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Shift work, food obsessions, order, control, late nights, early mornings, finances… The life of a chef is very different to the life of a normal human being. Sure, other occupations bring their stresses, but there are few jobs that are so all-consuming that they become who we are and bleed into every other aspect of our lives.
It makes you wonder, about how chefs do in relationships. Having a relationship with a chef is not like having a relationship with a nine-to-fiver who can leave their job at the office and come home to perfect work-life balance. And yet there remains something irrestistable about someone who has dedicated their life to mastering the culinary arts.
The Observer asked three couples what it was like to live together with a chef and it’s a lovely snapshot of three different lives and how they navigate the peculiarities of having one half of the relationship in the chef profession.
James “Jocky” Petrie is group executive development chef for the Gordon Ramsay Group and lives with his wife Úna Palliser, a musician.
“Amy Schumer once did a stage show about being pregnant in which she said “I married a chef, because I’m a genius” and I was thinking: “That’s me!” Honestly, it changed my life. Totally,” says Úna.
Couple two are Peter Gordon and Alastair Carruthers. After a brief long-distance New Zealand to London long distance relationship the decided to live together in London.
“Guests come for dinner and they think they’re going to get my restaurant-style food,” Peter tells The Observer. “Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. When Nigella Lawson came the first time, something went wrong at one of my restaurants and I was very late home. Al had to cook.”
Couple three are Shuko Oda, co-founder of Koya and fashion designer husband Nick Hutchinson.
“Opening the first Koya was really intense for me,” says Oda. “And I guess for you too, Nick. You didn’t see me for a couple of months. I was continually doing double shifts, leaving in the early morning, coming back after midnight.”