What does this post title and website main slogan mean to you?
To me, it means that food can help brighten your day when your feeling sad. Food had done this for me for a long time. Food not only become my best friend, but sometimes my worst enemy. Food had been there for me when I needed comfort. At the same time, food had made me guilty about myself and left me to feel ugly both inside and out.
Over time, food and I had become not just best friends again, in partnership as well. Food had shown me that I not need to indulge myself. Only to indulge other people by serving them the best tasting dish or baked treat as possible.
Here is where it all began:
Since the age of six, it had been my dream to become a chef. My greatest inspirations were the time were Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, and Masaharu Morimoto. I used to watch cooking shows with my father and I thought it was incredible to see how these chef’s can take ordinary ingredients and make it something that look so delicious to eat. I always pictured myself in the kitchen serving hot food for customers. What stopped me from having the childhood dream was my fear of burning down the kitchen. So I never thought after that moment.
It was about a year later, I made my first cake. Even though it was pre-made mix in a box, I still made it with the help of my mother with baking it. After tasting it, I’ve fallen in love with baking. The cake was a German Chocolate Cake.
After that, I never bothered to learn to cook. I wasn’t old enough to make anything else and even so, I found no interest in it.
Later on into my teens, my mother and I would constantly fight. I remember one fight was being able to learn to cook so if I ever did get married, I would be able to cook for my husband. My resentment was strong and I told her I refused to learn because I do not believe that it’s a woman’s place to act as a servant to their husband. I found this old way of thinking to be wrong and obsolete. No woman should ever cook, clean, or bear children for a man out of servitude, only out of love. This was all before I joined the LGBTQA band wagon. I forgot to mention earlier; most of the story telling is from when I was still female. I came out as transgender male when I was 25. But that I’ll get into later.
Anyways, since then I never learned. After meting the love of my life, and two years later I dropped out of college, we moved in together. My girlfriend at the time, then became fiancée after being together for 5 months (now ex-wife), didn’t bother to cook because she was either to tired from working or just wasn’t in the food. So I had to find a way to feed both of us. I was very hesitant at first, but my only option were to starve or die trying. We had very little ingredients in our refrigerator. I pretty much said fuck it and threw whatever we had together. Chicken was my main protein placed in a sautéed pan with cooking spray greasing the pan. I added salt and pepper, and then I drew a blank. I wanted to add flavor to it that was bold and different. The light bulb went off in my head and remember I had a can of Monster, you all know the energy drink, on my nightstand. I ran into my bedroom, grabbed it, and doused the chicken with the drink. I allowed it to simmer and soak up the juices. With it I made frozen vegetables with butter and a little bit of salt. After the chicken was cooked through and veggies readied, I plated it and gave it to my girlfriend. She said it was really good. For the first in a long since my first cake, I felt glory in my dish. The next day, I started self teaching myself to cook, experimenting with spices, techniques, anything I could get my hands on.
A year later, my fiancée started to lose interest in my cooking and didn’t bother with spending money for food. We went days, or at least I did, starving. Eventually, I got really sick with iron deficiency anemia. It got so bad, I started blacking out, intense nausea, and internal suffocation. I had no choice but to force feed myself to stay awake and alive. Since then, I was worst then sick. I was heart-broken. She didn’t care whether or not I died from my ailment. Eventually, our relationship made a turn for the worst when I finally come out to her as transgender. She lost interest in our relationship but still held on because she didn’t want to be alone. I got her back again for a little while after I said I wouldn’t go through transitioning. Then we got married.
Five months, I lost my dog Chicklet (Yes, named after the gum). His old age took a toll on him, and I had no choice but to put him to sleep. My depression got the worst of me and amplified my anxiety. Things were nightmarish enough at the job I was with then, but soon after May came along, I was fired. I was devastated. I lost my dog, and then my job which lead to losing our apartment, and moving into my wife’s mother’s house. We stayed there for six months while I tried to find another job and find a new place to live. I tried and tried. No one would hire me. I lost hope and faith in finding anything good in life. I’ve fallen deeper into my depression; causing me to binge eating. I ended up gaining weight and losing my will to live. I lost respect for myself and for people residing in the household. I soon after did get a job with a fabric store my sister was working for. But because we were sisters, we couldn’t work in the same location. A few days later, my parents offered my wife and I, our own apartment downstairs in the house that they were going to move into. We decided it was time to move. (I currently still live in that house.)
December came by. It was the time of year where everyone was having a Christmas party. Except me of course, being Traditional Pagan, I don’t celebrate Christmas. I celebrate Yule or known to many as the Winter Solstice. I decided for the first Yule spending in the new house, I wanted to thow a party with my friends. My best friend and I did most of the cooking. I wanted to keep it traditional and made Medieval style food. I got squeamish every time I hear the bones cracked in the chicken for my main dish, Hungarian Tart. The food came out amazing.
After one year and five months of marriage, it was coming to an end. We were constantly fighting over money and other stupid shit. She stopped coming home. She would only stop by to pick up clothes and leave. And then, she never come home again. I was worried if she was okay, or if something happened. I called several times and she never answered. It finally dawned on that she left me. I finally called her one more time to come home and we can talk what’s going on. She did come home quiet and reserved. I looked at her and knew what she wanted. I asked the question I dreaded most. Do you want to get a divorce? She nodded her head yes as tears rolled down her cheeks. My heart shattered. The only thing left I said to her wad that I did promise her in the beginning of the relationship that if she ever wanted me to let her, I would set her free. And that’s what I did. Then she slapped with a big fuck you when I asked her if she cheated on me by smiling. I was paralyzed with hurt and betrayal.
