Day Radley is a private vegan chef, who has worked all over the world preparing healthy, delicious food for her clients. You can see more of her beautiful food at www.veganchefday.com. Today she’s telling us what her experience of taking the leap into self employment has been.
Before puberty hit I was a confident exuberant girl. Afterwards, I became shy, insecure and didn’t look anyone in the eye for many years. I became very aware that I thought and felt differently to everyone around me: my family, my friends, people in the town I grew up in. I felt very alone and at odds with the world.
I’d love to go back in time and tell that lonely girl that there are many people like her, and she will find them in time. To hold tight to that confidence and exuberance and to look everyone in the eye because you have every right to be in this world.
Everything changed for me in 2010, when my photography was exhibited in a cafe as part of the Brighton Photo Biennale Fringe. The owner chatted to me about me being vegan, and he ended up asking me to make cakes and pastries for his cafe.
I spent entire days testing and perfecting recipes; endless hours creating food. I loved every minute. The time flew by, I felt calm yet alert, I was constantly learning yet able to rise to each challenge. This is where and when I found my flow. It was because of that feeling that I dedicated myself to being a chef.
As a private chef I am constantly creating new dishes and trying out recipes. This aspect feeds the creative side of me. And I love making my food look beautiful!
Finding my crossroads
Someone close to me commented that if cooking was to be my career then going to university had been a waste of time. That really hurt, but as it turned out, it couldn’t have been further from the truth.
I have an undergraduate degree in art and a masters degree in art history. The skills I developed in those courses have given me an edge in this career. I have great visual knowledge so I can design a stunning plate and take a pretty good photograph. I know how to research and how to write well which has helped me to do food writing and to create my website. James Altucher calls this “finding your intersection”.
By bringing together all of my skills I raised my game.
After all, we eat with our eyes first. I share photos of my food onto Instagram, Facebook and my website. My hope is that by doing so, people seeing those photos will understand that healthy vegan food can be exciting and enticing.
My biggest challenge has been my lack of formal training. There is no professional catering course for vegans in the UK. So I learnt on the job. It was sink or swim. The first professional kitchen I worked in didn’t train me. They just gave me recipes and that was it! I haven’t let that stop me. I have researched a lot and picked up knowledge anywhere that I can.
Strength in community
Earlier this year I was exhausted and felt very alone. I expect a lot from myself – it’s what drives me but it can also be my downfall.
I reached out to the Facebook group Women Chefs and Restaurateurs in America. They were so amazingly supportive. It was they who told me I sounded exhausted and alone. I hadn’t realised that. I just felt incapable, inept, out of my depth etc. They gave me lots of practical advice. But just as important was the feeling of support, mutual understanding and camaraderie.
Create your own path
When I started working in a professional kitchen I was on minimum wage and in a highly stressed environment. Today I earn a good living working with wonderful supportive people. If I had been put off a chef’s career because of that first experience I wouldn’t be where I am today – happy, content and fulfilled.
Many people feel that they need to see the complete path before taking the first step. They need to know where it is going and that they will have a guaranteed income and security every step of the way. When you create your own path you only see one step ahead. You have to be brave and know that the next step will appear eventually. You have to have faith in that process.
Of course you have to be willing to make things happen too. The steps don’t just appear! They appear because of the actual physical things you do like networking and getting your name out there on social media and online. You never know what the next step will look like. That’s part of the fun!
As told to our community angel, Madeleine Forbes
Walk your own path
Day shared her love for vegan food, and when she put herself out there and conveyed her passion through her photography and words, a new path opened up. If you’d like to learn how to share your passion strategically, to lead to actual paying clients, check out Blog for Clients, now available as an instant-access self-study course. It comes with access to the Blog for Clients Facebook group, filled with supportive, like minded self-employed people who provide support and encouragement when things feel hard. Click here to get your copy – the price rises on 18th December.
P.S. PASS IT ON
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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes
“When you create your own path, you only see one step ahead” – @chefdayradley shares her journey with @CorrinaGB