How Charlie Hallowell Went from Single Dad to Star Pizzaiolo

In this video from Chefs Feed, pizza master Charlie Hallowell tells how unexpectedly having kids at a young age shaped his career.

Read the transcript of this video
[MUSIC] Do you want the real story? Sure. Yeah, okay. My girlfriend who I loved got pregnant. I was twenty. Like I didn't know what the **** I was doing. [MUSIC] You know, I felt really unclear about the future, and I didn't want to have a baby. And she made it clear that if I made her have an abortion, I would be like ruining her life. And so despite the fact that my heart was screaming very clearly to me that I wasn't ready, at the end of the day Like literally at the abortion clinic walked out with her and decided to have a baby. It's probably like the defining choice of my whole life. [MUSIC] The fantasy was we were gonna move to Oakland or Berkley the east bay where she had grown up. But then we got here, it all kind of fell apart and my partner wound up getting a job as a busser at Chez Panisse. It was **** miserable. I would get up at seven in the morning, go to work, come home. She would hand me the baby, go to work, I would stay home alone with the baby and she would come home at 2 in the morning after working at Chez Panisse. [MUSIC] Eventually it kind of tore us apart and we split up. Which was like a hot knife being pushed slowly through my heart. You know? Hannah and I split e life pretty much 50 50 We would do the kid swaps sometimes at Shapinese. And I went one day to pick up the kid. And Cal, who's now the downstairs chef was a line cook. And he was like, well, I don't even know what you do. And I was like, oh, I'm a cook. And he was like, really? Oh, you know there's an entry level job available you should come try out for And I didn't know anything about Chez Panisse. I didn't even know Alice Waters's name at that point. I just knew that it was a fancy pants restaurant that I resented, that my partner worked at, that was partially involved in us breaking up. So I went and tried out, and I worked there for like three days and they offered me a job. [MUSIC] I remember so clearly going to tell Hannah. She went ballistic and I said do you ever want to be with me again? And she's like no absolutely not I don't ever want to be with you again I was like okay great and I took the job. Then, so then we got back together. [LAUGH] Like three years of working together and had another kid. And then we get broke up again. There was a clarity that hadn't been there before. [MUSIC] I loved being a line cook but I was just needing more. I had started to have a vision. For Pizzaiola and I started to write about it. I didn't write business plans, I wrote essays about what it would be like, about what kind of people would be there, about what the music would be like, and what it would smell like. And I remember when Pizzaiola that there was just a way that it was, I would do anything. I would have sold my car. I would have You know I was just totally committed to making it happen no matter what. And I thank God that I had my kids first. Cuz it gave me this sense of what a real commitment was. On this like deep level not like I'm really super committed to loving you until I don't. You know what I mean? And that once you make that commitment, it's massively fueling, that whole blah-blah-blah that everybody says at the graduation speech, about when you're ready to commit the whole universe conspires to help you or whatever, it's actually true, when you fall into a job where life becomes about feeding people. Or nurturing people in some way. It's just such a blessing. I get to grow things and make them delicious and feed them to the people that I love and it's like a dream. And I feel like without that I don't know how I would give, I don't know what I would give. You know. [BLANK_AUDIO]
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How Charlie Hallowell Went from Single Dad to Star Pizzaiolo