from the Married to a Chef site I’ve gotten a much better idea of what it’s like to be partnered with one. The way you explain things in this letter really will make people understand the lifestyle better and correct their misconceptions about the job. Now I just have to think of a similar letter to write to everyone who, when they hear I work in a museum, says ‘ooh, you must get to look at beautiful objects all the time!’. 😉

      • Hey Nadia – Thank you for your wonderful comment! I’m so glad you liked the letter. You are evidence that a little understanding… goes a LONG way! Hey.. if it worked for me… it’ll definitely work for you! My thought now is… WE (collectively) have NO idea what it’s REALLY like being a celebrity. We see their lives but most likely we’re WAY off.

    4. Kristen says:

      Every chef I personally know works so hard, super long hours and is never really home for regular meals. I admire you for putting this out there and educating us! It’s much needed 🙂

    5. Harry says:

      Hey Kerilyn,

      What a GREAT Story to wake people up! I have been a Chef for 30 years and it’s really GREAT to see someone write an article like this letting folks know the “TRUTH” that goes on behind the scenes.

      Long hours and a passion for the job are a Must! And yeah… the last thing we want to do when we get home from work is jump back in the kitchen again and start cooking!

      Thanks for posting such a great article!


      • Hey Harry – Apologies for the delay! I am SO glad that you, a chef yourself, support sharing that it’s NOT what most people think it is! From my experience (and it makes sense) it seems to be a hush hush thing about sharing just how challenging it is to be a chef that the assumptions from the masses go uncorrected. It makes sense because you chefs DO work so hard that hearing how exciting and VIP the lifestyle is… is a well received compliment to all the toil that goes into it. Unfortunate thing is that it’s not exactly an accurate portrayal of life as a chef of being with a chef and that’s why I want to gently (emphasis on gently) expose what it’s really like, to reduce stress for both parties in our restaurant relationship.

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A letter to those who have no idea what it’s really like.

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