I know you know that when I don't write a blog post for two months or longer that things are either going really well or...
Let's cut to the chase: I quit.
No sympathy please. The warning lights were blinking before I actually packed all my belongings into a U-Haul and traveled across the country. But I guess at heart I just wanted my own kitchen and to do my own food so badly that I ignored all advice. And, I wanted to come home.
After seven years of living in foreign countries (and I think New York can be included in 'foreign countries') it is great to be on native soil. And I am thankful that this opportunity brought me home.
Let's chalk it up to: tough economic times and different goals & expectations. And the fact that the restaurant was completely bankrupt before I even came abord. Being the server, the chef, the cook, the dishwasher, and the kitchen cleaning crew was never going to be sustainable personally. And would never allow the restaurant to be truly successful on many different levels. And I simply can't live off air.
Again, I knew that walking in. So that's a big lesson learned. Why does learning have to feel what I assume childbirth must feel like? Incredibly painful but ultimately rewarding? And then just a blissful memory that makes you want to do it all over again?
But there were fun times and awesome food.
And I must say a big 'Thank You!' to the Nob Hill locals who often pitched in helping me wash dishes or even cook on the line. And there were often flowers that appeared on my prep station, and mint plants, and glasses of outrageously good wine that found their way back to the kitchen – even two enormous barrels for making sauerkraut and pickles!
My chef's table, in the kitchen right next to the line, received great write-ups and was very romantic. I would turn off all lights in the kitchen (accept under the piano) and light candles and play jazz music entertaining couples while cooking them dinner only two feet away from the line.
The private dinner parties always successful...
The countless hors d'oervres parties, often several in one evening with just two cooks (including me) to prep while serving dinner simultaneously were exhausting and a true test of skill or just sheer nerve...
But my deepest regret is not getting the Truffle Burger (or 'Ramin Burger', pictured above, named for a regular who was adamant about having a truffle foie gras burger on the menu) up and running. It was in the works and is delicious. And yes, seared foie gras for an additional charge. Bien sûr!
I guess I'll have to save this one.
I feel great about the food I did and the work I put in and I have no regrets. The restaurant business is tough and it is often hard to accept that even the best intentions, the most skilled and creative employee, and the most sincere hard work cannot save the day. But often, it can't.
So the question is: where am I going to next? And that's a big heavy question because the options include a contract overseas, a position with a legendary San Francisco chef who I get down on my hands and knees and pray to, or my own kitchen in a restaurant that has a successful trendy/chic bar scene.
The options are exciting and I'm still exploring them. I would like the next restaurant I end up at to be the last restaurant I end up at for a good long time.