You would think that three months abroad would have its roots in lots of thought and careful planning. You would be wrong, at least in this case.
It all started with a book (no surprises there). Called “Dearie”, this biography of Julia Child delighted and inspired me. I loved how she struggled to find her purpose and how, when she did, she pursued it at full tilt and blazed a trail for today’s celebrity chefs and the countless cooking shows on television.
I particularly loved the descriptions of her walking the streets of Paris to and from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. Those images arrested my imagination and tapped into a long-held desire to live and work in a foreign country.
Holiday is one thing; I longed for something more.
A week or so after finishing the book, we met with a director at our financial planning firm. Somehow we got onto the Julia topic. She looked at Rob and me and said: “So what is your next adventure?” By the time we left that meeting room 15 minutes later, it was decided: we would put our stuff in storage, go away for three months and I would go to cooking school.
That was April last year and here we are, a month and a bit away from our departure date, and just over two months away from the start of my 4-week essential skills course at the Dublin Cookery School.
Yes, I know the Irish aren’t renowned for their cooking. A Euro for every person who’s looked at me in surprise/shock/concern/confusion when I told them about Dublin would have contributed handsomely towards my course fees.
Fear not, dear friends and family members, I’m not going to spend a month learning the intricacies of Irish stew. I have other fish to fry. And that is why I wasn’t looking for a week in Tuscany or the south of France where you drink wine and cook 5 dishes. My mission was to learn, and for that I needed a hard-core cooking school with paperwork on the walls and chef’s jackets and, yes, an equipment list. (When I feel strong enough I will tell you about buying knives.)
Three other powerful motivations drove the Dublin decision: we wanted to be close to London; I didn’t want to apply for two visas; and we love Ireland.
Am I planning a career change that entails a sho’t left into the hospitality industry? No. I’m planning an adventure that will unlock some of the mysteries of food and technique for me, and let me be more competent and imaginative in my own kitchen (I was the child my mother thought would never master the stove). Food aside, I want an adventure that will feed my soul on all the levels that count. And I hope that Julia will drop in from time to time.