What do a celebrity, diplomat, criminal, farmer, soldier and homeless man have in common? Three things. They are all just people at the end of the day. At some point they were all hungry. And there was a moment where they were all fed at my table.
Anyone that knows me personally can tell you I am not informed when it comes to modern day celebrities. I am oblivious to what couple is getting married this spring, who the new ‘IT’ girl is or what award ceremony happened in the last couple weeks. Most of the celebrity names I can throw around are related to my field.
You hear stories all the time from people who make it big… “I saw this person doing that and I thought to myself, I want to do that too.” Over the years, as I continue to cook, there are moments when I meet or learn about someone and think to myself… “I want to cook for them.” “I want to swap stories over drinks with them.” Or “there will be a place at my table for that person any day.” These thoughts are always triggered at the most random moments.
There was the time I met Patrick Peterson (Arizona Cardinals), as generous as he is famous, on a golf course in Oahu while volunteering for the Wounded Warrior Project. The night I neglected to notice my mentor, Gustavo Villalobos paying a visit on one of the most challenging evenings of my career. A day in Catalunya when a young cook named Joan Poal patiently taught me a new skill. The afternoon I stumbled across the blog of fellow kitchen veteran, Josh Casper…
Perhaps only I think this way, but that is neither here nor there. I have noticed that I always seem to be struck by passionate, humble individuals that don’t forget their roots. This long winded introduction brings us to my first real country concert when Lee Brice and Chris Young jammed out in Hawaii in 2015. Complete with red solo cups, sweat and a few good stories in between the music.
I had been having a rough couple days and Chris Young managed to leave a lasting impression on me with an unexpected cover of “When You Say Nothing at All” reminding me of two significant women in my life, dabbing the forehead of his drummer in a playful display of support and flashing a genuine smile of satisfaction (that I imagine has seen a few late nights) upon hitting the high note at the end of “You”.
Though it may be obvious to my seasoned readers, to those newcomers, I am about to make an offer of sorts. I, Chandler Tomayko would like to cook for Chris Young. I can’t tell you his birthday or how he got his start in music. The furthest I got in my “fan” research was reading somewhere that he likes breakfast and barbecue. I had to make sure he wasn’t a vegan. It just wouldn’t work. No disrespect to those who are, I am sure y’all are nice people. I have had a few friends that were. It didn’t last. It’s not them, it’s me…to be precise it’s the lack of appreciation for bacon and steak.
I enjoy cooking for those that enjoy life and can take a moment to appreciate it. Something tells me he is that kind of man. It doesn’t hurt that he is handsome and talented. I could write an allegory of how sexy I think he is, but only other chefs would understand, so consider yourselves spared. My mother has taught me many things in my nearly 3 decades of life, one of the most important is that “if you never ask, the answer is always no.”
So as of now, I am just a woman sitting in front of a laptop, hoping that a certain man will somehow read this, so I can ask: “will you let me cook for you?”
Dear Mr. Young,
If you find a moment when your hectic work schedule allows you some free time, would you let me buy you a drink? We could swap stories and you can tell me what you like to eat. I can brainstorm a few ideas and we can plan a meal. I would be honored to cook for you and hope that you accept my invitation.
Not to overstep, but there are a few requirements…it cannot take place during the dates of Salone del Gusto, Thanksgiving or Christmas. No phones allowed. Pet peeve of mine, I make no apologies. The mix of Texas and Italy that runs through my veins has ruined the hold of modern technology over mealtime.
Keep it casual. I can dress up, but I would rather invest my efforts into the food or conversation. Pick a day, choose a time… but leave room. Food is meant to be enjoyed. People are meant to be appreciated. Food and unstructured time with company is meant to be savored.
Be yourself. Not the image of a polished singer saying rehearsed things without a hair out of place. Show up with scruff if you please, bandana wrapped around your wrist (*cough* same article as the breakfast info, just saying *cough*) as well as a stomach ready for food, drinks and laughter.
I am known for not having a filter and I hope you can hang. I serve up just as much sass as I do flavor. Also, I will probably tell you a childish joke and laugh all by my lonesome. I can’t promise you will like me. It’s a 50/50 chance… probably a 30/70 if I am shooting straight. I offer conversation and a memorable experience. However, the one guarantee I can make you, is that you won’t be left hungry.
So if any readers out there know anyone that knows anyone that can pass this along, then please share. Perhaps there will be a bit of fact to the six degrees of separation theory. If I never receive a response, I will continue to cook as I always do. Once my culinary empire is built, there will still be a table open for those on my “to-cook-for” list, including Chris Young. However, I do hope he accepts my offer before then.