Adding a story to my journey in Guatemala, well many things happened there and my journey brought me so many highs and lows experiences. Picking up from my blog “By Popular Vote“, it was because of that shot to the moon magazine contest win, I landed a job as a Manager in an eco-friendly hotel in Lake Atitlan, a hidden paradise by the lake. Because of the uniqueness of the hotel, all of the staff and including myself, we all had to wear different hats at work. Looking back, my work experience at the hotel was a learning process, a push your limits opportunity, discover and unleash your hidden talents moment in my career life.
While working at the hotel, I became a “chef”. How in the world I became a “Chef”? Never in my wildest dream, I thought I’ll became one. Totally, a big hat to wear. Well, the answer was that the hotel Chef left in a completely short notice, guests are coming and the hotel needs a chef. Because of the special location of the hotel, it was quite impossible to find someone to join us on board right away and take the chef position. With all the guts collected and research made, I stepped up to cook for the guests.
Do I really cook? Yes and No. Yes, I cook all the time for friends and family starting at an early age. My cooking knowledge came from my mother who taught me of her cooking techniques and recipes, my mother-in-law who shared to me some Guatemalan recipes, my international friends and fellow mothers who gave me some cooking tips and ideas, plus, my travel experiences that tempted my palate with international cuisines.. Combining all these, I developed my own cooking style and food recipes, No, I don’t have any professional cooking background, certificates, or courses I attended, nada!
Was I nervous to cook for the hotel’s guests? BIG time! It was given and will always be, I had butterflies and knots in my stomach every time I started chopping veggies. So, I tried and tested all my recipes before serving them to the guests. Luckily, I had the staff as willing volunteers to taste my food and gave their honest comments about the flavors of each recipes. I continued to experiment with local ingredients and kept all meals with organic flavors.
What did this Accidental Chef cooked? Mainly vegetarian and totally comfortable with vegan food. As I planned the menu, I thought of the guests dietary needs and limitations (if it is gluten-free, lactose intolerant, or any special diet requests, pfff). Thinking of accessible fresh produce in the nearby local market, comfort food, and how I can maximized the available spices on site. I was preparing soup blends, combining vegetables in season and my gut feel of what flavors will work together dishes. I used my humble beginnings as a source of meal ideas, thought of my childhood and then I envisioned plating a meal.
And how did the food turned out? I knew that I can’t please everybody and some will enjoy the meals and some will prefer something else. There were many good reviews that outnumbered the bad ones, which I personally took as an achievement. Not bad for an accidental Chef.
What’s next? All possibilities are out there! My time at the hotel gave me so many opportunities, and helped me unleashed hidden talents. It gave me the chance to learn new skills everyday. The possibilities are limitless. Taking them as they come, one possibility at a time.
So, I cooked with love, creativity and simplicity. Will I every step up again to cook for strangers in a similar situation. Not really, however, my willingness to help a team and make it work attitude will always be there. Will I ever share my recipes, absolutely yes! Write to me and I’ll be happy to give my 2 cents of vegetarian meal advise.