Things I Hear While Dating As a Person Who Is a Female and a Chef In 2017
Table for (usually just) one.
December 18, 2017
By Casey Rebecca Nunes | Illustration by Molly Stanard
As I swipe left for the 10,000th time on some garbage dating app, I’m fucking exhausted.
And frankly, pretty sad. Cuffing season is upon us, with its cuddling and snacking and attendance to holiday parties with lukewarm passed apps. This is nothing new, but this year in particular seems more difficult to navigate. Relationships in this business, circa 2017, seem to fall into two major categories: casual hook-ups or ride-or-dies, and there is very little actual “dating,” at least that I’ve seen. There's no real time to get to know someone over a Friday night date—because, well, I’m cooking everyone else’s dinner for their Friday night dates.
The “getting to know you” period is spaced out between all-day weekend service and my Monday-Tuesday weekend. And if there’s an emergency at work? You’d better believe that I’m canceling plans. As a result of all this, I spend a significant amount of time alone, wondering if this is how it has to be: late-night joints, too much Sichuan delivery, scribbling down dish ideas and ingredient combinations, but with no one to share my excitement and snacks. Everyone keeps saying to “keep doing me” but apparently that concept only flourishes when it’s work-related: I can work three stations at once, cauterize mandolin cuts with cayenne pepper, talk down panic attacks, and make Chinese sticky rice that'll get any Paw Paw's approval, but alas, I can't seem to find anyone who can handle my brand of woman.
But yes, Solo Sichuan aside, I steel my resolve and continue to wade into the murky dating pool on the reg. Because it’s cuffing season, and because I’m awesome, damn it. Here’s a sampling of the greatest hits:
“When are you gonna cook for me?!”
I despise this question. If I don’t un-match or disappear after hearing this, that’s the real Christmas miracle. I can make food for hundreds of strangers every day, but I truly love to feed the people that support me. That’s the reward for logging thousands of kitchen hours, getting cut, burned, and annoyed by the Yelp Elite. If I like you, you’re probably going to have to physically stop me from feeding you—unless you ask for it right off the damn bat.
Men don’t seem to understand how little time I have to myself, and what that means when I choose to spend a slice of it with someone. My closest friends sometimes don’t even understand it. I won’t say that my time is more important than anyone else’s, but I will say that it’s important to me. You don’t get to brag about me being able to cook and not accept the inconveniences that come with the perks.
“Just date someone in the industry!”
Ideally, that would be the answer, right? Someone who has the exact same schedule and understands what I’m going through. Somewhat recently, I went on a first (and only) date with a man who said he’d like to get tacos again sometime, but “maybe when I’m not so consumed with work?” LOL SEE YOU NEVER THEN. Even as a kitchen neophyte, I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t put myself through the intense day-to-day if I didn’t want to be consumed by what fascinates me and keeps me wanting more. That hasn’t been the case with men.
“You’re too ambitious.”
Bruh, Lady Macbeth was too ambitious. I think wanting more for myself than to be someone’s +1 is fairly mild in comparison to murderous political ladder-climbing. What I’ve gathered from my unfortunate experiences in dating is that most men don’t want me to be a gold-digger, but they sure as hell don’t want me to be more successful than them. Based on that, it almost seems worth being alone.
“You smell like fried meat!”
This can jokingly be seen as a bonus, but when you’re trying to put moves on someone, greasy and sweaty in elastic waist pants and a bandanna-ed top knot, it doesn’t do a lot for your confidence when they’re slowly gravitating toward someone whose morning makeup has remained flawless, due to lack of movement and central AC.
Tinder, Bumble. Etcetera. Groan. I’m definitely not the only one who’s killed time swiping in between rushes or on breaks. We all know it’s mostly useless, except for those questionable Tinder success stories. (Congrats and all that jazz). The most successful relationship I’ve gained from Tinder? An oyster shucker in New Orleans, who I met up with on Valentine’s Day—unintentionally, and only because we were both, of course, free that day. It was one of the more bizarre dating experiences, but the dude is cool AF. (Hi Jeff!)
Look, I’m dope as hell, but my dopeness and someone’s temporary appeal don’t always create a recipe for success. From now on, no matter where it originates, I need from-scratch connection, not a box mix. No shortcuts, home hacks, or quick fixes. I want something with the craftsmanship of Atelier Crenn, but the soul of a drunken 2:30am cheeseburger at Sam’s.
I want acceptance of mid-week romance and my hectic weekends. I don’t want a unicorn, no partner on a pedestal. I want a human being who understands that I want to be my best self in the kitchen.
That’s not too ambitious, right?