Kitchen Callings

Words and photography by  Joanna Tymkiw

I’ve never understood people that eat solely for sustenance. This is probably because my whole life has revolved around food. I’m not just speaking about fond memories of ice cream on Sundays. Nope, because every ice cream I ate as a child I can list, every family holiday has a flavour and every picture has a taste and a texture. 

From recalling the bread crumb topping of my mom’s tuna casserole flavoured lean-cuisine to family picnics that started with devilled eggs and ended with strawberries: I was obsessed with food and still am. 

So yes, I eventually hit the right of passage, also known as being a fat kid, just when I was developing hormones and complexes. Perfect. 

After university, I realized that my fixation could actually be put to use. I enrolled in culinary school and went through all the motions before I landed an apprenticeship at an award-winning restaurant. Everything there was made from scratch, and I mean everything. Including the chef’s ego, which had been ripening since childbirth because boy, was it big. 

Here I was, an optimistic blonde, chopping mirepoix with nothing but a toothy smile plastered on my face. It’s safe to say, he didn’t like me. 

When our busiest day of the year hit, so did the fate of a co-worker’s relative. As they jumped off the line and rushed to the hospital, I was plunked on it. Wide-eyed and terrified, I went to work. Trying to mimic only what I had seen the other chefs do, I took orders, tried to keep my hands from trembling, and screamed the ritualistic “YES, CHEF!” in response to each bill that came through. I was “in the weeds” and I loved it. 

By the time 2 am rolled around and the kitchen was finally clean, I still felt like I was on the best drug ever concocted. It was there I realized that I was doing what I was supposed be doing with my life and no one, not even a fat kid, could knock me over.