Life as a Kitchen Widow: The True Story of Dating a Chef

Written by our newest member to the Fat Girl Food Squad Toronto team, Alexandra Cioppa!  We met Alex at our last Bloggers Brunch (rad) and since then a mutual admiration formed.  She is currently a beauty blogger at Chick Advisor and lover of all things food!  Stay tuned to more from Alex and read more about her on our Toronto Squad page.

– – –

Most of my fantasies revolve around food. I have a recurring (very sensual) dream about Anthony Bourdain that involves a pizza. I. love. to. eat. In fact, I am seriously considering a full time career as one of those people who have YouTube channels and eat on camera for money. Or they could pay me in food, I’m not picky.

Consequently, I’ve always wanted to date a chef. I always felt like my love for eating delicious things would do well with a guy whose job it was to create delicious things. I imagined that dating a chef would be like having a restaurant all to myself. He’d bring me pizza when I had bad days and homemade chicken soup when I was sick. So when I found out that the cute, bespectacled guy who had been messaging me on OKCupid was a cook, I was like ‘Um, yes please I want to go to there’.  Obviously, I locked that down.


A kitchen widow is the name given to chef’s wives who are essentially, widows, since their husbands have left them for the oven. Having a boyfriend who is a chef affords me some great things (he always knows which vegetables to pick at the grocery store) but odd hours and days off are also incredibly difficult sometimes. I’ve been there when my boyfriend has had a shitty day in the kitchen, I’ve been there when he’s smashed it out and is high on adrenaline. I’ve learned a lot in being with my boyfriend, I would even say that my entire perspective on cooks and cooking has changed. One thing I’ve learned? If you ever want to know what being a chef is really like, ask their girlfriend. Here’s chef dating 101:

#1 Chefs Eat Junk

Don’t think for a minute that all chefs turn their noses up to a Big Mac. While I am fairly certain that Grant Achatz probably thinks a Dorito is some sort of commonly worn hat in South America, most chefs love dirty ol’ Taco Bell deliciousness. My boyfriend will never turn down some greasy Chinese or a biscuit from Popeyes.

#2 Don’t Order the Salad

Salad is soooooo boring. There seems to be some idea floating around that ordering salad on a date makes you more attractive. I don’t know what asshole invented that. Chefs like to eat, I like to eat, that’s what made me perfect for him! I knew I had a good one when he was impressed that I ate tripe on our first date. Chefs are impressed with good eaters and people who appreciate food. Like Julia Child said, people who like to eat are the best people.


#3 Live Fast Die Young

Being a chef is physically hard. However, because cooking jobs aren’t treated as careers, this means they don’t earn benefits. Which in turn means that trips to the doctor are limited to limbs falling off. There’s a sense of live now, figure it out later with cooks. Not great for a planner like me who wants to figure out not only what’s she is doing 5 years from now but also 5 days from now.

#4 You’ll Never Have a Full Day Together

Odd hours mean random days off (sometimes split up) and most likely, never a weekend off together. Working nights means sometimes you’ll only ever see each other in bed. It sucks, it isn’t fun. While I love having my weekends to hang out with friends, sometimes all I want is a brunch date! You need to have strong communication to last.

#5 They’ll Always Be Tired

Quite frankly, feeling frisky only to see your boyfriend falling asleep is a total lady wood killer. It’s all about the compromise (I make him coffee and breakfast on early mornings)… and getting it in earlier.


#6 All They Want is a Home Cooked Meal

My boyfriend enjoys cooking in his spare time, I enjoy writing in my spare time. But do I want to do it all the time? Not a chance. And he doesn’t want to cook all the time either. What a cook would love is for you to cook for them. For once, they’d like to be the one being served. That being said, I’ve never cooked for my boyfriend and he can expect me to… never. This is a common occurrence in my boyfriend’s life. People are always apprehensive and nervous to cook for him.

#7 The Stress

Think of how stressful your job can be, then imagine being on your feet all day, depending on your co-workers to do your job, being hot and sweaty and hungry and then getting yelled at when you mess up. Being a chef isn’t easy. The stress gets to my boyfriend like it’s gotten to many chefs before him. Drug use and binge drinking aren’t uncommon among chefs which can become dangerous.

#8 Sometimes You Just Won’t Understand

My boyfriend once told me that they would rap his knuckles at work when he made a mistake. I looked at him quizzically, um, what? Like they would hit you? Cooking culture is old and it’s engrained with traditions (both good and bad). Every time your chef comes to you with a job issue and you suggest a solution they’ll tell you that ‘you just don’t understand’. The truth is: you probably won’t. The industry is completely different than any other. Even though I know a lot about the culture now, I’m still an outsider.

#9 I Have No Idea What a Sous-Vide Is

Well, at least I didn’t know what a sous-vide was when I first met my boyfriend. I still have to constantly pull out Google on my phone when my boyfriend turns his back to search a chef, restaurant or what a roux is.

#10 You’ll Hear Them Talk About Food More Passionately Than You

Flipping through a cookbook, my boyfriend will land on a photo of a meal and express just how ‘goddam f**king beautiful’ it is. Or, he will talk about his labels at work and how gorgeous is station is. I love my boyfriend, I just wished he drooled over me like he did a Daniel Boulud cookbook.


There came a point in my relationship, early on when all of these things suddenly hit me all at once and I panicked. I messaged my friend, asking if she thought I should end things before they got too serious. I liked this guy a lot but the challenges were stacking up. Being in any relationship is challenging though. This isn’t reserved for chef boyfriends and everyday we work to make these relationships work. The fact is, the rewards of love, memories, laughter and all that mushy stuff outweigh the bad stuff. Plus, I get really good lunches  at work which helps.


Lookin’ Good Girl: No Inhibitions Photo Shoot with Photographer Jessica Levy

Maybe you heard us hyping it, or you saw the behind the scenes photos on Instagram but the wait is finally over. Bright and early one Sunday morning back at the beginning of June Squad Leader Ama and I converted a tiny Toronto backyard into a kiddie-pool party paradise. We checked our inhibitions and most of our clothes at the door. 06_smFGFS Photographer Yuli and Squad Leader Ama – Photos by Jessica Levy

Given the opportunity to do a shoot with photographer Jessica Levy while she was in Toronto we jumped at the chance without any idea of what we wanted to. We knew it had to be fun, and sure, maybe we went a little overboard with the dollar store toys, but I promise you we had a lot of fun. I think it shows in the photos.


As Lead Photographer for Fat Girl Food Squad and a contributor to other sites around Toronto I’ve had the chance to take hundreds of photos of Ama (she’s usually my light test subject), and I haven’t seen a bad picture of her yet. I can’t speak for her, but for me this shoot and stripping down to a bathing suit, and then down to undies and tank was hard. We were just in a backyard with our wonderful photographer and a good friend of mine who I’ve known for 13 years and was playing production assistant for the day. It was still hard for me.  I’m even feeling apprehension as I write this knowing these photos will be out in the world when I hit publish.


But isn’t this why we started Fat Girl Food Squad? Sure we’re all about the food, but with a name like ours we have to own being those Fat Girls and imparting the still controversial idea that a large person can still be stunning, attractive and doesn’t need your permission to wear a bikini.

And here are some big old bodies in motion!

02_sm 03_sm

Jessica Levy is a photographer reigning from Montreal. A full time novice in biology, she loves to capture the anatomy in its most natural forms under organic conditions. She currently photographs part time for Suicide Girls and is available for contractual work. To view more from her visit her Flickr.