If you’ve been reading Married to a Chef a while, you know I’m not one to be of few words. A “chatty Cathy” by nature, my tendency is to go on and on. Well, here is a first. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever imagine featuring someone who is connected to the reason why so many of our restaurant men and women went into the industry in the first place! Today marks the ONE YEAR anniversary of our launch, Valentines Day 2011 at 5pm, and I CANNOT think of a better way to CELEBRATE (ahem, celebrate!) than to be blessed with our February featured Significant Other, Ottavia Busia Bourdain.
A little bit about Ottavia – Ottavia was born and raised in Lombardy, Italy; she moved to NYC in 2000 and started working in the restaurant business. She’s held various positions in restaurants like Sette Moma, Café des Artistes, Le Bernardin, Orsay, Serafina, Geisha. She’s now the proud mother of a 4-year-old daughter, she travels with her husband and she’s an avid practitioner of Mixed Martial Arts.
Let’s hear how Ottavia, former restaurant woman herself, wife of celebrated chef, and world traveler Anthony Bourdain make life work around his very busy schedule!
What were your first impressions when you first realized that by being with your restaurant man/woman, that you have become a part of the restaurant world?
A. It’s a well-known fact my husband hasn’t worked in a restaurant in quite a few years. When I met him I was actually the one working in a restaurant and he was already traveling the world. As a General Manager working 14-16 hours a day I definitely had no time to have any kind of relationship, so dating a man who was never there seemed kind of perfect. We didn’t see each other much for the first few months but we made it work. Most of our dates would take place in dive bars in the middle of the night.
When did you know that you had what it took, within the parameters of his/her career, to find success in your relationship?
A. Working in the restaurant business was definitely what brought us together. We used to meet after my shift was over and we would stay up for hours drinking beers, talking about my day at work. Anybody else would have been bored to death, or horrified, but for him it was enjoyable and it would bring back memories of his days in the business.
We also knew a lot of the same people. And we shared that particular sense of humor you inevitably acquire when you work in that environment.
For me working in restaurants was a real passion. It was my career. I was never a struggling actress trying to make ends meet by waiting tables. I had to quit towards the end of my pregnancy, I remember walking down greasy kitchen stairs in my stilettos with a 38-week big belly and falling on my butt all over the place. I never injured myself, but I would constantly give my colleagues mini heart attacks. I had my baby shower at the restaurant when I was already having contractions.
I still miss it.
What is the BEST part of being married to someone in the restaurant industry?
A. Not the food! My husband doesn’t cook at home, although if you ask him he’ll tell you I don’t let him, or that I don’t appreciate his cooking, which might or might not be true. The best part was opportunity to meet some of the greatest chefs like Ferran Adria, Jose Andres, Juan Marie Arzak, and have meals with them, often in their kitchens.
How do you handle the holidays knowing he/she is going to be busy at work?
A. For me it’s actually the opposite, the holidays are the only times when he’s home. Which is strange to deal with when you are used to be alone. True story, I remember once waking up in the middle of the night terrified because someone was in my bed. That someone was my husband, I had just forgotten that he was home. Good thing I didn’t beat him up.
This past holidays he actually cooked, which was great, but yeah, it took 5 years of marriage to find out my husband can cook a mean holiday meal.
How has achieving acclaim and success, within the restaurant industry, changed your relationship?
A. When I first met my husband he wasn’t particularly famous, he was recognized in certain circles but people wouldn’t stop him in the street. His level of popularity has now definitely increased, he has written more books, he does speaking engagements, and his shows are broadcast all over the world. I have to admit at first, when people started asking for pictures or autographs pretty much everywhere, it was a little unsettling, now I’m the one who offers to take the picture if someone approaches him. I completely support everything he wants to do, whether it’s traveling to Libya, bungee jumping or writing a comic book.
Thank you Ottavia!! I am so honored!!!
Follow Ottavia on Twitter @OttaviaBourdain