I met my ex-boyfriend in the kitchen of a country club where he was a line cook and I was a server's assistant. While dating is cool, dating someone who knows how to cook is even cooler. You get plenty of cooking lessons, eat lots of good food without having to leave the house (always a plus), and hear story after story about the culinary industry. I feel like I spent a year in culinary school without ever having set foot within miles of a kitchen. So here are some valuable culinary lessons I learned from dating a cook.

1. A cook and a chef are not the same thing.

Yes, a cook and a chef both prepare food in kitchens. However, there is a distinction to be made: "cook" is a blanket term for anyone who makes food, while a chef is in a position of authority in a kitchen (fun fact: chef in French means "chief" in English). A restaurant kitchen will typically have an executive chef and a couple of sous chefs who plan specials, manage the kitchen staff, and (hopefully!) help out during service.

2. Sharp knives are both dangerous and critical.

It's pretty common knowledge that you should keep your knives sharp. It prevents unclean, tear-like slicing and lowers the chance that the blade will slip and cut you. But do you really know how sharp your knives should be? If you're dating a cook, you'll know that the answer is "about as sharp as they can be." The prospect of using a knife that can literally shave the hair off your arm might be a little bit terrifying, but in the long run it's going to make cooking a breeze.

3. Properly caramelized onions are supposed to take forever.

Onion Bulbs and Sliced Onion on Ceramic Plate · Free Stock Photo

on Pexels

If a recipe says that you can manage to make legit caramelized onions in 5 minutes, it's a blatant lie. You can find blog post after blog post saying that a good caramelization takes about 45 minutes (and Spoon is no exception). Apparently, you can go even longer. Like, hours longer at a lower heat.

4. Never feel like you can only pick one food to love.

After many a discussion about food in which I proclaimed, "I like _______ more than _______," the response was always "You don't have to pick one over the other." We live in a world of waffles versus pancakes and coffee versus tea. Why so dualistic? Granted, it shouldn't take dating a cook to know this. It just shouldn't be a cop-out to say you enjoy two foods equally and respect each food individually for what they are.

5. The culinary industry is tough.

Not many industries are considered "easy," but the culinary industry can be especially grueling. You're either getting to work early or leaving work late. You're going to get cut or burned most days. But like every other career industry, it has its perks. Food is an art, so you're basically making edible art for people to enjoy. You're going to make some good friends in the kitchen, and if you climb the ranks, you can totally revamp a menu with your creative genius. 

6. Cooking without a recipe shouldn't be intimidating.

Unless you have your ratios memorized, I would stick to recipes for baking. But when you're cooking, there's way more wiggle room for putting in whatever you want and making something that doesn't fit a definitive category of food. If it sounds good, put it together and make it with confidence. Who cares if you've never seen the combination before?

7. Cooking with another person is way more of a bonding experience than you think.

Think about it: you don't willingly cook with people you don't like. There's something about cooking a meal with someone else that brings you closer together (check out these recipes for a prime bonding experience). Maybe it has to do with the fact that you're preparing ever-so-essential nourishment so you don't starve, maybe it's about screwing up together, or maybe it's a chemical thing. Either way, let it be noted that you'll feel a little fuzzy inside if you cook with someone you enjoy being around.

If you haven't been lucky enough to find yourself dating a cook, I hope you'll add it to your bucket list. People working in the culinary industry have a lot of knowledge to offer, whether it's about how to prepare something the right way or something completely different. Odds are, it'll be worth your time.