I’ll confess straight away that my interest in food is rather limited. My favourite food is a traditional steak and chips, and my favourite restaurants are pubs, and not the gastro kind. I don’t spend more than £20 on dinner, and unfamiliar ways of writing menus such as welsh rarebit to describe cheese on toast intimidates me and puts me off the food.
With this in mind, going on a date with a chef was probably the scariest thing I’ve done for a long time. I know nothing about food and really struggle to appreciate ‘good food’. But as I was always taught – if you like someone, then make effort to share in their pleasures. And that is exactly what I did.
So after numerous dates, and a blossoming relationship, I’d like to share with you my top tips for how to maintain a relationship with a chef – particularly when you have absolutely no interest in food.
1. First of all, your lack of interest in food is probably because you’ve never been taught how to appreciate it. It’s the same with most things: where there is a lack of interest, there is also a lack of understanding. So my first piece of advice is to first: be honest and tell your date you have a limited experience with food and thus limited understanding, and secondly ask lots of questions about food. What inspires them about food? What style do they like to cook and why? What is the weirdest thing they’ve ever cooked/ eaten and why? Just ask as many questions as you can think of, in my experience, chefs love their profession, and therefore, they love talking about their food.
2. Ideally try to avoid a restaurant for your first date if you have to chose the location – in my experience, chef’s are fussy about the quality of food, and not worried about the price tag. But a high price tag doesn’t necessarily mean good quality food. It’s likely that your chef already knows the history of the restaurant and exactly what quality level of ingredients the chefs are using. So unless you politely ask them to choose the restaurant (and then ask them to explain every dish on the menu in simplistic terms) it’s probably best to avoid the subject until you can confess your lack of knowledge.
3. Just because it sounds fancy doesn’t mean it is fancy. The place my chef took me too for our first ‘dinner out’ date, had rarebit on the menu, but that is just another word for cheese on toast apparently (any chefs reading this will probably be insulted by my lack of knowledge, and will be able to tell you the cheese and way that it is cooked, but for simple people like me, that’s the best description). Fancy food titles doesn’t mean that the dish is going to be intimidating to eat, it may just have some extra bits on it that you aren’t used to, but is totally okay.
4. Chef’s have their own language, which mostly consists of the words ‘c***, f***, s***, bollocks etc.’ in fact, any profanity you can think of (and many you didn’t even know existed) is likely in their every day language. I learnt very quickly this doesn’t mean they’re angry all the time, or rude and insensitive, it’s just the way they express themselves, and in the kitchen it’s rather normal. So being offended is a waste of energy and you’re probably dating the wrong person if you struggle with it.
5. Don’t expect them to cook at home the way they do at work. On special occasions you may get a treat, but with the hours worked in the culinary industry, you’re much more likely going to be faced with a take away from KFC or Dominos than you are with a fully cooked meal.Unless of course you have the courage to cook for them (they’re less fussy at home, just don’t let them watch you cook it)
6. Don’t let them watch you cook. Especially if you’re like me and highly messy and disorganised in the kitchen. Chances are it’ll end in a fight, or you’ll be sat on the couch whilst they finish what you started.
7. Chef’s are fiercely loyal individuals. They expect to get as much as they give. To fall in love with a chef, you are falling in love with someone who will love you fiercely, care for you intensely, and give you everything they have. They will also expect you to be as loyal, and fierce as they are. They will push you to do and try new things, things that you didn’t ever know were possible, and you will learn the boundaries you thought you had… mostly aren’t actually limitations, and you are capable of much more.
8. Fully expect your food knowledge to grow exponentially. You’ll be given a whole new understanding and appreciation of food – if only you let them teach you. You may be like me, and have useless taste buds that can only taste two items in a dish (if I can taste carrot and coffee I can literally taste nothing else.) Or you may be able to learn to taste the subtle differences between too little and too much salt, or the difference in taste when you add the salt at different times. But if not, you’ll still be able to appreciate the difference between your favourite dish cooked really well, and to a poor quality.
9. My biggest piece of advice will always be: never forget how lucky you are to love someone like this. Because if your chef is anything like mine, you’ll be the luckiest person alive.
Let me know in the comments if you have any more tips for dating a chef!