November 10, 2021

Episode 24: Chef Michelle Gayer

I catch up with my friend local chef and entrepreneur Michelle Gayer.

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Stephanie Hansen  00:15

Hi, this is Stephanie Hansen, you’re listening to dishing was Stephanie’s dish. And this is a podcast where sometimes I talk about food things and sometimes I talk about life things. And in this particular situation, it’s kind of both I am here with my guest, Michelle Guyer. Hi, Michelle. I, Lou. I don’t think I mean, maybe I’ve told you these things. But I will tell you again. So the very first time I met you is really vivid in my mind, because I met you at the fine line. It was an event and you were like, so everything like you had this cool jacket on and a cool shirt and you had cool jewelry. And you were with like your big chest lady friends. Yeah. ansed. And we just had like, the best time. And then I was like, Oh, this Michelle guy, or she’s really cool. And stuff. March was like, yeah, don’t you know her? She’s the salty tart. And I didn’t really. And then over time, I got to know you as you started. Salty turret and then you expanded. And you are James Beard award winning pastry chef. And I would see you around. And then you came to my house a couple times. And then we’ve talked about how we love sailing. Yes. And then COVID, which was seriously like 18 months ago. And I just was thinking about you the other day. And I was like, Shit, I want to talk to her. I want to figure out what happened, what she’s doing. And I should mention too, and probably I don’t know if you talk about this a lot, but you were also a stage three cancer survivor. I am. And yeah, same same. So that’s not something everybody loves to just hang out and chat about. But it is a thing. It is a thing. I don’t mind chatting about it. How long have you been cancer free? And just over five years. And when you got to that five year mark? Because that’s like the magic mark for lots of people. Did you feel any different?

Michelle Gayer  02:10

I don’t know that. That was I don’t know that. they’ll ever be a magic mark for me. I mean, either. Because there’s never I don’t there’s just never a time where I’m going to be like, Oh, I think I’m good to go here, gentlemen.

Stephanie Hansen  02:22

Yes, I had 100% annoying. I mean, it’ll just be forever. And it’s

Michelle Gayer  02:26

some you know, it’s something I work on, but I’m always like, oh to cancer, or cancer. Like, what? What are you coming back as? What are you coming back? As if you came around rolling around hollering at the lungs? What are you up to now?

Stephanie Hansen  02:42

Yeah, and do you like every time you have like a weird feeling? Are you like,

Michelle Gayer  02:46

Oh, um, it’s more of a if I feel really sick. It’s not a feeling. But if I feel like, you know, during COVID was hard for me. Because I was like, Oh, am I getting sick? Or is it cancer as a COVID? You know, what is it? It’s more like a feeling that gets me sad. And then I get really sad.

Stephanie Hansen  03:08

Yeah, yeah. It’s, um, it’s hard to explain to people that haven’t gone through it, because everybody in the world wants you to just be like, Okay, right. Because like, you’re great. You’re okay.

Michelle Gayer  03:22

And yeah, you survive. So like, Come on, let’s go.

Stephanie Hansen  03:25

Yeah. And then like our friend, our friend, Chef, Jack rebol is in hospice care right now for stage four cancer. And he’s like, trying to live his best life. And everybody is like, Oh, look how great Jack’s doing. And sometimes I just get kind of sad, because I think, yeah, but he’s still dying.

Michelle Gayer  03:44

I’m so sad about it. It’s, it’s hard for me. I only can send him love notes. And I can only send him lightened love. Because that survivor’s guilt thing is, I’m still it’s rough for me.

Stephanie Hansen  03:59

It’s really interesting to hear you say that, because I had a lot of survivor’s guilt in the beginning. And then I thought I had kind of gotten past it. Yeah, until him and another good friend of mine died recently, too. And with those two, I felt like I could never be sorry enough. I could never be helpful enough compassionate enough. Yeah.

