When I cook on the line in a restaurant, I like to feed the flames. I twirl my tongs, flip pans and generally create theatrics. I do this for several reasons, I love the fast paced drama of cooking, and like playing a sweaty game of full court basketball, I love being in the zone.
I suppose it’s the same when I write. Once I get in the zone, the words tend to sizzle up and out of me at a rate I can barely control. Not to mention the added component of my ever present need to look and sound cool. I want to be fresh and vibrant in my writing, as I do in my cooking. I don’t want to hold back my thoughts.
Often when composing a dish for a restaurant I have to use restraint. There are many factors to consider in creating dishes for a restaurant, whether it’s for food cost control, consideration of the clientele needs and wants, or to keep in line with cooks aptitudes, or time and space restrictions. In short, with food I have to think out my actions.
The same should be true for my writing, but given the blog format and my tendency to write in the middle of the night with my eyes half closed, I often forget to think about it. Last week I wrote a blog entitled Leap of Faith. The subject concerned my recent move to West County Grill in Sebastopol. I was hired by Chef Jonathan Waxman and Steven Singer to join the team and help Chef Darren McRonald negotiate the food for a business that is open seven days a week. In the blog I related some harsh criticism of the restaurant which had been passed along to me by some sticky minded locals. As a result not only did I hurt a few hard working employees of West County Grill, I broke the cardinal rule of kitchen ethics.
Years ago I was the owner of a restaurant in Seattle called Rover’s (which is currently owned by Chef Thierry Rotereau). During my years in Seattle I enjoyed a solid reputation in the community, while on the other hand I had to put up with endless criticism from other chefs and clientele. Because of this I would often find myself feeling the confused depression of not being able to please everyone. It seemed that regardless of how hard I worked or how much networking I did, there were always plenty of people lining up to slam my work. In the end my wife and I sold the business and I left town feeling exhausted from the effort.
It has been over a week since I wrote that blog and during this past week I have immersed myself in the culture of West County Grill to the fullest extent. What I have found is a group of hard working and dedicated professionals who have been very gracious in allowing me to join the team. It has been an exciting week for me. I love to cook and like I mentioned earlier, I love the theatrics of it all. Hopefully I will be able to provide Darren and his crew with the kind of help they need to continue infusing fresh energy into this project. A restaurant is a living entity which is constantly evolving; you can’t let your guard down for a second. I am simply here to help keep that guard up and I am doing it with a remarkable group of people.