Notebook, ca. 2003


Today, sifting through some of the old stuff we have under the stairs that lead down from the changing rooms and shower to the restaurant, I found an old notebook. Someone must have left it there when leaving a stage or externship, as it contains notes on old dishes we used to serve ten years ago (I wasn’t around for that; I had to look it up in our ever-growing collection of old menus). Next to a particularly hard to make dish is an annotation:

Screw that! Who needs to eat this? It’s complicated and none of the buffoons[?] will appreciate the work it takes.

Anyone working in this industry has thought along those lines at least a few times. Our craft is fleeting. Unlike carpenters, our art doesn’t live on. A quick glance, maybe an oooh or aaah, a chomp, a chew, done. All we can hope, every day, is to leave a lasting impression with the diner.

More often than not, we don’t. Try as you may, dishes, taste, impressions, have long since taken a backseat behind restaurants and chef’s names, collected like pokemon to show off later. Taste and art are canvases for Facebook posts and “spotting” entries, a game of badges and mutual adoration. And then, once every week or so, someone comes into your dining room who makes it all worthwhile. You glance through the expo window and see their eyes widen, a joyful smile as they dig into something you poured your heart into. And that, more than anything, is why — low wages, long hours, and a life that is nothing like the glamor sold by FoodTV — this is the best job in the world.

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