Christmas is my favorite time of year. Enjoying the hustle of bustling stores, crowded streets, horn blowing cabbies and tourists looking for that expensive wine country gift all add delight to my day.
It’s also the catch up month for those of us struggling to make the bottom line numbers we so aggressively projected last year at this time. Holiday parties, those long, lingering lunches supported by continual consumption of expensive beverages, appetizers ordered for fifty, to go, the last minute group of twelve have all added to my enjoyment of the season over the years. Nothing compares to a well-done catering event at Christmas when the host, the guests, and the staff all walk away with smiles on their faces.
I especially enjoy the giving of gifts. I look forward to it with total passion of the season. Although I take part in the spiritual part of the season, I must admit that the commercialization of the month between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is exciting. However, I would much rather give than receive as my closets are overflowing, my bookshelves are buckling and aside from a few mock turtlenecks I want for nothing, except to give a few gifts to fellow restaurateurs who deserve them. Although impractical, the fantasy lingers that if funding were readily available my sleigh would be packed.
Below is a list of friends and acquaintances and the gifts I would bestow on them if I hadn’t spent all of the money on my closet and bookshelf. If your name doesn’t appear, don’t think you’ve been forgotten, the list will continue tomorrow.
Bobby Flay- An uninterrupted afternoon at JG Melon with Harry Feldman, Billy Debetz, and a circle of friends on the hook discussing plans for a new eatery.
Michael Morse- A horse named Rocketship that gallops with the speed of Secretariat, the Smoothness of Man of War, and the friskiness of Seabiscuit. May you always finish first.
Peter Dinkel- The only rope man to purposely confuse Sinatra with Casey Stengel. May your glass remain celebratorily brimming with bubbly, water.
Adam Platt- Experiences that please the palate, inspire the soul and fill your pages with flavorful taste.
Bill Lee- A weekend in Manhattan, all expenses paid, including an afternoon on the hook at JG Melon.
Scott Simms- A winning season with 50-yard line seats to the best college games in the country.
John Cobb– A space double that of Babbington’s with a volume to top The White Horse Tavern.
Paul Dalton – Tickled ivories that dance the night away with romance, passion and flair.
Michael R. McCarty – A week at Lake Como. With Clooney.
Francois Latapie– A bartender with the moves of Louie.
Joe and Laurie Rombi– Smooth sailing and brisk breezes throughout the year, especially, however, until January 21, 2007.
Tony Tollner– Rio Grande success on the latest venture. May the addiction of the soft opening never be cured.
Rochelle Simms– May the river always flow full of trout dancing at your feet. May La Normando be driving the Panettas wild.
Scott Maanum- A Bear twice the size next season. An enjoyable Christmas with family and friends. A trip to California.
Prentice Berge – A very successful 2007, a team that marches to your drum, and a stress-less vacation as a reward for all the hard work and focus you put into your restaurant.
Tom Fritz, Jr. – A winter of content. A summer of packed patios and a fall full of catering.
Andrew Zimmern – Another banner season.
The O’Leary’s – A yard in full bloom, a deck of enjoyment. May all of your coats cover without any holidays.
Sondra Bernstein – Cottages booked to capacity. A deli case brimming with delightful dishes in the morning only to end up empty at the end of each day. The peace of knowing your doing a great job.
David Wetzel – May the passion of the stove stay with you, always.
Thomas Keller – Appreciation for opening your home to the public last Sunday from all of us in the business.
Don Burks – A second lakeside location an hour south of Dallas. It is easier to run two restaurants than it is one. Take the plunge, plus, your boat would be a deduction.
Kathy Burks – A small cottage-like space, possible pink with a white picket fence. A split front door with the aroma of melting chocolate wafting through the air enticing customers to stroll up the walk and enjoy Kathy’s Cookies – hand dipped chocolate peanut butter delights.
Bob Shapiro- A building in Portland, a steak at Jakes, and a red Bentley to drive to Oregon.
Don´t forget, more gift giving tomorrow.