Just as I’m draining the pasta, I hear “Wow, you’re finished already?”

Me: “Yep, just in time.”

Owner: “HAHA. You do realize you’re an hour early…right?”

Me: “What?!!!”

Owner: “Dinner isn’t served for another hour.”

Me and my internal dialogue: “F@%K, did I really just hear that? What do you mean dinner isn’t for another hour? What time is it? It’s only 17:00. S*#T. How did I F@%K that up?”

Yep, I was an hour early. And not only five minutes before, I was so proud of myself for getting the three-course pasta dinner ready to serve to 30 guests “on time.”

It was my first Pasta Night as the acting chef of Casa San Carlo in Monteleone d’Orvieto, Umbria, Italy, where David and I were doing one of our first WorkAways.

If you aren’t familiar with WorkAway or WOOFFing, it’s an experience where you exchange a few hours a day of work for room and board with hosts around the world. It’s a fantastic way to form new relationships, make new friends and gain insight into new cultures while living with locals. You also have the added benefit of learning new skills.

David and I joined WorkAway so that we could gain experience working at B&B’s because we had the dream of owning a B&B one day. Casa San Carlo, a self-contained apartment style B&B, was our second WorkAway experience and I had already screwed up by having dinner prepared an hour early.

By this point, David, my lovely sous chef, and the owner were laughing their asses off at me. Of course, I can just imagine my expression at that moment as I’m realizing that I got the time wrong.

Fortunately, the owner took it in stride and rounded up the guests, with a quick explanation of the chef wanting to go home early. Needless to say, I got teased a lot that evening.

We spent six wonderful weeks in beautiful Monteleone d’Oriveto, cooking up three-course meals, caring for guests and keeping the grass mowed. We made a lot of new friends, enjoyed excellent food and wine, learned new recipes and explored the Umbria valley. Springtime in Italy is fantastic. But then again, anytime in Italy is fantastic.

Lesson learned: Always double check the clocks and the timing before dropping the pasta into the pot.

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