A Special Gift – An Invitation for Dinner


Many people have several jobs before getting to the one that best fit their aspirations. We dream of the perfect career but it is sometimes difficult to get a grasp on it.  Some people find themselves leading their career to a surprising, unexpected outcome, discovering the most fulfilling job ever! That was the case for Chantal.

Chantal’s first career was in respiratory technology before moving on as a dental assistant which she performed for 16 years.   She had it all: a solid paycheck, fringe benefits and good patients from every career lines. She had everything and proudly so. But, unfortunately, occupational hazard caused Chantal to have some symptoms of illness which she endured for 2 years and finally made the decision to quit the job; it was necessary. Chantal had no clue where she would end up but she had confidence that the Universe would bring her on the best fulfilling path.

For the next 6 years, Chantal carried on many careers; from sales representative to other odd jobs.  In parallel, she started exploring a new avenue just for fun; she decided to venture herself in the food and catering business which she carried on from time to time. This all started thirty years ago when Chantal was baking sugar pies for Fuller’s restaurant while waitressing night shifts on weekends and going to school as well.

At one time, Chantal baked her first wedding cake for her dearest manager who became her best friend for the next 30 years.  This friend owned a restaurant where she helped him start his business by making desserts and cooking for the first few nights of business. This business man became Chantal’s lifelong mentor.

Then it just lit up: what if… Chantal becomes a chef! Perhaps it was meant to be this way.  Chantal dove unexpectedly into this type of career, owning her own business with no previous solid experience and yet, as a single parent, she had the responsibility to provide for her 3 children. Could she make ends meet with a catering business? She didn’t know at the time but Chantal took a chance.

It all started with this brilliant idea as a year end gift; a memorable gift that the children would offer to their respective teacher.  It was going to be one of a kind… and this gift would be offered as a token of the children’s appreciation and gratitude for their teacher.  The gift was an invitation for dinner served by their respective student under Chantal’s guidance.  The teachers were overwhelmed by the offer and accepted with a big smile.

Gracefully, the children prepared the table with the finest dishes and hand-made decoration; the table was set up for royalty.  They served their teacher with the etiquette of fine dining and made sure that their special guests were fulfilled at all times. One of the children was attending kindergarten, and the two others were in grade 2 and 3.  As young as they were, they did very well; Chantal can attest to this. Each child was responsible for their teacher from start to finish including: greeting them into the home, taking their coat and serving them the meal. In the plan, the cleaning and washing dishes were also part of their tasks. The meal consisted of a four course meal. All three teachers were amazed by the food and service they delivered and they would certainly not hesitate to recommend the home restaurant.

As the years passed by, Chantal continued her normal contracts as she baked for special friends, when suddenly, out of the blues, one of the teachers met Chantal’s son at his workplace while he was attending college.  He then inquired about Chantal, wondering if she was still cooking and baking. The teacher indicated that he still raves about the chocolate truffle cake that he indulged years ago. The teacher, who was now vice-principal in an elementary school, asked for Chantal’s phone number hoping to use her services for a special event.  She then received a phone call by the elementary school for a proposition. Chantal was asked if she’d like to prepare and serve lunches for the students on a contractual basis.  At this point, Chantal was not going to make the decision on her own; this would imply a family reunion. She figured that this would become a home based business thus affecting all family members. After reflection and approval from her children and of course proper planning, she was giving herself a 3 month trial. She said to herself: ‘Let’s wait and see the results’. Besides, children had their share of participation in this new venture.

In 24 hours, Chantal’s brother created a full functional kitchen in the basement from her home. After that trial period over, the home based business became an instant success and finally, it was time to quit the day job and move to her dream job.

Two years have passed and the business was growing faster than expected. It was time to move out of the home and get a true kitchen set-up for her expanded business.  She then acquired her dream office which was attached to a fully equipped kitchen. The kitchen included four stoves and a professional set-up. Chantal also managed to build a full team to operate her business. This was working very well for her.

 

Catering business

Her clients are schools, businesses, families and individuals. Chantal business offers fine cuisine for private parties using the ‘chef at home’ concept, prepared meals delivered to families and individuals and, anything else that your palate and mind desire! Here are examples of her creation: the cake pops….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yet, Chantal had not enough on her plate, she had to move on and buy an established mobile canteen that she drives to different business locations in the city and serves breakfast, snacks and lunch.  But this is not any kind of food; it is Chantal’s special meals such as, chicken and cranberry sandwiches, homemade walnut and baileys cookies. Wouldn’t you want to savor one of those cookies or sandwiches?  Some people are very lucky to have these extravaganzas at their disposition.

Can you picture this nice, good looking blond, barely 5 feet tall and weighing 100 pounds, driving a near 3 tons red truck? You can hardly see her behind the steering wheel!

Chantal is a pure example of a courageous, daring and tenacious person who has made her dream job come true.  This is what makes her jump up in the morning to cook–up a feast for her clients at 5:00 in the morning.

What is she thinking of doing next? Perhaps an event organizer or an operations’ manager for a multi-franchise?  This is yet another story!

If you have lived a career change, we would like to hear it. You can send your story at
Stories@WomensExpressions.com .

 

Story by Chantal
Edited by Jo-Anne L.

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