I got here in April 2006. I had only been to Vancouver a couple times to visit. Didn't know anyone. Didn't have a job. Was taking a huge leap of faith that Fernando's job was going to be awesome and that I, too, would find an awesome job.
After months of selling jewelry, clothing, helping teach English to international students, I was facing a 13 HOUR boxing day shift trying to sell overpriced clothes to people with more money than taste. I'd had it.
Then I met a lovely journalism student who was trying on a sweater. We chatted about journalism and she mentioned that she was doing an internship at CTV. That day I applied, got in shortly thereafter, quit my job and worked for free for three months straight. Then I got paid freelance work. Then I got to CBC Radio where I've been an associate producer ever since. It looks simple when I'm writing it now...but that was one steep hill to climb.
This year, I'm going to be facing a whole new set of challenges and what I hope will be rewards. I've set a deadline to go to culinary school this October, so now I'm saving money, preparing scholarship applications, and biting my nails wondering if I'm doing the right thing pinning my hopes on being a food writer. I know I can write. But will anyone want to read?
I like to think that my New Year's Eve celebration is a beacon of things to come, because it was fantastic. We headed out to db Bistro: me, Fernando, his sister Fernanda (no, it's NOT normal for siblings to have the same name in Brazil...) and one of Fernando's reporters. I had just eaten there less than a month ago (there's a previous entry about this below) and had a great time. I wanted to dress up a bit for NYE. I wanted to be coddled. I wanted to eat great food. I wanted to have a great time.
It definetely was a great time. Fernando and I both opted for wine pairings with the dishes, which ensured we were totally smashed by the end of the meal. I had to pass along my last glass of port because I knew I'd end up passed out in the bathroom if I didn't.
The staff passed out noisemakers and other NYE necessities. This greatly outranked the NYE we spent in a casino where, because they don't want people to notice the passage of time, there were no clocks or anything remotely indicating when the New Year was supposed to be rung in. We ended up asking a fellow patron who informed us that it was in fact just past midnight.
The New Year was rung in. Then we were given slips to fill out as part of a draw they were doing. You could win a day with the chef in either Lumiere or db Bistro and then dinner. There would be one winner for each restaurant.
I could barely fill out my own application thanks to the wine and my general lack of coordination. Fernando said, "You know we're going to win, right?" in reference to the fact that every year at his company Christmas party for the past two years -- he's won their grand prize. The first year was a paid day off. Last year was a free trip for two to the Dominican Republic. That was, needless to say, the best prize ever.
Well, Fernando was right. Just as I noticed the draw was taking place, they announced the winner for the Lumiere prize: me. I was of course thrilled to bits.
Shortly afterwards I marched over to their kitchen to once again harass the poor head chef, Dale Mackay (see previous entry about our first encounter). It's probably not a great thing that both times we've spoken I've been drunk.
Dale, as usual, was perfectly accomodating to whatever the heck it is I said. He apparently is notified whenever their public relations person finds an online mention of him, so if he's reading this I do promise that at our next meeting I will be totally sober. The funny thing is, I hardly ever drink. He just catches me at my most celebratory.
I can't wait to spend the day in the kitchen. As I've written before, I have spent over seven hours on my feet with a recorder doing a story in one. This time I'll be an actual guest. And now I will be seeing it through the eyes of someone who wants to actually learn the functions and flow as a future potential culinary student.
I don't want to jinx myself but it does seem as though this particular plan of mine for going back to school is coming together nicely. I'm so ready to take on 2009. Here I come...
...and for my friend Devon...Happy New Year!