Well. I finally did it. I started a blog.
Sorry, this first post is a little long. I’m getting the basics in, will expand on them in future posts.
Hi, and thanks for stopping by. My name is Nancy Caivano, and this is my tale of how I had my dream job, lost it because of illness and how I have survived being disabled at 29.
I’m 48 now, and it’s been a long 19 years. I’d been a sick kid most of my life, I had asthma before everyone had asthma. There were no rescue inhalers until I was in HS. I never let it stop me from doing what I wanted, and had a full, fun life. I bounced around in offices, doing various secretarial work, until I finally decided to go to cooking school. My dad had passed when I was 18, so Mom and I went and got some financial aid so I could go. I went to NY Restaurant School, which was an amazing place. They had classes literally around the clock, so you could work full time and still go. My asthma was pretty well controlled around this time, so I took the weekend classes, which were from 8 to 6, worked a full time office job, and then worked weekends after school at a bowling alley snack bar. Exhausting and fulfilling.
I worked my first real job at Mulino’s of Westchester while I was still going to school. They were really great to me there, I got to see and experience all the hard work that went into being a cook. It’s not all flaming pans and beautiful dishes, it’s hours of prepping, packing, washing and sweeping. It could get tedious at times, but it was a great education for me. Then I got what I thought would be my dream job. I got a job on the line at Tavern on the Green. In the PASTA station no less! For an Italian-American girl from the Bronx, this was IT!
I started working there in 1992. I loved it. I loved the long hours, the aching feet, the burned hands, the shouting and the awful heat. I just knew I was in the right place. I made some great friends. I was literally on the cusp of moving out into my own place, when we had a kosher party. Because we weren’t a kosher restaurant, they had to cover the surfaces with plastic wrap, and clean the ovens. Whatever cleaner they used, sent me into a severe asthma attack, and I had to go to the hospital, where I stayed for a few days. I figured it to be a one time thing, but I kept having attacks that would force me off the line. I had to leave in an ambulance countless times, and sometimes, I went back and finished my shift. Eventually, my body couldn’t take it any longer, and I went on disability. Goodbye dream job!! I was always somewhat overweight, but after being put on daily prednisone, I became enormous. So I had to start a roller coaster weight loss journey. More on that another time.
So what next? As my younger brother liked to say, I became a professional Aunt. I helped raise 3 nephews and a niece at various times, and everyone seemed to call me Aunt Nancy, or Aunt Nance. It was so hard to be away from food. I still dream that I’m at work on the line and wake up very disappointed.
I do have happiness. My mom and brother, my rocks; my niece and nephews; my best friend, who happens to be my cousin, and her 2 friends that became mine, my Bracioles. (I’ll explain that in another post.) Food TV and magazines sustain me and when I’m feeling well, I cook in my kitchen. In the last 5 years I’ve had 6 surgeries for various things, plus had both knees replaced in 2013. There are times I sound like the Tin Man before Dorothy found the oil can.
I’m hoping that this blog will be informative and fun, heartbreaking and silly. I’ll be posting lots of recipes, crazy family stories, and a lot of venting. I promise not to let it turn into whining.
Please let me know if you like it or if you don’t. What I need to do or stop doing. I’d love to hear from you!!