I leave for Boston in one week to begin my culinary externship with America’s Test Kitchen. It will be a bittersweet summer — a chance of a lifetime that comes with the high price of leaving my husband and daughter for three months.

I’m not sure what my plans will be when I return. I’ve come a long way in terms of my food writing, securing recurring writing assignments with Food Network, BlogHer, and The Orlando Sentinel, in addition to Chef2Chef. I also had the opportunity to write recipes for Martha Stewart Radio and Cooking with Emeril this year, and have contributed to two cookbooks, Dinner for Busy Moms, and The Flexitarian Cookbook.

Despite my writing success, I still feel I’ve got loads of catching up to do in the Chef-ing part of my career. Switching careers from a high paying marketing/film job with Disney, at the age of 38, wasn’t easy. But I think if I had started this culinary adventure in my twenties, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it or appreciated it as much as I do right now.

I learned early on that restaurant life is not for me, after shadowing at Norman’s in Orlando one evening. I have so much respect for the entire process that goes into running a successful restaurant like Norman’s; it was an amazing experience to be on the line with his chefs, even for that one night. They were very kind and patient with me — I was accurate with my knife cuts, but slower than molasses!

America’s Test Kitchen will involve everything I love: recipe development and testing, food writing and editing, marketing, food styling and photography, and television production, without the pressure of 300 covers in a 2-hour time span.

So maybe that’s my answer? When I get back, I just have to concentrate on finding a position with a similar test kitchen. Alton Brown, are you hiring?