My daughter Georgia likes to sum up my career by saying, “My dad was a chef and then he met water.”
Truer words have never been spoken. Yes, I started my professional life as a chef, trained in the fine art of French cuisine. But then I “met water” and became a professional in the aquatics industry building and maintaining beautiful bodies of water, mostly pools and spas. Like the fine foods I used to prepare, the water our company provides is, by my reckoning, a work of art.
The main reason I found this profession, however, long predates any professional interest. I was raised on Long Island, New York, an area that is largely defined by the oceanic waters that surround it. It’s a corner of society that draws its character, culture, and joie de vivre from the water. Like many in these parts, and other places with similar fluid fixations, I grew up a child of the aquatic experience.
For as long as I can remember, back to when I was three years old when my parents first took me to the beach, I’ve been captivated by the ocean and how it always overloads my senses and catapults my spirit. The shimmer of the sunlight on the sparking surface, the sound of the surf, the smell of the spray, and the sensation of buoyancy, all of it is permanently hardwired in my psyche. Later on, as a teen and then as an adult, I embraced sailing as a way to connect with the water. Never have I felt more carefree and joyful than those long treks across the waters of this beautiful region and other places as well. It’s always been my happiest place.
A Deep and Profound Emotional Impact
I realize all of that has been said countless times by others over the ages, but there’s a reason that so many people feel the same way. Water really and truly does have the deepest and most profound impact on our emotions. While the mechanism of that effect is tough to define exactly, we know it’s real because of the way we mark time by the water. It creates memories and psychological bonds you can’t find anyplace else.
Truth be told, water holds the only real magic I know of. Is it that our bodies are comprised of two-thirds water or that over 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered in water? Or is it that we need water to survive or that aquatic environments are alien to us, forbidding and even dangerous? Or is it that we gestate in a fluid environment before we’re born? It’s probably all of those things to some degree, but whatever the pathology, our fascination with water is an essential component of the human experience. Or, at least it has been for me.
Now, as I spend my days as the chef who met water, I’ve come to know and appreciate it on an entirely different level. The technical disciplines alone are enough to encompass an entire lifetime of learning. Then there’s the joy of creating bodies of water in people’s homes and communities that provide them with the excitement and fun that has been with me since childhood.
I realize this is all very idealistic and I don’t mean to undersell the many practical challenges of an aquatic career. Like any other worthwhile pursuit, working in this field can be brutally difficult, frustrating, and even at times seemingly unrewarding. Still, this is a vocation that is directly tethered to the nascent aquatic experiences so many of us share and cherish. That’s why, despite the challenges, I never feel far removed from the joy of meeting water for the very first time.
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About the Author
Steve Kenny is an aquatic designer, builder, and service technician with more than 25 years of experience. Based in Long Island, New York, he specializes in designing, building, and maintaining commercial and residential pools and spas that feature the highest possible water quality.
He is a passionate advocate of creating a new class of aquatic professionals devoted to the science, methods, and art of ensuring pristine water conditions. Steve was formally trained in the culinary arts and has a passion for fine dining. He is an accomplished photographer and sailing enthusiast. He is also a passionate advocate of the benefits of hydrotherapy.
A devoted family man, Steve lives in East Hampton with his bride of 20 years and their three children.