Yes, I know it's been awhile, and I do apologize for that. Please don't think I have been ignoring you. It just seems that after years of hiding behind a computer screen, blogging to an oftentimes quiet and unknown realm, my creative juices finally started to wane, with any inspiration I did muster up being channeled away from this site.
I made plenty of excuses (does getting married in Malibu count?!) to conceal the truth, but in my heart I knew my fire was fading. Then, as if on cue, came the spark I needed to feed the flame. I'd always held an unspoken desire to teach cooking classes but if left to my own devices I would have never tried. So when the opportunity arose last year, I accepted. You never know if you can fly until you jump, so I decided to leap.
Looking back on that first class I just have to laugh, because boy was I shaking in my chef's coat. My standard issue Sur La Table jacket was super-sized and shapeless, just like when I played dress up in my daddy's pilot uniform, except this time it wasn't pretend. I was absolutely terrified my students wouldn't take me seriously upon their first glance!
I've taught countless classes since that awkward first day, and I can assure you that now the only jitters I get are from one-too-many Nespressos. I'm even rocking a proper fitting chef's coat, and this one hangs in all of the right places. The only thing missing is my own nagging self doubt, which, thankfully, I expunged ions ago.
So where'd this newfound confidence come from? Because teaching helped me rediscover my voice! By interacting with real faces, some familiar and some new, I remembered why I fell in love with cooking in the first place...
Each class is different yet each class the same, strangers all self-consciously chopping and mincing their way through a recipe, glancing around hoping they're doing it right. But as the wine starts to flow so does the conversation, and finally their walls begin to crumble. Teams come together, sharing in their successes and learning from their mistakes, a new bond consummated when they finally break bread.
It's amidst these real-life episodes that I hone my role as commanding officer, head cheerleader, and goofy sidekick. Together — my fearless kitchen assistants by my side — we march into another day, another battle. It's here, at the center of the action, where I thrive, doing my part to unveil a few of the great kitchen mysteries. My hope is always this: that each student walks away more confident than before, better equipped to win a lifetime of culinary battles.
And while I find great joy in watching my students learn, teaching is so much more than that to me. The truth is that I myself have a lot to learn, and with every unique experience comes a new chance to grow. Some days require every ounce of my patience, while others require me to think on my feet. I may never know how a situation might unfold, but as the leader I must strive to perform at my best.
I am telling you all this because I finally feel a renewed sense of purpose. Becoming an instructor has allowed me to recharge my batteries and gather my thoughts, and to remember why I started this blog in the first place. There are so many new ideas I want to share with you here, because the thing is, I don't want Dixie Caviar to be "just another food blog." More than anything I want Dixie Caviar to be an online community, a food-loving, party-hosting meeting of the (Southern) minds. Are you in?
I am currently in the process of moving my content to a new platform, and I cannot wait to reveal all of the exciting changes with you. (Visual recipe index, what?!) Look out for a bigger, better Dixie Caviar in the very-near future. Stay tuned, and I'll see you guys on the other side!!
XOXO, Nealey Dozier (now Thompson!)