Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SharedBliss: Chef Alekka, Owner of Give Me Some Sugar

Listening to: A great version of a great song.

Bliss: Today, I am accompanying our friend who had brain surgery to a doctor's appointment. What is bliss about this, you ask? We are going to discuss the fact that it is his meds -- and NOT further illness -- that are creating recently strange symptoms. YAY! Something that can be taken care of!

As some of you may realize, I have recently gotten involved in Facebook. If you haven't already, please join me there -- I love having the opportunity to get to know readers of blisschick even better.

Besides the chance to get to know readers better, I have also been fortunate enough to find some dear friends from way back when on Facebook. This is a strange and simultaneously wonderful experience. Strange to re-meet people who already know you so well -- or know some old version of you that still oddly applies. And wonderful for the same reasons.

My partner has gotten in touch with some of her friends from college. Chef Alekka is one of these. What a delightful surprise to meet someone from my partner's past who is the epitome of a blisschick! (Not that this is a total surprise, given my partner's own blisschickyness -- oh! a new word!)

Alekka runs her own company, Give Me Some Sugar, that provides in home cooking classes (in Chicago). She is also an adjunct pastry instructor. (Wouldn't you like to even eat the mistakes in that class!?) She also happens to be a fellow yogini and blog writer.

Note: Pay attention to the quotes on every page of Alekka's website. My favorite:

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.
--Ernastine Ulmer

Describe the PrimaryBliss of your life. How did you come to know that this was your PrimaryBliss?

Teaching/Cooking. I come from a family of teachers and instructors. My career path found me at a very early age. Both my parents worked full time jobs, so one of our chores was to cook family dinners. I took it to the next level by coming home from school and picking up our copy of The Joy Of Cooking and seeing what I could create. My mother made bread every week and we had a garden in the back yard with many vegetables at my disposal. I did attend some college, but my heart was not in my classes. During the summer between sophomore and junior years, I visited some culinary schools, and with the encouragement of both my parents, I enrolled in culinary school and did not return to college. This was by far the best decision I made for myself.

Teaching came later. I went through many facets of the culinary world: Line cooking, prep work, catering, wedding cake making and corporate jobs. When I did decide to finally teach a class, I knew that it was the right “fit” for me. So once again, I quit my corporate pastry job to start my own business.

What types of choices and sacrifices did you make to be able to craft this bliss-filled life?

One of the biggest sacrifices was time spent with family. In the beginning of my career, and even to this day, I missed out on a lot of holidays and family gatherings. I tell my budding culinary students that people eat seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

Also your social life is limited to people in the industry. We work long hours and weekends and holidays and this can burn people out quite early. You need to have a certain mind-set to maintain a healthy lifestyle and not go crazy!

Being a free-lance teacher has given me back the freedom to set my own schedule and make time for the most important thing in my life…… and friends.

How does your PrimaryBliss radiate out into the rest of your life?

I love teaching people how to cook. It is a job that I enjoy and it encompasses everything that I am.

I used to get really stressed out with certain jobs and this would carry over into my personal life. I was seeing my life as a series of “jobs” that I started and eventually hated and then ended up leaving then starting the cycle all over.

Being my own boss and making my own schedule has made me a more relaxed and confident person. Now the only person that can piss me off over a job is myself!

What are some other activities that also give you this sense of bliss? Things that make you lose track of time?

Reading a really good book. Or tracking down a favorite family recipe from my past

What is your daily or weekly spiritual practice?

YOGA!!! I used to take a really great yoga class here in Chicago, but unfortunately because of my crazy schedule I have a hard time going once a week. Any personal yoga instructor in the Chicago area can call me ASAP!

(*You can find contact information for Alekka at her website.)

What music is your bliss?

I grew up listening to all types of music. Music of all kinds was constantly on in our house. My favorite music from my past:

Pink Floyd: The Wall & Dark Side Of The Moon
Seals and Croft : Diamond Girl
Free To Be You And Me: Various Artists

My parents would put on an album after they got home from work or before they went out, back then we thought our parents were weird, looking back they were really cool.

Name books or authors/poets or people who are your bliss, who influenced your bliss.

Books: The Joy Of Cooking
Mastering The Art of French Cooking- Julia Child
Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen
People: MY MOM & DAD

What advice would you give to someone who feels they have not yet discovered their PrimaryBliss?

This is a tough one….I think people are always looking towards material things for happiness.

I had a good friend who sat me down during a time when I was really down and pointed out the following aspects of my life:
I have a great family

I have good friends who support me

I have a business that I created and I love what I am doing

It is the simple things in life that are my Bliss, plus a really good chocolate brownie!!

Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food."
-George Bernard Shaw

Early on, Alekka started acting in ways that led to the life she has now. She knew what spoke to her heart, and she made choices based on that. It may have taken her some trial and error, but before very long, Alekka had connected all the dots.

The key for her was this ability to notice and admit the error and then to start over. She kept doing this until it all clicked. She could have easily decided to stay in a corporate job, convincing herself that "okay was good enough." But she pushed her own edges and took risks.

It was like she knew that brownies, though yummy, could taste even better -- and so she added a little of this and took out a little of that.

Life and brownies -- chocolate goodness is what we're all after.


Sarah Hough said...

I wish we were all taught as kids to do what we love and not chase just the degrees that come with respect and dollars.

This has inspired me to sign up for a cake decorating class!

shinyyoga said...

lovely post, as always. and AMAZING SONG! I am so so excited as the frames plus the once singers are coming to australia for the sydney festival in January, and this little yogi got tix!! WOOHOO! XX