Amazing People: Business Woman, Chef, Mother, Life Partner
I've decided I would try my hand at doing an interview, and since my girlfriend is such an amazing human being I decided my very first ever attempt would be with her. She is popping my interview cherry, if you will, and took the time out of her busy life to answer a few of my questions. Now, I'd like to throw my own views of Erin in here real quick, just to fluff the pillow before you really lay into it.
Erin is one of the most underappreciated, hard-working, and dedicated individuals I have ever met in my life. It doesn't matter whether it is as simple as wiping a counter, or charging head on into a storm of human conflict; she is someone you need to have standing at your back. When everyone else is folding, cashing in their chips, and taking the safe way out... Erin is there in the thick of things, digging you and herself out out of the muck, then standing atop a pedestal of self-made victory.
Enough of what I have to say, let's check out what this lovely woman has to say about her incredible self!
Before We Begin: Who Is Erin Fowler?
"I am a 41 year-old mom of a 2 year-old boy. I am on hiatus from cheffing to make money supporting my family and, hopefully, save fast enough to start up a food truck soon. I met my boyfriend, Kyler, in early 2012; he is sixteen years younger than me and right in line with all the other reckless decisions I have made in my life. Yet he inspired me to follow my dreams, come back to California, go to culinary school, do well in culinary school, and pursue my career. I made being a chef my focus for the next 6 years, but after we had our baby the money wasn’t enough and I had to put my dreams on hold so that we could get on our feet. My goal now is to save up and start a coffee truck with my own original twist. Something that will stand out even among all the competition in California."
What inspired you to get into the culinary world and become a chef?
"I believe my inspiration to cook came from my busy mom who couldn't even boil water. Starting young with boil-in-a-bag rice, I became more talented and creative by my twenties. I decided then that I wanted to be a chef but was discouraged by my boyfriend at the time, not to mention my own insecurities. So, I spent the next 10 years traveling, partying, and experiencing as much as life would dare to offer me. There were very few romantic relationships, lots of friendships, and I remained totally naive throughout my exploration; I had no idea that the future was right around the corner and that I might need to prepare for it."
What Was Life as a Chef Like?
"At first it was magical; I believed in dreams coming true. I took something I already knew how to do and fine-tuned it. I was proud. There is nothing like getting paid to do what you love, have people hand you the control, and to be able to use your creativity to make their business a success. The best part is that I succeeded, and an even better part was that no one who came in and tried to match my skill and creativity could even come close. I had the power, the control, and it felt safe and satisfying. I learned so much and it truly helped me learn how to clear out any obstacles that might come into my path."
Some of Her Delicious Work!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Her Advice for Aspiring Chefs
Start early. Start from the bottom and work your way up to the top. School is not necessary. Do not stay in one place too long. Work with good chefs and bad chefs. Cook every genre of food. 'Yes, chef,' is a thing. Show your mentors respect and you will learn how to obtain respect. Try things you’re not comfortable with and don’t beat yourself up if you fail, just learn from it and taste everything. Wait until almost the end to add salt. Do not let anyone dissuade you from your dreams!
Wanna Throw Some Advice at Employers?
"If you are a foodie with no chef experience, so you hire a chef to help run your restaurant, be prepared to give up the control. Set your standards, guidelines, theme, and vision and then let go. You will never get the best of someone if you try holding them back at every turn. A chef is an artist and food is their paint. You cannot hand them primary colors and not let them mix them up! An artist does not want to paint the same picture every day, and if you allow them the power to mold your ideas with their creativity, they will deliver your success on a silver platter. It's more of an interpersonal relationship based on trust and it needs to be mutually respected."
Even More Delciousness!Click thumbnail to view full-size
If You Could, Would You Go Back and Decide Not to Be a Chef?
"I would decide to be a chef sooner. I would walk out of any job that didn’t offer a learning experience and an opportunity to move forward. I would’ve skipped school and relied on real-life experiences."
Any Get-Rich-Quick Schemes in the Works?
"The twist I plan to put on my coffee truck idea is my secret; since it has never been done before I want to keep that under wraps until the big reveal. It's not only original, but also foolproof if I make the right decisions with money, location, and business partners. No one needs to keep their fingers crossed, and some may even want to hold their breath; I'm on the path to success!"
How Do You Balance Being a Mother and Being Career-Oriented?
"I have surrendered to the fact that nothing is about me right now. Had I surrendered to it earlier, I would probably already own my business; but it's all about patience. I have never had much patience and favored the free-spirited life, but if I’m going to get to where I need to be, I need to give up what I want for now. Me-time, sleep, the proper amount of nutrition and exercise... it's falling by the wayside more often than not, but all of that will come in abundance after this heavy push for success. Meanwhile my boyfriend takes care of my son, and I continue to plan out my road to victory!"
Final Question: Any Advice You'd Like to Give to the World?
"Teach your children what is important in life, assuming you know what is important yourself. Show them how to build credit, start early with encouraging their every curiosity and dream, and make sure that they understand people’s unfair opinions of them do not matter. Instill within them the ideal that you do not need to stress the small stuff, but to always shoot for perfection. Something I wish I had been taught was that relationships, all of them, should be supportive and symbiotic. Love is going to come and go but the one who is right for you will help you kick the rocks out from your path, not try to steer you away from the challenges that will lead you to success. The most important things a child will ever learn come from their parents and the example you set for them. Oh yeah, and school sucks but you don't have to take it so seriously that it ruins your emotional life!"
What Did I Learn From My First Interview Attempt?
Despite having enough time and ability to go back and change all of this, to rework it, and to even ask a different series of questions, I wanted this to be as rough and amateur as my skills in interviewing are. I felt that if I tried to do this better, took the time to make it better, then that would not be representative of my current skill level. This was sort of an exercise for performing an impromptu interview on someone you may never get to see again, like if you met a celebrity who you only got to chat with for a few minutes and needed to get as much info as you could.
Where I'm lacking is the foundation for the interview. There was no real structure, and I think that was the biggest problem I faced overall. I mean, in this I only had an introduction of personal commentary and now so at the end as well.
Personally, I can't stand the fluff on an interview piece, but since all major publications do a blend of conversational and professional commentary with their interview pieces I probably can't really get away with calling this an acceptable interview. Then again, I am not the only one who enjoyed the concise format and telling as it is compared to long-winded pieces with excessive commentary.
Next time I do an interview I'm going to do it more like a structured story, just like I do with investigations. Not because I prefer it that way, but because it allows for more emotionally riveting telling.