Farm to Fork chef Kristin Hamaker is blurring the lines in life, work and creativity to make stronger connections between personal life, family, her writing and her job as a personal chef in the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
I’m finding myself at once in the throes of growing an in-demand business and diverging to pursue other interests, such as writing. Slowly, I’m coming to terms with the reality that my professional and personal lives are ever-entangled and one way I’m grasping that now is with the help of an image, that of constellation.
Who are you and what do you do in life?
By day I operate my busy personal chef service called Farm to Fork that now employees three chefs beyond myself. By early-morning and by evening I am a writer, ruminator, mum.
What does a typical day look like for you? What daily tasks do you need to complete with life and work?
Up very early to brew coffee and read the paper with the cat in the morning dark. After that I pilot my kindergartner and my three chefs into their separate directions. More coffee and then pull up to the desk to compose menus, make market lists, correspond with clients and reply to inquiries, and generally pull all together for the chefs for their next cooking day.
How did you become passionate about being an advocate for real food?
This may have begun earlier than I remember since I’ve always been a bit of a bohemian, a bit rebellious. I was raised on the foods of industry, food from boxes and cans, and so with my first blush of real food (more or less, food with integrity, depth, and character) I was changed and redirected. Advocacy was slow since it didn’t occur to me for a long time that my food choices aligned with my values and beliefs, but beyond that I increasingly wanted to spread the word on how delicious, as well as soulful, real food was.
After working on your own as a personal chef for 8 years, you recently decided to expand your business and hire 3 more chefs. What prompted this expansion?
Simultaneously, and oddly, I needed to answer the long-time demand for the service and my own desire to engage in other projects, such as writing.
When we met, you talked about blurring the lines of personal life, creative life and work? What is driving this exploration?
You’ve caught me at an awkward and perfect time in my creative and personal life. I am doubly in transformation with my growing business and young writing project. The constellation image that we’ve talk about, that captures this time for me, is a way for me to compartmentalize since I am horrible at compartmentalizing, hence blurred lines. Never more am I trying to tame the beast that is my mind. Instead, I am sincerely taking each moment on its own.
Since the expansion of your business, what have you learned about yourself?
That I am capable of change and that I should take opportunities, within this current climate of transformation, to do so.
When you expanded and became busier instead of less busy, your husband Nate reduced hours at his job to part-time to help you with your business. What has this transition been like?
It’s been relatively easy—wonderful and relieving—since he’s doing the dusting now and getting our dilly-dally daughter out the door in the morning, for instance. Nate and I have been partners for a long time (and just about to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary) and luckily, we work as a team and collaborate well. However, when he has down time and puts his legs up to read his novel in the middle of the day, I growl at the sight of him when I’m swimming in office work.
What habits have you changed in the midst of all this transition?
Oh, I’m always trying to throw out habits and make change if possible. I’m almost never wonderful at it, but I know deeply the value of that practice. I’m determined to loosen from my perfectionism and severely high standards for myself and others, and working to allow others (my chefs, my husband) take on long-time responsibilities that were once mine.
How does all of this affect your personal and creative time? What have you discovered?
To come full circle in our conversation about transformation I’m learning and embracing the truth that my personal, professional and creative lives align. I’m trying to make sense of that.
Specifically, how has this transition, and shifting your mindset affected your writing?
I believe it’s early to answer that completely but interestingly the writing and the process of writing right now feels light, easy, as if I have more permission to write now than I ever have. Maybe that comes from the fact that when I was younger and writing in earnest, but with difficulty, I had too much freedom and time and therefore not enough fodder or material, and now, so many years later, I am enduring the entire opposite of that.
What really matters to you in work and in life?
Joy and integrity, engagement and meaning.
3 Good Habits for Eating Well
1. Learn about and appreciate seasonal eating since this touches so many components of healthy eating, plus it helps to limit you, which is a value people don’t consider.
2. Move very slowly when modifying your diet and transitioning to whole-foods eating; make one move at a time, be simple, and don’t get wrapped up in extremes.
3. Cook your own food, in your own kitchen, since this is one of most powerful and simplest ways to take control, make connections, and eat in an unadulterated way.