Origins of a Chef – Pivot Points

I recently listened to an episode of a podcast that discussed the idea of pivots: times in your life when something dramatic and unexpected happens, forcing you to choose which direction in which to take your life.  I can think of at least two pivot points in my culinary career.

The first was the day I was asked into the back office at the catering company in Worthington Hills.  I had been with the company for just about 6 months, and we were getting back to normal after a busy and successful holiday season. Then I was laid off.  January was a slow time of year for them, and I was lowest on the chain of seniority. 

The news was devastating, a huge blow just when things were starting to look up for me.  Looking for a way to get back to preparing food, I caught wind of a new restaurant opening up by the Hoover Reservoir in Westerville, Ohio.  I spent the next four years working there, the place where I got my first real taste of life in the kitchen (and my first experience with brick-oven pizza, but that story is for later).

The second pivot is the one I’m facing right now.  Sure, this business venture was born out of a deep sense of fulfillment that I get when sharing my culinary expertise with others, but there is another motivating factor regarding the timing of it all.

I don’t know when it happened, but at some point I tore a muscle in my dominant right shoulder.  It could’ve been slinging all those brick oven pizzas, or it may have been a freak air guitar accident (true story).  Whatever the cause, the effect was years of on-and-off pain and inflammation that would eventually make doing my job as a production cook simply unbearable.

Me, about a week after surgery.

Me, about a week after surgery.

In August 2016, I went under the knife (or whatever you call the thing they use for arthroscopic surgery).  Recovering from surgery has been a long and frustrating process.  A couple months of administrative work and light duty left me eager to get back to the kitchen, back to doing what I love and what had allowed me to build such a great reputation. Yet when I did return to my normal post, I overdid it big time – and the debilitating pain reared its ugly head once more.

It was at that point I knew that I could not expect myself to be physically able to work the way I once did – cranking out hours of prep work followed by two hours of intense service every day.  I needed to find a way to do what I love in a way that wouldn't destroy my body.

Cookin’ with Kibby is my chance to live out my passions (making great food, providing amazing hospitality, and educating others) in a manner than is more sustainable for me and is hopefully beneficial for you.

Perhaps you are facing a pivot point in your home cooking - to continue performing at the same frustrating level or to find a way to make your time in the kitchen more productive and enjoyable.  I'm here to help.  Look through my list of available sessions and start pivoting to better skills and better meals.

Jim Kuebler