Do What You Love: Taking Up New Hobbies After 40

Have you ever thought about new hobbies that you would like to explore? I’ve always had a passion for food. To be more precise, the eating of food. I am well known for being the first to try out the new restaurant in town and the always-in-attendance guest at any friends or family events that involve food.

The culture of food runs in our family, with a love for both eating and cooking. My mother cooks quite well, although she usually likes to cook only her favorite recipes. My father cooked very well (he made the best garlic butter shrimp I’ve ever eaten). And my sister cooks amazingly.

My sister would spend endless hours in the kitchen since she was a child with our grandma, an amazing cook, so she became the “chef” in our house. You can imagine that being surrounded by all these great home cooks, I always felt a bit overwhelmed. So I decided to avoid cooking and instead became the food “taster and critic” in our household.

Then I moved out on my own, my sister moved to another country, my boyfriend at the time did not know how to cook and, surprisingly, my interest in cooking started to flourish. I switched from my regular Sex and the City and CSI binge-watching time to fully devoting screen time to cooking shows and online classes.

Cooking was a great hobbie, but...

My cooking phase did not last very long. I got my hard-earned promotion at work, and with it came more time spent traveling than at home and more eating at restaurants than cooking. However, my passion for the world of gastronomy didn’t fade. I simply switched back from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat. And even though I was not actually cooking, I realize now that I was still “studying” food.

I took advantage of business trips and of every meal to learn about new and local flavors and ingredients, including some not so pleasant surprises. Yet even on those occasions, I enjoyed the food wisdom gained with every bite.

Paris and a diploma

Years later came to our move to Paris. A great job opportunity in the city of lights, and a new family adventure that could not be passed up. We liked everything: the language, the parks, the museums, and of course, the food! My biggest joy was having a pastry shop on every corner, each being prettier and better than the previous one. I decided to sign up for a six-hours weekend workshop on Choux pastry at the prestigious Le Cordon Blue institute. I enjoyed it so much that I also took the Macarons class.

Again, I loved it. And I wanted more. Long story short, one convincing application and one approved sabbatical later, my passion overcame my fear and I became a Pastry Diploma student —funny-looking apprentice hat included!

Julia Child once said: “find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it”. Well, after 9 months of tremendous interest and very hard, yet always sweet work, and just like she had done herself 50 years before, I graduated as a Pastry chef. And just like her, I did it shortly before my 40th birthday.

Pastry chef at 40

Pastry school gave me new wonderful friends and new skills that I never thought I could develop. It also made me a very popular person among my friends and neighbors who tried my weekly practice cakes and desserts. Most importantly, it allowed me to gain a healthy confidence in the kitchen - which I already felt in many other areas at this point in my life - and confirmed to me that the saying “it is never too late to pursue new passions” is so true, and not only a phrase on cute wall posters.

I have since gone back to work, but my passion for cooking continues. I think of it as my favorite hobby for now, but perhaps, it could even become a new career for me in the future. I find so much comfort and relaxation when I’m in the kitchen, baking, and cooking to my favorite playlist. And I feel on top of the world when I see the smiles and joy of my dinner guests or when I “catch them” secretly reaching for thirds.

Have you discovered new interests that you love?