How did I get here?

I left my job as executive Chef at the St. Francis Center for Renewal in the late spring of ’05.  It was a really hard thing to do, I love those nuns and I love that place, still.  But Mark was traveling all week and I was working all weekend, and that left little time for our family to be in the same place at the same time.  So, I left the sweet retreat center and didn’t work for about 6 months.  Then, as luck would have it, Mark took another job and his office was in our house!! Now, I love my husband, but this house is not and never will be big enough for the two of us to be in 24/7, so I started looking for another job.  I happened to see an ad in the paper “full time chef for sorority/fraternity at Lehigh University” and I knew that a friend was cooking at a sorority there. I called her to ask about the hours, as my kids still needed to be driven to and picked up from what seemed like 50 places a week.  She assured me, with my experience I could handle it and could even drive home between lunch and dinner to look after the kids.  So I applied and went in for my first interview.  At that time there were 2 sororities and one fraternity looking for a chef.  When asked how many of those houses I would like to interview with, I very quickly said “Just one, the boys” the thought of being in an enclosed structure with 50-80 college aged girls was enough to send me straight back into retirement.  I interviewed with, and then trial cooked for the boys of Kappa Alpha within a week. On the day I trial cooked, they forgot I was coming and I couldn’t get in the door, the kitchen was a wreck and I  walked in there thinking “what the heck are you doing here?”.  During my interviews without the KA representative, I was told this house needed “turning around”, and one step in that kitchen assured me that was a correct assessment!  I remember cooking quesadillas for lunch and chicken piccata for dinner that day.  The offer came the next day, and after a short negotiation, I took the job.  I started on January 23, 2006.  My husband thought I was nuts.  He was a Phi Kappa Psi in college and was all too familiar with frat house antics.  He also worried about my safety, which was laughable to me.  Except that after about a week on the job, a weird guy came into the kitchen and would not leave, he just stood at the sink forever, looking at me and talking about nothing.  One of my guys walked into the kitchen for coffee, and he could sense how uncomfortable I was.  He asked the weird guy what he was doing there, and we found out he was the bug man.  Then he said “well, if you’re done checking for bugs, you can leave”.  In that short exchange I felt safe, comfortable, and mostly, at home.  That’s how I got KA, and that’s how I knew I was in the right place.  People have asked me many times, “how could you have gone from working with the nuns to working at a frat house”  and the answer to that is easy- As much as I love those nuns, they never needed me as much as those boys did, still do, I hope.

Thanks, Todd for looking out for me that day.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Jeremy says:

    Awesome, Jo! Looking forward to more!


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