Winning or losing or a chance meeting? What's meant to be.
I thought I came to Orange Beach, Alabama to represent my sponsor, Saucy Mama, in the World Food Championships. Leading up to the competition I struggled with my recipes trying to fit them into the parameters of the contest and I actually had a feeling of dread. My goal was to present my flavors, cook to the best of my ability and hopefully make Saucy Mama proud. The pressure was on like a panini in a sandwich press.
My Cuban Fusion sandwich really is quite delicious. How about those heart shaped red pepper rings?
Saucy Mama is a family owned company that prides itself on supporting home cooks. They love nothing more than gathering folks around a table to enjoy good food. While I did not bring them into the winner's circle I sure felt loved. It was obvious that they were proud of what I had brought to the table. I accomplished my cooking goals and truly had the most wonderful time amongst many friends and my Saucy Mama family.
However, I am writing this morning because I have another story to tell. It's not about winning or losing. It's not about cooking at all, but what's meant to be. The story is about a chance meeting. It's about a simple glance through a restaurant window and how that moment changes your life. A story of a young Navy Corpsman who reached out because he thought he might have recognized, Will's mom. Now I understand why I was meant to compete in Orange Beach.
Meet Brandon. Brandon and William became brothers while stationed in San Diego. He caught a glimpse of me through a window as I passed by a restaurant he just happened to be working in. The following morning I wake up to a FB message:
Brandon: Mrs. Keys are you in Orange Beach
Me: Yes. I am cooking at The Wharf. Sandwich competition
Brandon: I saw you last night. I was bartending at the boat bar and I told myself that couldn’t be you and then I saw FB.
Me: You are giving me the chills
Brandon: I’m upset I did not say something last night. Do you have any plans for breakfast?
Brandon helped Will land this shark during a night spear fishing expedition.
Meeting Brandon is the highlight of my time in Orange Beach. He loves my son and shares many "Will" stories I haven't heard before. We laugh and we cry. He insists on driving me to the airport tomorrow at 3:30 in the morning. He's Will's brother taking care of Will's mom. The love is immense. This is my prize. The catch of the day, so to speak.
This is why I am meant to be at the World Food Championships. A chance meeting, a mutual love and a reminder my dear boy will never be forgotten. Once in awhile I need that.