During our two years of separation, I was destroyed. My whole world was meaningless and empty. Any traces of reasoning for life to go on, no longer existed. I ran through my head that I had faced the three major traumatic events that any human being could possible encounter. Death, Job Loss, and Divorce. I couldn’t bear breathing. I felt like I was trapped in a thick gooey layer of darkness. Being smothered by endless nightmares of my torment and listening to my own inner demons laughing as they poke me with their claws. One morning I woke up realizing that it’s best to accept my fate and that find my way out. I thought over real hard and came to a rightful decision.
I was going to commit suicide. I didn’t know how yet but I was going to do it. I made my last message of Facebook and logged off my name.
My best friend and my other friend rushed to my house to stop me from doing it. Sure as shit, they succeeded in talking me out of it. They knew how much pain I was in and they promised to be there to support me in every way they can to help me through. My friends made me realized that I had a fresh start and that I had the one thing put off for my ex that I wanted to do after coming to her. I finally can become the man I was always meant to be.
Three years, I suffered and suffered. My PTSD was unbearable. Nightmares almost every night. Anxiety and panic attacks every single day. I felt worthless and completely insane. I had to find myself an outlet to escape my reality. I tried to remember what could make me happy. The only joy that I came up was when I baked the German Chocolate Cake when I was young. I went out and bought boxes of cake and brownie mix, and begin to make them. It was then I found my outlet; my therapy. Since then I used baking as way to cope with my mental illness. I love it so much that I made up games and challenges for myself.
My sister sat down with my one day, asking if she went to culinary school for baking that if I’d be willing to go with her. Knowing my little sister that she’s afraid to be around people she doesn’t know, I would do it for her in a heart beat. I said yes, I’ll go.
Culinary school was a pain in ass to get to at 8AM in the morning. It was a seven month program, so graduation wasn’t too far away. My anxiety, however, told me it would be or that it possibly not happen for me. Baking from scratch was a different ballpark from baking a box of cake mix. It was after my second practical, which was breads, did my mentor took me aside and said I had a real natural talent for baking, an error here and there, but I had a knack for it. I was astonished. It was the first ever to acknowledge that I was good at anything. A real talent in something.
I was knocked down again when I got up to the unit on cake decorating. My sister had the art skill talent for that. I tried and tried and tried. I lost my confidence again when no matter how hard I tried, I still failed at getting better. My practical went horribly. My cake fell apart in the oven. My buttercream was not taking. My decorations just plain sucked ass. I didn’t have enough time to make a new one. Despite my efforts, I passed with a D. Still, seeing that grade kill me inside. I wanted quit while I was ahead. But I couldn’t, I came to far to quit.
Five months in, the school was holding a contest for whichever class got the most attendance. My class, which is the only baking class during the day, won the contest. The prize was head chef of the school was going to teach anything with want to learn. Everyone what learn what the other culinary students were learning. We got to pick an international dish we wanted to make for each set of partners. My sister and I did a French dish called Coq Au Vine. While prepping and cooking the ingredients, I felt something in my chest that I haven’t felt for as long as I can remember. Pure happiness. The burning passion for cooking ignited within. I truly felt like a real chef. It was after plating and tasting the Coq Au Vine, the head chef told to both my sister and I that have a talent for cooking. My sister told me in secrecy that it was mostly me that did the work. Confirmed from two chefs that I had a talent for baking and for cooking. This did not feel real to me. This could not be real to me.
Last month of classes, the class and I were given our last practical before going out on externship. The test was to make our own dessert menu with a theme and four desserts that we learned through all the units and must be done in an hour. My theme was on car models. (I was a lunatic when I did this because I was still not over my ex.) I wanted to do like what I did years previous to when I make the chicken with the Monster. Go bold and unexpected. Practical day comes, and I made my desserts using flavors no one has dared to try because too much can be potent and too little could be a no-show. I was risking a lot with my final grade but having the confidence and faith back again into myself, gave me the courage to trust in my instincts. After my grade was given, I was floored. I passed with an A. My mentor was amazed by me thinking outside the box with using chocolate as an ice cream dish and making rosewater, a flavoring that can easily be messed up in recipes, flavored ice cream so perfect.
Externship went well, after trying to hunt down for one myself. My school couldn’t find a place that I could go that was close to me and that was bus accessible. (Clearly I couldn’t drive at the time.) So I found quaint candy shop that took me in for the externship. Months later, it was over and they offered me a job working there seasonal.
Graduation day was the big day. I was anxious for when I finally went up on stage to be congratulated by the school’s staff. It wasn’t until the ceremony was over that a revelation hit me like a ton of bricks. I made my childhood dream come true. I officially became a chef. Emotions were pelting me like the ocean waves crashing onto the beach.
December that same year, my ex-wife and I officially got divorced. As much it was still hurting from what she did to me, I knew in the end I became a better person that she will ever be.
Since then I’ve been working on myself to transition from female to male, I got myself a new job that I love very much, being half-way out of debt, and still burning the fiery passion for cooking and baking. My new goal for the future is have to my own bakery and catering business.
And sitting here writing my blog for you, the reader who too shares the same passion for food. This blog is for you.
This is the next step in my journey; to blog everything and anything about food and more that goes with it.
I’m sorry, how rude of me. Let me introduce myself: Hello, My name is Chef Jonathan Kruger. And I am a kitchen Goth.
I graduated from Star Career Academy in 2015. (The school is permanently close in 2016) with a certification in Professional Baking and Pastry.
My speciality in cooking is Medieval and in baking is Chocolate and Confection.
It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Follow my blog for updates.
Social Media will be posted in future blogs.