One of the hardest aspects of life in the kitchen is that, because of the long and odd hours, chefs have difficulties cultivating meaningful relationships outside of the workplace. Sarah Troxell and Jacob Pate prove that there is at least one couple in Houston that has seemingly overcome that obstacle. Their solution: they are sous chefs at the same restaurant, Eatsie Boys Café on Montrose.
Below, Troxell and Pate talk about the dynamics of their relationship, the challenges associated with moving from truck to cafe and who's the bad cop in the kitchen.
How long have you guys been together, how did you end up working in the same restaurant?
Sarah: We met five years ago, that was before I was even in culinary school so we've been together for awhile. I went to The Art Institute and worked at McCormick and Schmick's.
Jacob: I was a baker at Crave before we ended up working for Matt (Matt Marcus chef/owner Eatsie Boy's Café).
Sarah: We started on the truck a year and a half ago and have been part of the crew ever since.
Jacob: From the beginning we've been a package deal.
How did that work? Did y'all interview together or what?
Jacob: There wasn't any real interview, we heard he (Matt) needed people on the truck so we showed up and that was it.
Sarah: (laughing) It was pretty informal.
How was the transition from food truck to brick and mortar?
Sarah: It was hectic, a lot of work. The biggest difference is that here the expectations are much higher. Everything has to be just so. There is more of a sense of responsibility then there was on the truck.
Jacob: Yeah, on the truck you just had to keep track of yourself and the cash. Now we're managing other people.
How did you adapt moving into the role of sous chef?
Sarah: We both have our own strengths, Jacob is the O.C.D. organizer; I'm a little bit less organized than he is.
Jacob: Right, but like where it would take me forever to cost out a recipe, she can do it in, like, five minutes. We complement each other in a lot of ways.
Sarah: We know each other so well that we can kind of anticipate what the other is going to do, especially when we're working on the line. There is a chemistry there that other people wouldn't have because they're just not as close as we are.
What kind of schedule do you have? Is there time for life outside of work?
Sarah: A lot of the time we are on opposite schedules, obviously with two sous, you don't always need them both there at the same time.
Jacob: There isn't always a lot of time outside of work to do a whole lot, but we spend a lot of time together working. People who work in different places don't really get that.
Sarah: We're actually both off tonight. Jacob traded with someone and evenings are generally slower than days, so we do get time outside of work on occasion.
So which one of you is the good cop and which one is the bad cop?
Sarah: He's probably the nicer one.
Jacob: It just depends. I think we kind of trade off.
Sarah: Sometimes, I feel like I've had to push a little bit harder, especially in the beginning.
What kinds of challenges do you face at the cafe as opposed to on the truck?
Sarah and Jacob: PREP!
Sarah: We don't have a walk in here, and there's not a lot of fridge space so we're basically just prepping all the time.
Jacob: We don't really even have any big containers for bulk type prep, so we're never really getting ahead on anything. The flip side though is that everything is fresh because it doesn't have time to sit anywhere!
How long to you see yourselves being able to work together like this? Do you want kids in the future or anything like that?
Jacob and Sarah: (Both shaking there heads) No, no kids, no.
Sarah: We have a cat, that's about all the caring for another living thing we need.
Jacob: We definitely want to stay with the company, I know that they have plans for the future and there will always be opportunities.
Sarah: Plus, working for Matt is great. He really knows his shit, and we've learned a lot working for him. I think the plan is to just ride it out here and see what happens in the future.