The truth is I used to run my own restaurant, which is something I had always wanted to do since starting my first chefs job at 15 working in a Pub.
I worked really hard for 10-12 years putting work before myself. Giving up on sports, friends, missing birthdays, christmas’ & relationship’s.
I was trying to climb the ladder in hospitality. The thing is you can climb fast if you have the dedication. It’s very easy to get caught up in a sense of pride being the one your General Manager depends on. You want to do the extra work, extra hours, take on the extra responsibilities to impress & put yourself forward.
My GM ran a very successful business & I wanted a slice. I could see myself having a restaurant whist living above it. The money I’d save from not renting or having low rent cost, I could use to save for my own house, really set myself up.
I managed to get my first restaurant aged 25, 5 years before my target age. This is where things began to unfold for me. The work got harder, longer & I had the added pressure of an area manager on my back. I have the utmost respect for restaurant GM’s now, the hours they put in, what they give up & are forced to deal with.
I was engaged during this time.
I thought that we were happy. That she could see I was working towards a better future for the both of us. But the truth is…I wasn’t present…I wasn’t around. On my days off I didn’t want to go out I was tired, rand down, just happy to sit in my apartment upstairs waiting for the inevitable knock on my door from an employee, asking me to sort something out at work.
She did something drastic. Is she a bad person? Did I push her? I still don’t know. But she woke me up & I got out. Thank you for waking me up. Sorry it was too late.
Flash forward a year. I’m back into my passion, cooking! Working as a sous chef in an upmarket restaurant just doing my job & going home.
I was talking with my then flat mate one night, we start chatting about where we want to be…I didn’t have an answer. All I had ever wanted to be was a GM & when that fell through I didn’t have a back-up. He said “you should do a season away”. He had done 3-4 & had mentioned them a lot whilst living with me. I had skid whist at school, I really enjoyed it but never went again. Something switched & I began looking into it. I found they only lasted for months. I thought I could go out there & figure out just what I wanted to do, come back & be ready for anything.
I managed to get a job for Ski Miguel in a small village in Switzerland called Lauterbrunnen at Chalet Rosa, don’t worry I hadn’t heard of it either, but check it out, ‘Lauterbrunnen’ translates to ‘Valley of Waterfalls’. Yeah, it really is!
I had an awesome season skiing the Jungfrau & Schilthorn regions & mainly producing some really good food. Coffee in Airtime Cafe & hiking around was fantastic, the valley is beautiful & the people there are friendly. I met loads of great people from Altitude Ski School & the locals from the general area. I had already decided I was 100% going to come back for some more next year. I was sat in the Horner Bar, the only pub in Lauterbrunnen, with my good friend Bryan. He said “if your definitely going to come back next winter, why don’t you just do the summer season too?” The time between seasons is short in this part of the Alps.
I finished working for Ski Miguel & started working at Balmers Hostel in the Beer Garden for the summer. Balmers is in the town Interlaken, it’s an old privately owned hostel. Its part of the 50 Famous Hostels group. My job was to work on the outside grill in the beer garden. Much different to what I had been used to but once again it would only be for ‘4 months’. I had an unreal time at Balmers, the super crew there are great, the people passing through on their travels were fun & the whole vibe of the place was upbeat.
The beer garden was a different animal though. We would ringing cow bells, shouting names for food, taking shots, involving everyone & getting tourists to run out to the road when the William Tells parade would come passed. The owners of the beer garden Mark & Ronald know how to throw the best garden parties. They also own the Interlaken Tourist Map, which I’ve now even become a part of, that’s a must see. Check out the link.
Throughout that summer I had so many first times. Rafting with the Alpin Raft guides, Canyoning with the Outdoor Interlaken crew, even learning to make Swiss chocolate at the Funky Chocolate Club. I took up skating & spent countless days off at lake Thun. I attended a New Zealand Hangi & saw the Haka performed live, even took part in a Kiwi prayer. At one point I visited a cave where they aged cheese & learnt about fondue, great for my chefs career.
During that summer I remembered who I am.
I love interacting with people, being part of their life. I love sports, outdoor activities, adventures. This small town with the population that could fit into most football grounds back home delivered ten times over! I’ve been accepted into a group of the most laid back, coolest, free thinking people who I’ve met. I truly believe that I can be myself here & encourage anyone who feels trapped to get out discover & learn.
I was only meant to be in Switzerland for ‘4 months’, December to April. It’s now been 17 months & guess what? I’m not leaving!
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