Michelle Gayer  04:23

extreme sadness. I don’t know how to explain

Stephanie Hansen  04:28

it. Yeah, it is. And I did. I spent time with him. And if you I did, and I, it was hard for me to do it. And I wanted to go with Stephanie, if I’m being perfectly honest, because I wanted her to kind of like, be like, yeah, and she kind of went on her own. And I was like, Well, I’m not gonna miss this chance. So I went alone. And it was a Sunday morning and it was him and cat. And we had a beautiful time just talking and I was like, just straight up brutally honest, like, I’m so satisfying. And he was like, I’m so happy. You just said it. He goes, so many people just, like don’t know what to say. Like, I’ve been to chemo

Michelle Gayer  05:11

with him a couple times, because we have the same oncologist, the same doctor, the same nurses, and we have the same people Jeremy, like, we got chemo in the same room. Like, we mean, we have the same doctors. And so um, I went and supported him. You know, in the beginning during all of that,

Stephanie Hansen  05:28

yeah, yeah, it’s hard. And also, I think I have to remind myself sometimes to like, no person that’s going through cancer is sitting around keeping a list of who’s grieving enough who’s doing it right. Who’s doing it wrong. Right. You just, you’re just doing it, you know?

Michelle Gayer  05:46

Yes. This is

Stephanie Hansen  05:49

one of my first calls when I found out I remember, and I just remember feeling like, Oh, I hope I’m at all helpful, or, I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know, there’s

Michelle Gayer  05:59

gonna be some chemo, what’s the deal?

Stephanie Hansen  06:04

And you also don’t want to be like that just completely. I am kind of a Debbie Downer just in general, because I’m sort of the realist person. Yeah, I want to be that person that’s like, Oh, yeah. Well, let me tell you, it’s gonna get pretty rough. Yeah.

Michelle Gayer  06:20

Right. It’ll be fine. Yeah, it’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be great.

Stephanie Hansen  06:25

During that whole time, you know, you’ve had a lot happen, because you obviously you were with someone that you were partnered with, and you’re not anymore. Are you back on the love life trail?

Michelle Gayer  06:37

I am. Tell me about that. It’s rough out there.

Stephanie Hansen  06:42

I can’t even imagine. Oh,

Michelle Gayer  06:45

it’s I mean, the stories and the ghosting and the just craziness that happens. And I just kind of went into it like, it’s a numbers game. So you’re just like, keep, keep them keep them in rotation. I mean, don’t give up. You can’t give up. Don’t give up. You can be down for a day. You can be sad that this one didn’t work out. But you got it. You got to keep going.

Stephanie Hansen  07:07

Yeah, cuz you wanted to be partnered.

Michelle Gayer  07:10

Yeah, I want to be like I’m about to be an empty nester. And now, I’m done taking care of, you know, my two humans, you know, the three of us are breaking up. We’re like breaking up the band. People are moving out getting boyfriends. And and now it’s time.

Stephanie Hansen  07:25

Yeah. And I think for a lot of people that are single parents, too. They wait until the kids are out to really in a meaningful way. Do it. And then it’s like your game on. You’re ready.

Michelle Gayer  07:35

Yes, yes. So just finding that person. Do you mean?

Stephanie Hansen  07:40

Yeah. Did you online date?

Michelle Gayer  07:42

Yes, I’ve I’ve done Facebook, online dating. I’ve done Bumble and inch.

Stephanie Hansen  07:48

Okay. All right. And everybody’s meeting online nowadays. So it used to be like in the day, you couldn’t really say you’re like, ah, or online. But yeah, people are like, yeah, it’s online. Big look.

Michelle Gayer  07:59

Yes. Kind of like though, it’s kind of, it’s kind of the only thing due to me that you want to rock this project out. Right?

Stephanie Hansen  08:05

Yep. And you got to work during COVID. Like, what was that? Like?

Michelle Gayer  08:11

Um, I didn’t really? Did I see. I think I was I was in the beginning of seeing someone so we it was a great he was he was a great COVID boyfriend.

Stephanie Hansen  08:22

Yeah. Alright, great. COVID boyfriend. I can’t. I didn’t plug my computer in. So I think I’ve got limited time here. So I’m just gonna keep going. Okay, so during COVID Like before, COVID you had closed down your businesses, so you didn’t have to necessarily deal with that, like COVID dodged a bullet. Yeah. Are you thinking about that? Yeah, I

Michelle Gayer  08:47

think about it a lot. I think what a blessing it was. And I’m just happy that I listened to my body and myself because I was so stressed out. And just life was no fun anymore. And I was just it was so stressful. And I just thought that this can’t be the rest of my life due to me like for what a cookie like I just know My happiness is way more important than any of this stuff.

