Living intentionally has been a major theme in my life the past few years.  Maybe it’s because I’m growing older (and wiser!) or maybe it’s because I’ve witnessed too many people I care about waste their time on meaningless pursuits while their true passions are shelved, like a favorite book you always plan to read but rarely do.  I decided somewhere around 32 that I couldn’t operate under the confines of what makes the most sense or what aligns with the expectations of others.  And so I’m not.  It’s that simple.

When I chose to stop planning weddings and start teaching wedding planners full time some people were surprised.  I was at the height of my career, making a great income and working with dream clients who saw my value and invested accordingly. But once I had “arrived” I found that while I was passionate about my clients and excelling at everything I did, I wasn’t truly passionate about planning weddings.  I knew I couldn’t pretend when instead I had become passionate about teaching new and aspiring wedding planners how to create solid businesses – just like I had created for myself.  I’ve been doing just that since 2013 and last year, after planning over 200 weddings, I did my last one and moved into providing educational resources for wedding planners full time.  I created a course, did lots of one-on-one coaching, several speaking engagements, and mentored hundreds of wedding planners worldwide.

But I have a secret (or maybe not-so-secret if you follow me on IG)…that’s not the only passion that was borne from my career as a wedding planner.

One of the most enjoyable and beautiful elements of my job as a wedding planner was the exposure to extraordinary culinary arts on a regular basis.  I have always loved food, but until I was working in the luxury wedding sector I had never experienced food in a way that truly moved me.  And I’m not kidding.  I have actually been brought to tears by some remarkable dining experiences. Over the past few years, as teaching wedding planners took less time than planning and coordinating weddings, I found myself in the kitchen – A LOT.  What once was a necessity for survival with the added bonus that I was a good cook became equal parts creative expression, therapy, passion, and competition with myself to see what I could do.

thealisonhoward.comIn early 2015 I started kicking around the idea of owning a café or restaurant and started meeting with people in the restaurant industry.  I found my experience planning weddings and leadership skills gained owning a business lent well to front-of-house restaurant operations.  I obviously understand how tablescapes, lighting, music, and decor affect the overall ambiance and aesthetic of an environment thanks to wedding planning.  However, what I knew very little about was the back-of-house operations: aka The Kitchen.  The more I thought about starting a restaurant  the less confident I became.  How was I going to explain my vision for menu creation if I didn’t even speak “chef language” or understand food technically?  What if my chef called in sick – who would cook?  Would the chef even respect me if I didn’t know his world back there in the kitchen?

So I did what any life-learner does: started devouring any Netflix and Amazon Prime documentary I could find.  Ha!  Over the following 18 months I learned so much about food, sourcing ingredients, composition, different cultures, and fell more in love with food than I expected.  I decided that if owning a restaurant was something I truly wanted (and I do!) I needed to become an expert in food first.

And so this week, I enrolled in culinary school!

I’m excited and terrified and when I get too scared I find myself considering Julia Child, who began her culinary journey when she was older than I am now, which makes me feel loads better because guys, I’m literally going to be the mom in the minivan rolling up to culinary school.  LOL!  It’s going to be awesome!  In all seriousness, I am going to culinary school simply out of pure enthusiasm for food and entertaining with the hopes that one day I might be able to share those things on a large scale in a restaurant atmosphere.

To answer the question you might be asking yourself: Yes, I’m continuing to educate wedding planners, because I’m deeply passionate about that AND I’m attending culinary school because I am deeply passionate about that too.  Hey, maybe the two will collide at some point; hosting REFINE workshops at MY restaurant one day!  :)

I hope my new adventure encourages you to follow your passion – whatever it may be and regardless of what anyone else thinks.  Lots of updates to come and likely an overabundance of recipes and thoughts on food in the ‘Food’ section of this blog. ;)

xo dreamers,
Alison