7. 1: A Beginner’s Guide to Opening a Restaurant

In Three Parts

Part 1: Self-Diagnosis

I have a problem. I have tunnel vision. I don’t know how to turn off and I don’t want to.

Something, the late and great, Charlie Trotter said that struck me as a young cook was, ‘If I were any more obsessed, then it might be perverse.’ This, coming from one of the most notorious perfectionists and undoubted obsessives, shocked me. To be great, I thought, to be the greatest, I would be perverse. I would commit my waking life to cuisine. That’s what it takes. That’s where I am.

I am awkward, I have problems talking to people; I don’t know what movies are coming out; I don’t know how the game went last night; I haven’t given my family or friends the love they deserve. I gave it all away and I am sorry, but I couldn’t stop myself.

I am lucky I found my wife when I did.

I think it’s going okay. I think I am going in the right direction. I don’t regret any of the sacrifices I have made — I am glad I made them. There were moments when I found myself beaten up, lost and confused, but I kept going. Further into the abyss. Further.

By facing the unknown, disregarding all caution, and not saving anything for a second chance, I have become what I had originally intended. I am perverse. I am on the other side. I have become a monster.

One of my favorite poems by, one of my favorite author’s, Charles Bukowski, is Roll The Dice. Here it is, in full:

Roll the Dice by Charles Bukowski

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
mockery,
isolation.
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
that.
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with
fire.

do it, do it, do it.
do it.

all the way
all the way.

you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, its
the only good fight
there is.

This poem has been one of my greatest mantras. Isolation is the gift. I love it.

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