It’s over- 2008. Yesterday I was checking my email’s spam folder and saw that many spammers had already begun to use 2009 in order to gain top billing in my most often delete file. An instant trip down memory lane began as I realize I have logged another year.
New Year’s Eve was always a great day for me when I had my restaurants running on all cylinders. I always had three menu offerings – Chicken Oscar at 39.95, Filet Mignon at 49.95, and Lobster at 59.95. Yearly I could order about two lobsters. Inadvertently I men would order the filet, women the chicken. The meal included appetizers, salad, dessert and champagne and every restaurant would sell out all three-seating’s. A bail-out evening.
The highlight of the New Year’s Eve evenings had always been the party that Kranston and I hosted for a few special friends. We would invite six to eight couples to join us at a table decorated in high style. The restaurants always glowed a bit brighter on special occasion nights. Black and gold balloons, ribbon meandering through the confetti strewn white crisp table clothes and candles heightened the fascination of the event. Our
It was New Year’s Eve, 1995 and although I had always been specific about the menu choices that I wanted the Executive Chef- in title only- decided that his daily intake of the Food Network between three and four in the afternoon had catapulted him to celebrity fame and skill. By the time I had returned from a make-sure-everything-was going-well- trip to
It was too late to change the menu selections – or the chef, but I knew that if I made it through the evening without being arrested for culinary kitchen manslaughter the year would probably end on a sour note for the culinarian running my kitchen.
The voice on the other end of the phone had a very sexy style to it and when she asked for reservation for one I was rather amazed. When she added she was a vegetarian and very particular a picture began to form. When she told me her name, I knew what I was in for.
When Eve Barrymore, the stunning single guest arrived, she was placed at a small two-top in the main dining room. My table, situated on the opposite side of the dining room, just to the right of the fireplace was in plain view of Ms. Barrymore and I was seated so I could keep an eye on the server throughout the dining room.
It only took 45 minutes for the kitchen to come to a chaos filled standstill. Once the restaurant was full, the kitchen hit the wall. The menu proved too much for the team within fifteen minutes. I shutter every time I watch Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen. That’s T.V. I lived it.
It didn’t take long before the waiter who had been serving Ms. Barrymore came to my table to summon advice. I had told the entire staff that there would be celebrities and important people in the dining room that evening-
As the waiter approached I knew that something had already gone awry at Barrymore’s table. Her salad wasn’t cold. Moments later, he approached again, and again, and again.
Finally, realizing that my evening was going to be totally interrupted, I approached Ms. Barrymore and explained that it would be easier for the both of us if she joined me at my table as I could solve her problems much easier if she were sitting next to me rather than completely across the dining room. She accepted my invitation and we had a very enjoyable evening. It was, without doubt, one of the most memorable New Year’s evenings I have ever had. Even though the kitchen stumbled, as did many guests, and Alan Williams, Clint Eastwood’s building partner, didn’t get as lucky as he would have liked, the night ended on a very bright note.
So as we say goodbye to 2008 and all the tumultuous turmoil of this twelve month wild ride, we should try to end the year on a bright note, with friends, family, toasts for the future and a calendar that is full of open opportunities.
Happy New Year. Have a safe evening.