(Chef's) Widow of the World

Alyssa and I met through the interwebs a few years back.  Or maybe it was last year, who knows?  She is a kindred spirit and sometimes we drink wine together on facebook.  Who doesn't?  Next month I shall travel to NYC and meet her.  I am way excited however I have a feeling both of our chefs may be rolling their eyes at us more than a few times. Enjoy bitches!


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

I am Alyssa, married to Mathieu Palombino, owner/chef of Motorino in NYC.

Where is your casa & what is your jobby job?

We live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a delightful two year old son (Francesco) and a stinky kitten (Waffles).  I’m a mom first, and a somewhat unofficial assistant to Mathieu.

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

Mathieu and I have been together for 4+ years.  I’ve worked in restaurants since 15, so I’m pretty sure that every relationship preceding this one was also with someone in the industry.  Restaurants are like a big, incestuous family, it seems.

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

You know, I can’t really think of one.  I like that he works late, because it gives me some time to myself after our son goes to bed.  I like that he works on holidays, because we can opt out of attending awkward family gatherings and celebrate on our own terms.  I like that we don’t have to go out on Saturday night with everyone else in the city; we can get a reservation anywhere on quiet Monday and Tuesday.  I like when he forgets where he is and barks at me the way he barks at his sous chef… no, wait – I don’t actually like that one.

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

The passion required to be successful in the kitchen translates into a passion for life out of the kitchen.  I love that I can spend forever with someone who has such a lust for life.  Plus, he cleans the refrigerator really well.

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

That’s what I want to know.

Seriously, sometimes we just have to be happy to exist on the same planet.

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

We eat!  We eat for health, for pleasure, and sometimes for sport.  When we’re not eating food, we’re exploring it’s origins: we love to fish, and we’ve tried to catch crabs off of the pier at Coney Island; we visit dairy farms, oyster farms, goat farms, and vineyards, and come away inspired each time; we watch bakers bake and butchers… butch.  Our lives revolve around food, which may explain why our pants are always so damn tight.

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

When you keep your expectations low, it’s hard to be disappointed.

Do you cook?

I love to cook, and I do most of the cooking in our house.  It’s really important to me to teach our son how to choose fresh ingredients and use them to make a delicious meal.  At two, he’s not quite ready to appreciate this, but I’m holding out hope that he will someday.  I recently embarked on a mission to eliminate processed food from our diets.  That’s a tough one; I’m not quite ready to churn my own butter, I’m afraid.

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

I covered this extensively in a comment on a previous Chef’s Widow post, but I made the mistake of omitting the pizza and cheese course, which is akin to forgetting to thank your spouse at the Oscars.

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?

The idea that I am handling it may be up for debate, but I think we have found a balance that works… well enough.  Basically, I take care of the stuff at home, and Mathieu doesn’t complain when the laundry pile reaches the ceiling.  We’re committed to making our time together as a family really together since there is not a lot of it, and everything else can just wait a freakin’minute.  This philosophy is clearly a work in progress.

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

Mathieu is currently trying to talk his nephew out of cooking school.  While I think he would be flattered if Francesco wanted to follow in his footsteps, he has already decided that he wants Frankie to go to UCLA.  As long as he doesn’t become a lawyer, he can be whatever he wants to be.

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

Mathieu always has a few tricks up his sleeve, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing more of him soon.  With all of these restaurants, we’re going to need some dishwashers, so it may be time to expand the Palombino family, too.

Please feel free to elaborate on anything.

Anything? I would really like to see a competitive cooking show pitting the wives of chefs against the mothers of chefs, with the chefs themselves blind judging.**