A Very Cool Job: Or How Not To Kill Your Dinner Guests

I rarely let people cook for me anymore — it’s just too dangerous. And honestly, my friends are so exasperated with me, that dinner invites are few and far between. Who can blame them? People get tetchy when you grill them about what is in their family recipes, and “Are you sure this dish has no dairy, alcohol or added sugar” just does not go down a treat, even with friends. However, after several trips to the emergency room and countless days of trying to rebalance blood sugar levels, I’ve learned not to trust people’s blithe dismissal of my dietary concerns. I trust my stepmother’s and sister’s cooking because they have cooked for diabetics for a long time. And that’s about it.

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I was working and going to school full-time, finishing up a thesis and interviewing around the country for a new job. I didn’t have time to cook and was still learning about what I could eat anyway. So I took my meds and ate very little. This worked until I became so thin, it hurt to sit for more than a half hour, and I started to pass out a lot. I resorted to prepared meals from the grocer’s freezer case so I knew exactly what I was eating.  I’ve gotten pretty good about estimating carbohydrate counts in restaurant foods, and many places post their nutritional info online. I could cook at home, but honestly, by the time I’m ready to start cooking, I really should just be eating to prevent a blood sugar slide.

Enter a very cool job: catering, but not the type of catering you may be thinking about. I went to A Taste of Glendale function several years back where I met a woman who was catering this function for one of the local stores. You buy a bracelet and then go around to restaurants and stores picking up “a taste” of their foods. So sure, she was a caterer, but she also would cater to individual dietary needs. I haven’t seen her website in awhile, so I don’t know if she still does this. But what a cool job. It requires a person to sublimate her own chef’s ego to the needs of the client. You really have to be one part chemist, one part detective, and a food and medical expert to pull this off. This woman would meet with a client with special dietary needs, set up menus for a couple of weeks at a time and then go shopping for ingredients. She would then prepare the meals in the client’s kitchen. The client could be there watching, ensuring that the food was prepared correctly. Then the meals were labeled with nutritional info and frozen.

Is this expensive? Absolutely. But if I ever won the lottery or hit the jackpot in Las Vegas, this would be one worthwhile way to spend the money. You’d have to be willing to turn your kitchen over to someone else and to build up a trusting relationship with that person. But I’d say avoiding repeated trips to the ER would be worth it.