Stephanie Hansen  09:12

Do you think that cancer got you there?

Michelle Gayer  09:15

Oh, cancer definitely helped. Absolutely.

Stephanie Hansen  09:18

I tell people about like that there is a silver lining, but it sometimes takes a while to see it. And yeah, I mean,

Michelle Gayer  09:26

yeah, I’m grateful. Like, let’s not I’ve done enough work. And I’ve done enough the past is grateful work to know that I am thankful to be right here today right now here with you. And that I went through that and it’s done and what a blessing because it is a lot of lessons.

Stephanie Hansen  09:44

Yeah, it helps you clarify what’s important to you, and you don’t feel I mean, I just don’t feel like I have lots of time. I feel like time is finite, and I need to move it forward. And I don’t want to waste any time. Yes, because you don’t Don’t know how much time you have. And it’s not even like a sad thing. It’s just a thing like, yeah, saw the door opened and you saw out what that looks like. And then the door closed and you were like, oh, okay, I kind of get moving.

Michelle Gayer  10:15

Yeah. And I just thought, like, if I ever got sick again, I don’t this I don’t want this to be the rest of the end of my story. Yeah. Yeah, the end of my story was just the salty chart. Like I have lots of other things that I want to do, and other ways to be creative. And, you know,

Stephanie Hansen  10:31

and are you enjoying the work that you’re doing? Now? You’re I hate to do I call you a corporate chef. I don’t exactly know what words are.

Michelle Gayer  10:39

I’ve been, I’m calling myself a food scientist lately, because I’ve been in the food science world. So I am doing formulating recipes for all their retail divisions.

Stephanie Hansen  10:50

Okay, so and and that makes sense. Because pastry obviously is so precise. Yeah.

Michelle Gayer  10:57

And this is all pastry work. I’m not doing any say I do savory work in schools in our different locations. But this is all pastry work. Are you hearing me like a Hawaiian roll? Like to take over Hawaiian roll business?

Stephanie Hansen  11:08

Oh, cuz there is some room there. Because those things are good. But they’re so sweet. It’s just like, yeah, if you could have one with like, three tenths of the sugar, and it was still like, have that puffy Enos of a delicious dinner roll. Right? So corporate chef, and you’re happy.

Michelle Gayer  11:30

So happy. hours, I get regular paychecks that paid time off. I work with great people. I work for this great family that I adore. And I’m just, I’m happy.

Stephanie Hansen  11:45

And you’re elite, a leader? Because you’ve always been a leader, but you’re a leader in a different capacity.

Michelle Gayer  11:52

Yes. We’re not like a leader who’s a low. You know, you have make work. All the all the responsibilities, all the things. Just want to have fun.

Stephanie Hansen  12:02

Yeah. Are you doing any traveling?

Michelle Gayer  12:04

I’m going to Chicago this coming weekend. The Charlie Trotter documentary is going to be at the Chicago Film Fest on walking the red carpet and hanging out with all those people.

Stephanie Hansen  12:14

I have thought about you because I know he was a very important person in your life.

Michelle Gayer  12:19

Yes. So we filmed in LA. We did all these interviews two years ago. And it’s finally it’ll be at the Film Festival this weekend in Chicago. So about that.

Stephanie Hansen  12:28

If it comes to town, let me know. And we’ll do something with it. Yeah,

Michelle Gayer  12:31

that’d be fun, right? Yeah, it

Stephanie Hansen  12:33

would be Well, I’m glad I checked in with you. I’ve just I’ve been missing you. And I’d love to get together soon. But I just thought well, I’ll just call her and talk to her and see if she’ll just tell me what she’s up to. And Michelle, thank you for spending time with me. I’ll make sure to get you back on weekly dish too. I’d love to Okay, love you. Bye.

Michelle Gayer  12:51