It's a tiring job..
It's a tiring job..
Photo by Barto

What Chefs Really Eat at Home, a (Limited) Investigation

I stalked my boyfriend--and he caught me.

For about a week, I observed his every move, taking careful notes. At first, it was a bit creepy, but then it became something out of a movie: Me a secret agent uncovering the seedy underbelly of my boyfriend's behaviors.

Then I got sloppy -- following too close, leaving notes out, etc. Perhaps, I became over confident, or maybe I just got bored.

Simply put, my boyfriend has the lamest, er rather most normal, eating habits. As the girlfriend of a chef, people always ask me what he cooks at home. At the restaurant, he would randomly surprise me and my friends with something he whipped up in the kitchen, off menu. It's like walking the red carpet for foodies.

But, we recently moved in together, and let me tell you, it's not all it's gourmeted up to be.

For the most part, with our opposing work hours, we ate our meals separately. On some occasions, we would go out and try a few places in our new neighborhood.

Maybe we were just adjusting to our new spot. But it's been a little over a month in and our kitchen still remains somewhat of a barren land.

So, what the hell does he eat?

Monday: Chinese Food He's off Mondays, but it's also his golf and hang-with-the-guys day, so we both got home late that evening, and decided to go for that Chinese delivery place that has been advertising at our complex all week (read: they left menus on our doors). On the bill: vegetable chow mein, mongolian pork, spicy orange chicken and steamed rice. He took huge helpings of the pork and chow mein, adding a ton of cayenne from our pantry.

Tuesday: Leftover Chinese Food He's also off Tuesdays and decided to repurpose the rice and pork from the night before, stir frying them together. He also added an extra egg or two and a whole lot of spice (a number of different peppers and Sriracha).

Wednesday: ??? (Details below) Thursday: Del Taco Double Cheeseburger Boyfriend had a late night catering and called me on his way home. He had stopped at Del Taco and was ordering a double cheeseburger. I'll give this one to him: For a fast-food Mexi joint, Del Taco has some good cheeseburgers, seriously.

Friday: Pizza and Garlic Knots Fridays for us old people means that we worked all week and we're dead tired and just want to eat some pizza and fall asleep on the couch. Period.

Now, Wednesday was a bit of a problem.

I searched everywhere and everything (yes, even the trashcan--it got really weird) and came up empty. At the end of the week, I tried to sneak it in a conversation, but he wasn't taking the bait. Out of frustration for my lack of real spy skills, I just yelled, "What did you eat on Wednesday!?!!"

Apparently, he had found my notes on Thursday and really thought nothing of it. "You're just weird sometimes," he said.

Wednesday: Pizza He told me he had pizza for lunch and just ate the leftover slice on his drive home.

Mystery solved

He also explained a few things, like why everything has to be so spicy.

"I like bold flavors. There's a fine balance between making spicy food you can still taste and just food that's hot," he said. "There's something great about perfectly seasoned food. With something spicy, there's little room for error." (I also think it's because after tasting things all day, bland is the worst flavor, and perhaps making it spicy is the easiest remedy.)

And why we're always eating out when he can just make delicious food at home: "It's gratifying not to have to cook your own food all the time."

Then I wanted to account for all the missing holes in his lunchtime escapades. And while his at-home eating habits are like anyone else's, he doesn't always phone in lunch.

At the restaurant, my boyfriend has instilled family meal. I love this; it's by far one of my favorite kitchen-insider, behind-the-pass concepts. Family meal is created for the kitchen staff. Every kitchen does it differently, but at in my boyfriend's, he and his cooks take turns cooking up lunch for everyone. They use ingredients that are edible but not up to standards for service, like his repurposed fried rice from Tuesday. Some guys throw together burritos or fry something up. But my boyfriend opts for healthier alternatives like a portobello mushroom sandwich, grilled chicken and stir-fry veggies.

"If I'm going to feed them, I want to give them something good to eat," he said. "It's easy to cook fried things in the kitchen. These guys work 16 to 17 hour days--a lot of them work two jobs. So, it's important they get at least one healthy meal a day."

So, as we reheat leftover pizza for breakfast, I can rest assured he's also getting at least one healthy -- and creative -- meal a day and my friends can get off my back about what amazing foods we eat at home (and ahem, stop inviting themselves over).

Case closed.

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