TAP INTO YOUR INNER HAPPINESS

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DEBORAH CAPLAN

CREATOR OF SELF WORTH

PROFESSIONAL CHEF

Deborah Caplan is one of those people who embodies a happy and cheerful energy.  She's a professional chef with plenty of camera experience having competed on Food Network's "Chopped" where she won twice and Iron Chef where she's still undefeated! Deborah used to work at Butter under celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli and then she went on to become the Executive Sous Chef at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Brooklyn. Recently she decided to become a personal chef which proved to be right decision for her to have creative freedom. Deborah opens up about she learned to love herself and overcome any fear.

WHAT IS HAPPINESS FOR YOU?

Happiness is finding self worth for me. That's where I found happiness. I thought that happiness came from everything outside of me. I'm 32 now, about to be 33 and that's something I just figured out last year. I think I was always able to give happiness, and be joy to other people in situations I was in but I always struggled with happiness within. I figured that out and in the past year of my life I finally know what falling in love with yourself is. So yea, if you don't have it within, happiness is temporary and always determined on outside sources. So you tackle getting to know yourself and getting to understand why you tick.

I AGREE. I THINK SELF WORTH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING - TELLING THE WORLD THAT YOU MATTER AND BEING HAPPY WITH YOURSELF AND COMFORTABLE WITH YOURSELF.

It's true you know I'm incredibly blessed to have the family that I have because they kind of set the platform for who should be in my life and who I should let in. I've just been blessed in that area so I always feel like I have a backbone, even when it's not my own. They've always been there to show me my worth and value and set the tone for everyone else who I should let into my life. But even if you didn't have that family and those friends and those people to keep you grounded, you still have to find something within that you know makes you proud of yourself. You know, I'm ok with everything else being horrible in my life as along as I'm ok with who I am as a person and who I'm trying to be. We should always take steps to be better. For the longest time I had check boxes of like as long as I'm dating somebody or as soon as I get married or I have a kid, everything is going to work out and I'm going to be happy. But what if those things never happen you know? So it's important to just find it. One of my favorite cartoons is somebody holding a balloon that says happiness on it and somebody else coming up and being like "where did you find that!" And the little cartoon said "I made it myself." It's just a corny and beautiful thing to understand that happiness is already there. You just have to tap into it.

HOW DO YOU FIND HAPPINESS WHEN YOU'RE SURROUNDED BY CHALLENGES?

With stress? Breathing....seriously breathing and just not overwhelming the situation with problems because when you're going through something stressful you tend to pile on. I think it's a matter of taking one thing at a time and dealing with it the way you need to deal with it the best way you possibly can. I think sometimes it's easy to when you're feeling stressed or sad to relate to that misery and you want to feel it sometimes. Sometimes it's hard to just step out of it. I don't know if that makes sense but when you're feeling sad you want to cry. When you're feeling frustrated you want to throw something. You want to do all these things and you know it's healthy to an extent to go and break something but I think also you have to find that place where you have the strength to just step out of it. Take a deep breath because you don't need to completely fall down this hole. You can hold yourself up high and get through it. At the end of it when you go through that, whether it's a competition show or a breakup, sometimes you just need to step back and realize it's ok and I'm going to get to where I need to go and that's all that matters.

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It's not about walking into a room and thinking that you're better than everyone else. It's about walking into a room and knowing what you have already and being the best you can be.

I'VE SEEN YOU IN COMPETITION AND IT SEEMS REALLY STRESSFUL. WOULD YOU SAY THAT SOMETIMES THESE STRESSES AND NEGATIVE THINGS ARE REQUIRED FOR YOU TO GET TO SOMEWHERE THAT IS WORTH IT?

To that level of stress I don't know haha. I mean really when you're on the show you need to breath so deeply. Your brain is going a thousand miles a minute. But I'd say more than the actual competition, going on Chopped especially, was the process leading up to it. The training for it as we would say where we had to go through the whole process at work. At the end of the first one, I literally was balled up in the corner crying because I thought that I can't do this. I can't be vulnerable on national television and what if I mess up and what if I'm not good enough? What are people gong to think of me if I fail? It's just so silly to have those thoughts because there is no failure, you just try. You just do your best and yea, I just got passed that fear of failing. I just got confident in the abilities that I already had and the strength that I already had and I decided to work with it. This is what I have to work with and this is what I'm going to go in there with. It's not about walking into a room and thinking that you're better than everyone else. It's about walking into a room and knowing what you have already and being the best you can be. I think that once I got that into my brain, I was like "what do I have to lose?" Just put yourself out there and do something scary that's going to make you better.

