Welcome back to my blog! I feel nervous having one because it presupposes that I’ll tell you my life story and that’s terrifying so I usually tend to keep it brief. I’d much rather we talk about food, holidays or horoscopes but I can’t fight the format. Inevitably, when we talk about what we’re eating and what (if) we’re cooking, we give people a taste of our lives, what we’re up to and how we’re feeling. So here goes!
It’s the second morning of Spring and I feel pretty great. I’m sitting on my sofa, leaning my face into the sunbeams like a cat waiting for breakfast. Mine: roasted tomatoes on toast. I have all the time in the world. Later on, I’m doing a couple of hours at a kitchen in a local artisan bakery and cafe around the corner from my house. Since I left modelling at Christmas, the plan has been to find out what I like doing (and could potentially do everyday) by getting acquainted with my interests. They’re pretty diverse but I’m starting with food. I did a food writing course at Leith’s in January and home-cooked a lot but you need to get out there and start talking to people. The world can feel smaller if you let it but there’s opportunities everywhere, maybe right on your doorstep.
It’s good to do one thing a day that scares you. That’s easy to say too, typing at a computer, languishing in the comfort of your dent in the bed. But the idea of knocking down the doors of strangers to ask for work experience and advice can feel awful. For me, this is confounded by the fact that I’ve been modelling for eight long years, in and out of school, and despite managing to scrape quite an impressive academic record by the skin of my teeth (and sanity) I sometimes feel like an absolute imposter. Do you know this feeling?
Rewind to last week: It had taken me a few hours to deliberate leaving the house to walk the long, lonely mile to the bakery and ask about getting experience. I tried to quell the idea but something inside me presented it as a challenge, or rather, a series of steps, each with herculean effort. First: shower. Wash the bed crumbs away. Second, put a face on. Dress down. Look approachable. Get your keys. I picked up my house key – I’ve not had a house key up till now, my thought process being that I could be a suitcase kid forever. But also I just never really needed it, having practically lived in London. Now, I realise how important my parent’s support is.
I sat at the foot of the stairs, key in hand, boots on, and stared at the door until I was ready to open it. Anxiety comes in a waves. By the time the scary thing happens the wave crashes and I’m on the next step of my little game. The sun came out from behind the clouds and I shot out the house, Massive Attack gently pulsing in my ear like a life support machine and the wind beating my face. Suddenly, its like, what was all the fuss about?
The most salient advice I’ve received about career shifting is to find people, not jobs. So I’m looking for people to take a chance on me. So far, I’ve found overwhelming support – advice, chats, techniques, experience, things to read, missions and wine. All are useful. A chef I knew from sixth form introduced me to the bakery – if we hadn’t have been talking about cookery books and Marco Pierre White (a mutual obsession), that opportunity wouldn’t have arisen. And now he’s a buddy.
If anyone else is going through a career shift, just need to remember that out of this network of people, be brave but gentle and listen to yourself. There’s a scared whisper telling me to run back home and do some more thinking, researching and Googling but I’ve done enough of that now. I know because there’s another voice, more firm and loving than the other, asking me what I have to lose.
[Spoiler alert – I just got back from the bakery and it was really fun!! More in my next post].
This pasta dish feels like Springtime to me. It’s colourful, fresh and you can eat it cold in the sun with a big smile on your face.
Ingredients: (makes two servings)
200g bucatini pasta
small handful of smoked almonds (about 10)
2 cloves of garlic
handful of basil leaves
40g wild rocket leaves
big drizzle of olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp lemon zest + 1 tsp lemon juice
optional garnishes: cherry tomatoes, parmesan, lemon zest
In a food processor, chop garlic, and almonds by pulsing it 4/5 times.
Add the basil and rocket and pulse a few more times.
Add the olive oil, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper then process until it’s finely chopped. A grainy texture is nice – it doesn’t have to be super smooth. The pasta will take on the saltiness so don’t worry about over seasoning your pesto.
Cook your pasta to packet instructions (though I find that al dente pasta works nicely with the rustic pesto). Toss the pasta with the pesto.
Garnish and serve. Smoked cheeses (gouda and cheddar also work really well to compliment the pesto).