Military life can be challenging, rewarding, adventurous and lonely all in one, and nobody knows this better than Shannon Vavich.
Vavich is a Marine Corps spouse of over two decades, mother of seven children and world traveler. She turned her passion and love for food into a successful cooking and home management blog and show on Facebook, The Flying Kitchen.
“Food is my language of purpose and sincerity,” stated Vavich, a self-proclaimed introvert who comes out of her shell when talking about different cuisines from all over the world. “I am interested in learning how food brings people together in different countries and the vulnerable role that the dining table plays in families from all over the world.”
Through The Flying Kitchen, which received its name from Vavich’s military family always “flying” from duty station to duty station, she shares her 18 years of experience working in the food industry as a professional recipe developer and food writer. Over the years, she has taken culinary classes all over the world, from France, Italy, Japan to Morocco. In fact, the North African country is her favorite cooking class experience.
“I had three children at the time and my youngest was only 5 months old,” she said. “My family and I stayed in Morocco for a month, and I had a private chef who taught me the many secrets and flavors of Moroccan cuisine.”
Vavich has always been interested in cooking, especially cake decorating, but she had placed her dreams on hold because, after getting married at 21, she became pregnant with her first child at age 24. It was this pregnancy that prompted her to pursue her dream.
“I was at the Exchange at Camp Lejeune and there was a lady who was doing a demonstration for a cake decorating class. I remember turning toward my husband and telling him, ‘I have to take this cake decorating class because I’m afraid it’ll be the last thing that I’ll ever do for myself!’”
Following the class, she kept practicing at home and even made her own cake for her baby shower. After her first child was born, people started reaching out to her asking her to bake and decorate cakes for their upcoming special events, and she was determined to never turn down an opportunity. However, it wasn’t until her husband began a demanding deployment cycle that she discovered just how important cooking, baking, and decorating had become to her.
“Suddenly, I found myself alone with a baby and I needed something to occupy my time with, something that would give me a reason to get up in the morning, that would allow me to become excited about life, so I could be the best mother to my child and the best wife to my husband,” she said.
Cooking became her way to escape the loneliness and instability that military life can bring, and she found solace in knowing that her cooking routine gave her something she had full control over,.
“Military life is so unpredictable and certainly out of your control as a military spouse,” Vavich said. “You don’t get to decide where you live, when your husband is gone or when you move, and this can cause a lot of stress. I wanted to bring stability into my family’s life, and by giving myself a routine I could follow every day, I found comfort in knowing that finally I had something I could control.”
Vavich also found a sense of belonging in food, something she has strived to provide her children for many years.
“As people, we become attached to certain recipes — think of your favorite family Thanksgiving recipes, for example — because as Americans, we are no longer connected to our food in the way we used to, mainly because we don’t even know where our food comes from most of the time,” she said. “So, to have a family recipe is like having a solid connection to previous generations, and that sense of belonging, along with the memories of being nourished, is something that I want to pass on to my own children.”
Although she has had the opportunity to taste many different types of cuisines, Vavich claims that her favorite food is, “Italian! There is just something about Italian herbs that pleasure all the senses. Think of a basil leaf, for example: you have the vibrant green color, the smell, the taste!”
Vavich is now getting ready to undergo another Permanent Change of Station, and this time her family is heading to Germany. She is looking forward to visiting Europe with her younger children who weren’t born the last time her family had been stationed there, and to become even more acquainted with German cuisine.
To fellow military spouses who might be interested in starting their own cooking business, she said, “Be brave, and starting cooking only if you just can’t stand the thought of not doing it!”
Follow Vavich’s journey at her website, The Flying Kitchen.Read comments