If you are a fellow foodie, I don’t need to explain to you what a foodgasm is. The gastronomes amongst you already know the sense of excitement that comes with the anticipation of trying a new dish or cuisine – whether from a market stall selling homemade eats, a funky food truck, or a Michelin-starred restaurant – and the explosion of pleasure that comes when your taste buds are aroused. Even when the appetite has been momentarily sated, a true gourmand will always hunger for more. My hobbies include breakfast, lunch and dinner and it would be fair to say that for as long as I can remember, food has dominated my life. I don’t cook but I love to eat.
My happiest and longest relationship to date is my love affair with food. Partners have come and gone in my life but food has remained a constant that rarely lets me down. Food has never sexted other women behind my back or cheated on me. Food has never tried to pressure me into having a threesome to spice things up. Food has never told me that I would be more desirable if I lost two stone (that’s 28 pounds for my American readers) or left dirty underwear and used condoms on my bedroom floor. When intercoursing with food, I have never had to fake it to protect fragile egos – the orgasmic delight relished when savouring flavours is always genuine – and involving food in sexual intercourse is guaranteed messy fun. If you haven’t yet tried an iced lolly vaginal kiss or a mint chocolate sauce blow job you should; they always seem to go down well. My relationship with food is no one night stand; it’s the real deal. A marriage of devoted fidelity and undying love.
Travelling for a year full-time, and past travels, means I have been able to sample flavourful treats from many different countries over the years. As I have made my way through a global food court, I have learned that my British palate can’t handle too much spice – a chilli in a Sri Lankan devilled chicken absolutely kicked my arse; I couldn’t speak for ten minutes after ingesting – and if I don’t know what it is, I’m not eating it (no animal eyeballs or genitalia or otherwise meat of unknown origin for me, thank you). A vegetarian for thirteen years, I used to refuse to eat anything with a face but an unexpected encounter with chicken fried rice one night (a takeaway mix up) led to me going back to the dark side. Cook me a perfect fillet steak with pepper sauce and I am yours, no questions asked. I would be a terrible vegan – my life motto is ‘Everything is better with cheese’. The diverse culinary experiences are amongst my most treasured travel memories. Living in London, I can luckily dine in restaurants that cover a gamut of cuisines but there is something quite special about being able to eat a dish in the place that it originated. Parma ham in Parma. Khinkali in Tbilisi. Oaxacan cheese in Oaxaca. Okonomiyaki in Japan. The list goes on. When you travel, don’t seek out the same restaurant chains you can eat back home. What is the point of travelling if you are going to do that? Eat local and you will find your tastiest authentic nosh.
Regular readers of my blog will already know that I have had a midlife career change from teaching to hospitality. When I left teaching in 2018 I was certain that it was time for us to part ways and I wanted to do something else. Life is too short to stay in a job you don’t enjoy. I gave myself a year off work for a much-needed rest and absolutely loved my travels. With time to think about what I wanted from life, my strengths, my goals, I knew I wanted to return to hospitality. I had done bar and restaurant work to support myself through my studies before I was a teacher and liked the social aspect of such work. I was even asked to join the management trainee programme for an upmarket seafood restaurant I worked for but I had already accepted my first teaching position and thus my career choice was made. However, watching TV programmes such as Chef’s Table, Masterchef Professionals and Great British Menu gave me an appreciation of chefs and I developed a fascination with the food artistry found within Michelin-starred restaurants. The first chef who got me excited about food was Heston Blumenthal, an inventive British chef awarded the coveted three Michelin stars. It became a dream of mine to one day work within a restaurant with a Michelin star and I’m happy to say I’ve made my dream come true.
In Italy and France, hospitality is viewed as a serious career choice but in the UK, there is snobbery about hospitality. It is often perceived as something people do until they’ve worked out what they really want to do which is a real shame, as working at Michelin level and the relentless pursuit of perfection that goes with that, is very demanding. To succeed in a Michelin-starred restaurant, you have to be dedicated, able to pay attention to detail, have excellent food and beverage knowledge and be willing to work long hours. My first fine dining job was working for Fred Sirieix (of ‘First Dates’ and ‘Million Pound Menu’ TV fame) and Chris Galvin at Galvin at Windows, a Michelin-starred French restaurant on the 28th floor of the London Hilton on Park Lane. It was surreal meeting Fred for the first time as I’ve seen him so much on TV but he was exactly as I expected: a charismatic and highly driven perfectionist. He is the king of hospitality, keen to inspire others to provide first class service. Chris Galvin is an award-winning chef with over thirty years experience. He is also one of the nicest men you could meet. My three months at Galvin were intense – there were highs and lows, laughter and tears – but not a bad way to begin my fine dining career. Working there has opened doors for me. If you have watched the latest season of Masterchef Professionals UK, you will be familiar with judge Monica Galetti and chef Ollie Dabbous who allowed three contestants to cook in his kitchen at Hide Above, the top-floor restaurant of his Michelin-starred HIDE restaurant. A few weeks ago I was offered a position at Monica’s restaurant Mere. I was also invited to do a trial shift at Cornerstone by Chef Tom Brown, awarded London Restaurant of the Year 2019 by AA Hospitality Awards. It was a tough choice but I am thrilled to be joining the team at Hide Above. When I watched the Masterchef Professionals episode featuring HIDE, I had no idea I would be working there myself a short while later. The restaurant has a beautiful interior, the largest wine list in Europe, and serves food that wows. Art on a plate. It’s an amazing opportunity and a lovely surprise to be given a position there #proud.
The main perk of working in Michelin-starred restaurants is getting to try the incredible food for free. That’s a foodie wet dream. Is eating food better than having sex? That’s a good question. Depends on what you’re eating and who you are sleeping with. Fortunately, you don’t have to go Michelin star to have a foodgasm and you don’t have to have sex with someone else to have an orgasm. Both are pleasures that make life more enjoyable and are happy experiences you can give to yourself 😉 Combine the two and that’s my idea of heaven.