I THINK THAT TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL CHEF YOU HAVE TO BE CREATIVE AND DEVELOP YOUR OWN PERSONALITY AND BE RECOGNIZED BY SPECIFIC THINGS THAT ARE YOURS. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BEING CREATIVE AND BEING HAPPY?

Man that is a tough relationship that I always have because I mimic a lot and I think I've been doing that the last couple years of my life. You know you look at art and you mimic it, and I've seen art from very talented chefs where I'm like "I wanna do that." I'll always have my little spin on it but I feel like a lot of what I do right now is mimicking other people. I need to find my voice in my field and I think becoming a personal chef is a way that I'm just now starting to see what my style is and those things. I think right now creativity is where I need to work on as a chef. But I think as far as happiness goes, being creative and being allowed to make food that I really don't have to answer to - I mean I have to answer to my clients but they're so happy with the things I make and I'm able to say that nobody told me to make this. I think that has made me happy on another level. To take a leap of faith in this industry and put myself out there, put my food out there and have it well received is awesome.

SO WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU NEED FREEDOM IN ORDER TO BE CREATIVE? AND THAT BRINGS YOU HAPPINESS?

Yea, absolutely. There's also roadblocks and stigmas in this industry where being a personal chef is not necessarily the most glamorized version of chef. It's like the "you couldn't make it in a restaurant sell out." I still struggle with that a little bit when I tell people that I'm a personal chef now because it sounds better to say that you're a Sous Chef or an Executive Sous Chef at this restaurant or that restaurant that's well known. But that lifestyle never made me happy. So it's stepping into myself and seeing why I wan't happy there, what do I really want, what kind of lifestyle do I want and not caring about what other peoples definition of success is in my industry. So it took a really strong leap of faith to step into a world that I knew would make me happier but maybe other people would look down on it. But that freedom to do what I love and to have that one on one connection with the people I'm cooking for and you know to make an impact in their lives versus throwing out dishes at a restaurant. To actually be in their homes and cook for their family, to help them, that to me is happiness in my industry. 

 

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The hardest thing I've ever done is to learn to love myself.

WHEN YOU BECAME A "SELL OUT" YOU GOT THIS FREEDOM TO EXPLORE AND FIND YOURSELF AND I THINK THAT GIVES YOU AN ADVANTAGE.

I think it's all about what you value. it's silly for people to make definitions of what a career path should be, what it should look like. I don't care about James Beard awards, I don't care about Michelin Stars. It's never been my goal. I've never wanted to own a restaurant because I think restaurants are exhausting. They take time away from family and I think it's really hard to have balance in life when you own and operate a restaurant. Granted I say this now but who knows what's going to happen in the future. But as of right now in my life, that didn't work for me. Being a personal chef would sound horrible to at least ten different people I know who are chefs. They would hate being a personal chef but that's their career path and their life. They want to be behind the scenes and they want the awards and the accolades. I'm ok with the human interaction. The human element that was taken out of my life for so long; especially being put into an Executive Sous Chef position, they wanted to take that human element out of me. 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE HARDEST THING YOU'VE EVER DONE?

The hardest thing I've ever done is to learn to love myself. I don't know why it took 31 years but that was the hardest thing. I've gone through a lot of very challenging things in my life - mostly dealing with myself. But the thing I could not figure out how to do for so long, and I couldn't understand why, was falling in love with myself. It took reaching rock bottom, then rock bottom after that to really hit it and still get up every single time and that last time that I hit it and got up again I realized that there is still something inside of me that wants to keep going. There's still something that loves and respects me so lets just tap into that. Let's just tap into her a little more because she keep being strong for me. So it took a really long time and obviously we all have mountains to climb when it comes to being a good person and finding ourselves but it finally clicked.

WHAT IS ANY PIECE OF ADVICE, ANYTHING YOU LEARNED THE HARD WAY OR ANYTHING THAT YOU CONSIDER VERY VALUABLE FOR PEOPLE LISTENING TO THIS?

There are moments where there's a little voice in you that either says something is good for you or not good for you. It's very subtle sometimes. It can be in relationships, in a job or whatever it is. But we all have that little voice inside of us telling us "you probably shouldn't do that." I think it's important to get in touch with it. As hard as it is, listen to that little voice that always turns on. People say that it's signs or whatever but there's always this very strong feeling you get in a situation when you start something new and I think you should pay attention to those things because it's probably going to be that you keep something going or you end something. So pay attention to what you're saying. Trust your gut.

Watch the full interview here:

Dexter Black