Sunflower Field

One week before my birthday last year I had a very memorable dream. So memorable I haven’t forgotten it. I was standing in front of a beautiful field of sunflowers and admiring the delicate but strong flowers they are with their thick stall leading to the big round head they have that makes it almost sound funny. But then you stop and take a really deep look at them and there they are: yellow like gold, following the sunlight like there is nothing else on their way, all they have and all they want is right there above them, and all they have to do is follow it.

So I was there, asking my dad what was all that about. Why did he decide to grow sunflowers all of a sudden? It took me straight to when I was four years old and I have this very clear memory of running round a sunflower field playing with my brothers of hide and seek. The flowers were so much taller than me that I couldn’t see a thing so I would just stay still waiting on them to find me. It could have been one of the best days of my life and I didn’t know.

One week before my birthday last year I woke up crying and I didn’t know if it was out of joy or sadness. I instantly reminded the dream. I looked at the field, I looked at my dad and I asked who that field was for. He looked deep into my eyes, held my both arms and smiled with his lightly wrinkled eyes and his spaced front teeth. Then he said: all this is for you my daughter, happy birthday.

Suddenly I realized that I was the sunflower field. That I was the field and all I needed was to follow my dreams and nothing else, no one else, with nobody on my way. The gift that my dad gave me that night on that dream was called freedom, was called choice, was called wings.

The Irish Man

It was another day in the kitchen, but only my second day on the larder section because they needed someone to give them a hand, I don’t even remember why. Suddenly, out of the blue, this guy (that I have never spoken to before, just seen him walking round the staff area) walks in on the middle of service while I was platting a steak tartar, and asks – are you Sophia?

Quickly I looked up and I saw him, with his long perfectly shaped beard, a long straight hair that every girl would wish to have it naturally like that and wearing the management blue suit. I answered – yes. He immediately changed his frowned face and said he had heard I was very creative and good with flavour combinations and he wondered if I could help him out on creating a couple of cocktail garnishes for some drinks he had created to present in France.

Between the chef calling on tickets and me plating dishes, I asked him to tell me more about the cocktails, and he did. Within what I think was about two minutes in real time (I’ll tell you more about chef time later), I suggested an edible rose petal garnish and he just said it was a great idea. Next thing I see is two bartenders running around and asking me how to get it done and where to get the ingredients because he needed 80 portions of it for the flight he was taking two days after.

Ever since then I started thinking about my interest on cocktails and how I never got to work at a bar, a dream I’ve always had. After a while I started getting closer and closer to him and the bartenders, helping developing techniques to make their lives easier with my cooking and baking knowledge.
And so I asked to have a working experience at the bar. I had to do it on my day off, but I couldn’t be more excited. It felt so right, as if I’ve been waiting on that moment to happen all my life. I loved it, and asked to get transferred, but obviously it wouldn’t be that easy. It was a hard time in the kitchen with people leaving, head chef getting sacked, and nobody wanting to be on pastry other than me and another girl.

Finally, after two months waiting and a lot of pressure put on the management, I got it. And that was when my life changed. I got to know the world of talking to costumers, of looking clean and tidy, of having set breaks to eat, of diving into a sea of brand new information. It was a period were everyday I was learning something new, tasting, creating, being happy (I even asked for extra hours).

The thing is, this Irish man called Shane Kilgariff opened not only his bar doors for me, he opened his mind and heart. I am thankful every day for making the move from the kitchen to the bar, and it’s because of this opportunity that I had, or even better, that he gave to me, that the direction of my whole career has completely changed.

Cheers to you, Shane!