"In the beginning..."
I love that that's how the Bible starts. I love to hear stories about how something came to be, whether it's the creation story or the story behind a brand. I love wandering the streets of Boston or Philadelphia, where the story of our nation began. When I meet people who are doing inspiring things I love to ask them how they got started, what inspired them. You learn so much about a product, a place, or a person...what motivates them, touches their heart, and determines their next move.
If you really know me, you know that I'm a huge super hero fan. One of my favorites is the XMen Origins series (Of course, it doesn't hurt that Hugh Jackman always looks pretty good as the Wolverine). I'm not really into the whole comic book culture as much as the stories behind the characters. Fascinated by how the super heroes came to be, I wonder about things like how they obtained their super powers. Were they born with them? Was there an accident? A tragedy? What was the defining moment in their life that determined whether they were going to be a force for good or evil?
When I look to my origins, I look to my parents. I came from very humble beginnings, born as a refugee, raised in an immigrant household. They didn't have much, but my parents' nurturing strength and their guiding wisdom make me who I am today. They taught me that it's what's on the inside that counts. My foodie tendencies also come from my parents. My dad loves to eat well and my mom loves to cook. I just happen to love both. With the renaissance of Detroit's amazing food culture and an explosion of new restaurants, I've been privileged to taste some of the best food in the country. Two Detroit restaurants made Bon Appetit's best new restaurants list the last two years (one of which I am so proud to work for). Nevertheless, I still think my mom is one of the finest cooks I know. When she learned to make something new, she would make it over and over again until she finally thought it was perfect. That meant that we might be eating her newest obsession for like, a whole week. That's what passion looks like, and my mom passed that on to me.
I never intended to actually work in the food industry. In fact, I vowed I would never work at a restaurant. Except for a little high school stint at a donut shop (oh, and working at the university cafeteria where Tom Brady routinely dined on honey chicken wings), I managed to stay true to that vow up until two years ago. Back then I was working at a high-end retailer in Oakland County (Read: Where the $$$$ is). I was doing my best to make use of my interior design degree by selling $10,000 pieces of furniture to clients who had more money than they knew what to do with. I didn't grow up going on exotic vacations or carrying designer handbags. Needless to say, connecting with my clients and learning to speak to their needs was a bit of a struggle. Although I got along quite well with coworkers, maintained working client relationships, and even made enough sales to not be on the delinquent list, I wasn't surrounded by enough like-minded people to stay inspired, to be who I truly was. The job, the location, and the environment sucked the life out of my soul. I felt so out of place and I was desperate to leave.
To make a long story short, I gave up my full time position with commission and benefits for a part time job as a barista in Midtown Detroit. Although I felt that Detroit was my home, and ultimately, where I belonged, it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made; it changed my life forever. My body would shake and I felt physically ill with fear when I was faced with my choices. Worried about how I was going to pay rent and student loans, worried about what my friends and family would think, I was plagued with doubt and anxiety. People judged me, I know, including family and friends. You may be judging me right now for doing something so irresponsible, reckless, and maybe even selfish. I get it. I still think about it every day.
But here's the thing: not even a week into my new job, I was offered a pastry chef position at a local pub. It was a position that I hadn't sought out. A friend had recommended me, and with no credentials except a few Instagram posts, barely any experience, and a pleasant conversation with the owners, they entrusted me to make their desserts. That's when I knew I had made the right decision. That's when I was convinced that God was clearly making a path for me, and I needed to choose to walk on.
That first year after I left my relatively secure job was a roller coaster of emotions, but the highs by far outweighed the lows. I gave up security for a life worth living. Despite all the struggles that ensued, I have never been happier because I am finally surrounded by people who know my heart and nurture it; I am finally doing what I was created for. Two years in, and I just successfully managed our diner's first major catering gig. Who would have thought? There were a lot of people who put a lot of faith in me at the cafe, the pub, and now the diner. Do I still struggle with this decision? Of course! It really has been- and still is- a lesson in faith and learning to trust the One who knows my heart the most. Because He created it. Because He is ultimately my origin.