Greetings and salutations, apologies for the infrequency of posts. Truly, there hasn’t been much of note going on that would be worth mentioning or reporting so I’ve spared you the details of a mundane life.

My short tenure at a restaurant near my current restaurant which is owned by a nice but rather easily-impressed gentleman who fawned over anyone with a title or a fat wallet recently ended. The owner’s reach exceeds his grasp unfortunately, and I suspect they have already hit the restaurant’s half-life. Recently appearing on Check Please!, a restaurant review show based in Chicago, they seem to have forgotten that the kitchen facilities are not large enough to support a huge influx of business without hugely increased wait times for meals (which begins the ripple effect of stressed servers, angry cooks and apologetic management, which then begets poor word of mouth, whispers of ineptitude and then potential total failure). The prestige of having been on the show and the make-or-break aura surrounding it was too much for him to pass up, I suspect at the reticence of his chef, and so he signed on. It doubled the lunch business and also increased dinner, but at what cost, I wonder. Fortunately for me, I got out in time to avoid finding out.

It was a case of yet another middle management throwing someone under the bus to keep the oblivious owner happy. While enjoying my view of the crankshaft, I decided to explore greener pastures if they didn’t do it for me. They did, and I’m much better for it. I do think they dig their own graves in the forms of recipe/ingredient/influence thievery, greed for an audience who won’t stay with them over the years and who will take their money elsewhere when the next interesting thing comes along, and managers who have no balls. I’m happy to be off that listing ship.

But, happily, I still have my other fantastic home to go to. I just hit my year mark and am happier than ever. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it – I’d do it for free. I love it, even when I have my “I hate people” moments. The sycophants, the chef-o-philes, the celebrity hounds, the tourists with cameras, the occasional mouth-breather… everyone goes through this. But when it’s time for them to leave and I hand off their coats, I ask them how it was and listen genuinely because I want to know. And in the asking, have received some of the most lovely compliments about our little operation that a person could hear. Most recently I was told (by the girlfriend of someone in the industry, who no doubt sees and hears it all), that what she loves about us is that she can’t tell the difference between management, host, server and bartender because we all operate the same way.

It sounds simple I know, but think about the last time you really looked at a room. The hosts are almost always the sore thumbs of the bunch. The bartenders are disaffected separatists. The managers are running around crazy and afraid. The servers, focused and serious or light and smiling. They are obviously operating at different levels. But not us, apparently. We do it right. And this makes me so proud because it shows a respect amongst all ranks. Hosts are almost always the lowest of the low (and I’ll here refrain from reminding everyone of what it is that we do exactly, and why we’re as important as everyone else) so it’s nice to be recognized as part of the team.

Last week I was given my schedule and found that I am working today, a Sunday. We’re closed on Sundays so of course, something was up. Turns out, it’s a fancy-pants benefit buyout. Management hand-picked the staff they thought would fit best for the task, and I was so flattered to be on the list. Thing is, as nice as that is, it’s not why I’m happy to be working.

My particular brand of celebrity, the hot ear-inducing, fidget-inspiring lot, are chefs. Not even celebrity chefs, but folks that know exactly what to do with food to turn people (read: me) on. There will be six in attendance today including our own, and I am most excited by Michael Symon of Lola and Lolita in Cleveland. We have people in common, but he also appears so very down to earth and cool that I don’t know… is it nerdy… I just kinda wanna be around them and hope they say hello to the lowly front of house staff.

This is the guest chef breakdown:

Guest Chefs Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco, Pane Bianco and Bar Bianco in Phoenix; Paul Kahan of Blackbird, Avec and the Publican in Chicago; Suzanne Goin of Lucques and AOC in Los Angeles; Iron Chef Michael Symon of Lola, Lolita and Bar Symon in Cleveland and Roast in Detroit; Marc Vetri of Vetri and Osteria in Philadelphia and Paul Virant of Vie in Western Springs, IL.
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