(Chef's) Widows of the World

I couldn't have asked for a better first widow of the week.  I almost pulled a Fergie after  reading this.  I've met Jackie a few times and we constantly say that we have to hang out.  We never do of course because we're married to chefs and our free time is, well, limited.  Maybe this decade... World I would like to introduce you to Chef's Widow Jackie.

Widow & Her Chef, Jackie & Ben Bebenroth

What is your name & what kind of widow are you?

Jackie Bebenroth,

Chef’s Widow to Ben, Chef/Founder of Spice of Life Caterers

Where is your casa & what is your jobby job?

We live in Broadview Hts., Ohio.  I’m assoc. creative director at an ad agency.

How long have you been in a relationship with someone in the ‘industry?’

Ben’s been cheffin’ for about 12 of the 15(!) years we’ve been together.

What is your biggest turnoff or dislike of being a Chef’s/Restaurant Widow?

When he brings the kitchen home with him. I married this really great guy named Ben, but sometimes this dude named Chef Ben (who can be kind of a dick) barrels through the door after his sixth 16-hour day….and I am forced to remind him that:

--It’s not Saturday dinner rush; quit barking at me like you’re expediting the line.

--Our 3-year old does not yet need to know that “Old McDonalds” “runs a factory farm, where the animals are pumped full of antibiotics and their mismanaged, bacteria-filled poop fills our air and water with toxins and the chickens get their beaks cut off,” which is why she’s not allowed to have a happy meal.

--If I want to hack through this watermelon with a dull paring knife, that’s my business.

--Pâté is not an appropriate pillow talk topic.

What is your favorite aspect of being a Chef’s/Restaurant Widow?

I love Ben’s food, but I love the adventures of Ben’s food even more. Ben’s food has taken me to Australia for a month (thank you J&W and Penfolds!), to Charleston for culinary school, to Miami for competitions and to Ohio’s most beautiful farms for his Plated Landscape dinners. And there’s a really good chance that Ben’s food will be taking me to New Zealand and/or Spain in the next two years!

Considering your significant other most likely works a million and one hours a week, how do you find time to keep the relationship alive?

One of the big reasons Ben has always passed on opportunities to open a restaurant is because catering hours can be family friendly. So I guess I’m one of the more fortunate widows. Except from April – October (busy season), when he spends his few hours home in his garden. And so I have to hike out through compost and hoop house to bribe him for a hot meal with a hot massage.

When you do have time together what is your favorite thing to do (besides the nasty)?

We go snowboarding every chance we get, we take the dogs foraging a lot…but mostly we just stare in awe and wonder at our two crazy kids.

Do you have any sage words of wisdom for those men or women just starting a new relationship with a Chef or Restaurant manager?

Get a hobby.

Do you cook?

I can make a mean scrambled egg.

What would your last meal/adult beverage on earth be?  Who would you eat it with?

I honestly don’t have an answer to this question, although it would definitely be al fresco with the fam…and any beverage from The Greenhouse Tavern’s cocktail menu would do me just fine.

I know that being a mother and being married to a Chef makes me insane, how do you handle balancing your family life with such a demanding work schedule of your partner?

We have what we call “planner mesh” every Sunday and decide who gets early in, who works late when, who has sitter pick up, who’s up for a hall pass. I’m also so, so lucky and grateful to have an arsenal of family and friends and sitters who help out.

If you have/had kids would you encourage them to pursue the restaurant industry as a career?

If they eat all their vegetables, they can do anything they want.

Feel free to share an awesome widow facts about yourself &/or anything you’ve got going on…blog, restaurant events, etc…

Our latest news is that Spice of Life finally has a Facebook page if anybody’s interested in the latest goings on, including farmers’ market offerings, kitchen pranks, culinary soapboxing and Plated Landscapes announcements. (Thanks for askin’.)

Please feel free to elaborate on anything.

I just wanted to say that I’ve met a lot of amazing chef’s widows over the years and, even though I hate to generalize, I have noticed a few common characteristics:

An independent spirit

A high tolerance for dish doing

An appreciation for raunchy kitchen humor

A plan for working off the 3,000 calories she ate last night

…and, of course, the ability to hold her liquor (well, at least until course six)

I respect that…and I’m happy to be part of the club. J

Would love to tell your RESTAURANT & CHEF'S WIDOW story?  I'm looking for you!