Returning to Canada after two and a half years was a bit of a last minute decision. I could have stayed away but for the first time I began to get truly homesick. I arrived back in Vancouver just as the summer sun was taking over from the spring rains. I knew I was going back to Scotland in the fall so I didn’t want a serious job. Instead I took part time work at the steakhouse that was my first restaurant job.
Halfway through the summer Christie offered me a few shifts at the cafe. I gladly accepted and came to work with her and Alicia once more. Both the steakhouse and the cafe were fun and relatively simple jobs compared to some of the things I had done while traveling. Perfect for a relaxed summer. It did make me realize that I needed something a bit more challenging as a full-time job.
After a few months in Scotland with my long-distance boyfriend I returned to Canada and left him behind to finish a school course. It would be six months until we would see each other again. I made the decision to throw myself into work. Both because by this point I sincerely needed the money, and I needed a distraction.
Taking my first step into the corporate world I got a job at a very busy chain restaurant. At first I was in love with it. Everything was organized, labeled, measured, and timed. I memorized the menu the way I do everything, quickly. For several months I was content and enjoying myself. Then I fell on an icy deck and hurt my wrist badly enough to need a few weeks off. Even once I came back to work I was’t 100% and I couldn’t perform my job as efficiently as I was used to. That frustrated no one more than me.
It was a winter of bad luck, just two months after injuring my arm I rolled my ankle. My co-workers and managers were all extremely understanding and helpful. Despite their support I found my enthusiasm for the job beginning to wane. It wasn’t the restaurant, the food or my co-workers. Something just didn’t feel right.
Then came the day that changed how the rest of my year would go. Christie and Alicia needed some help at the cafe so I gave up my day off to spend it with them. While we were finishing up the lunch rush one of the regulars came over and gave Christie a lead on a potential job. It was a summer catering gig, cooking three meals a day for a group of Air Cadets who were learning how to fly.
At first we both said thank you but no thank you. I had a full-time job; Christie still owned half the cafe. But the idea was in our heads now. We looked more into it. Found out that someone Christie knew had been the caterer previously. She whole-heartedly encouraged Christie to go for it. Next thing I knew I was handing in my two weeks notice and Christie was letting her partner know she wanted to be bought out.
Neither of us knew that we would get the job. We wrote a bid, submitted it, and spent a few days blissfully trying to pretend that we weren’t waiting on tenderhooks to find out if we were going to be employed for the next few months. When we found out that we had in fact won the bid it made every single moment of stress worth it.
That was the beginning of the Kitchen Party Cafe. Our first job together as a partnership. For seven years Christie and I had been bumping into each other like balloons rising in the wind. Now our strings were tied together. This was our chance to find out whether the magnetic attraction that continued to pull our lives together was the real deal or just a happy coincidence.
I am happy to say that it worked out better than we could have hoped. We are both such creative and somewhat silly individuals with an innate sense of when maturity is needed. Between the two of us we have almost two decades worth of cooking experience to draw on. Add our seemingly boundless energy and zest for life and we had a seriously good thing going on.
After our first successful gig was finished, Christie and I celebrated in style. Then we took a year and a bit off from the company that had barely begun. Christie needed to return to school to finish her business degree. Duncan and I left the Lower Mainland and headed to the Rockies for the winter. Now we are back in Vancouver and Christie is graduating next month. The time of the Kitchen Party is fast approaching…