Saturday, February 4, 2023

Food Diary: How a 37-Year-Old Personal Chef Eats on $95K in Belmont, Massachusetts

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9:30 p.m. Finally home. Okay, whatever—let’s just eat the Chinese food. I hate wasting food and money. Thank God for my air fryer, there’s nothing worse than microwaving food that was once crispy. I also steam some broccoli—you know, for balance. 

Friday total: $5.41, or $0 excluding what work covers


8:30 a.m. I was looking forward to sleeping in a bit this morning, but I guess this is where we are at. I have to do a lot today for Monday’s dinner party. I make a piece of seeded sourdough toast with some fresh chèvre and an over-easy egg. I make a cup of French press coffee with some beans that I got in Peru this summer. (How long are coffee beans good for?) I am NOT a hot coffee drinker unless I can sit, unbothered, and enjoy it while it is hot. I take the time to do that this morning. All is right in the world.

2 p.m. If I have to work on the weekend, I prefer to do it when no one else is around and I can bust out a lot of prep without distractions and with my music blasting. (YAS, Lizzo.) I decided to make individual baked Alaskas for this dinner party because why not light some stuff on fire in a very expensive Back Bay brownstone? Anyway, genius idea. I bake the cake base—citrus olive oil cake—so I have the scraps for lunch with some hot green tea. 

5 p.m. In the thick of party prep, I find some extra grilled chicken in the walk-in at work from the previous day’s events, so I eat that on top of some greens with some feta, cucumbers, red onions, Greek dressing, and an obnoxious amount of croutons. That’s my type of salad right there. I eat this sitting at my desk. (Did I mention that my desk is basically in the kitchen? It’s in a little alcove next to the walk-in with a clear view of the whole service line. Pretty convenient, but also very loud and hard to concentrate at times.) 

7 p.m. There’s a small amount of duck liver mousse from party prep that doesn’t fit in its container, so it finds its way to my apartment, naturally. I’m scooping it right out of the deli container with some rosemary crackers that I find in the back of my cabinet. They might be slightly stale, we love it. 

Saturday total: $0


9 a.m. Up and at ’em, in the home stretch of prep for tomorrow’s dinner party. I head to Whole Foods to get the last round of ingredients needed. I get a cold brew from the café right at the entrance (it’s not good, but it’s coffee) and breakfast from the hot bar (scrambled eggs, pork sausage that taste like literally nothing, and some fresh fruit). I just need some energy to get through this day; I’m not sure taste is a factor right now. 

For the dinner party, I also buy jumbo lump crab meat ($36.99), pistachio gelato for the baked Alaska ($44.34, or 6 units for $7.39 each), lemon sorbet ($14.58, or 2 units for $7.29 each), taleggio for the truffle risotto verde ($12.71 for just under a pound), a French baguette for the bouillabaisse crostinis ($3), and some microgreens. Finally, a shrimp tempura roll ($14.99) for me. ($248.27 total, or $0 thanks to work)

1 p.m. Whole Foods’s sushi is not bad and it definitely comes in handy when I need a quick energy boost, but I don’t recommend eating a cold shrimp tempura roll, sad face.

8:10 p.m. I swing by the local hardware store to get some butane to torch my baked Alaskas tomorrow. This place is conveniently located next to Dumpling Palace, a joint with soup dumplings, and I clearly haven’t gotten my fill of Chinese food this week, so here we are. I get juicy pork buns ($10.95). The server also convinces me (I swear) that I need to try the sticky rice shao mai ($10.95). I’m not sure how to describe what the taste is, but it’s kind of swampy? It’s my carb-loving dream come true, but also really sticky (weird, it’s literally called sticky rice) and dense. I also get General Gau’s chicken ($16) and rice ($2) because—options—but that’s a bad idea, with lots of tiny shards of over-fried chicken and the goopiest sauce of all time. ($51.06 total with tip and a piece of my soul)

Sunday total: $299.33, or $51.06 excluding what work covers

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