I am training cooks. They are half my age and twice as fast. Not always twice as accurate though.
But damn they are confidant. Was I like that. I find myself saying things for the first time since they went in my ear thirty years ago. I feel the presence of my mentors in the kitchen with us, watching me teach. When I was an apprentice my chef Jean Pierre Zagou would laugh and tell me that I looked “like ze doctor of ze cow”. Which I guess meant I was clumsy and awkwardly cautious.
Truth is these kids are good, and will probably be way better than me all too soon. They have never known a world without the food network, never lived at a time when chefs were just cariactures in frozen lasagna commercials. These kids are so respectful and professional. Like the world I dreamed of when I was there age has really come true.
Main thing is they are learning to run the Ba kitchen really fast and by this time next week it will be a powerful efficient engine room of good food.
Ba will kick ass.
If there is a secret chord, it’s in this pot.
I built a restaurant from scratch, by hand mostly by myself.
It was amazing. I chose to do it. I did it the hard way, and now I will open a restaurant, and be a cook. The experience I had of learning new skills, new tools. Navigating the architectural process, the engineering, the bureaucracy was a masters program in development. No, it was like getting two graduate degrees at once while working construction. Even if my restaurant fails miserably the first week, the building of it has been one of the greatest adventures in my life.
They make tv shows about people building houses, they make tv shows about people cooking, but sometimes I feel like no one cares that I am building a restaurant.
That is why I bristle when the first question people ask is “when are you going to open’? A good question and I am very grateful that people are excited about the project. But I want to talk about today! Building a restaurant is a mind blowing experience and everyday is filled with powerful events of success, frustration, tedium, and terror.
I am glad it is ending this week. I’m ready for the next thing. The past few months have been very lonely for me. As I wrestled with the worst part of the financial stress, and physical exhaustion no one was asking about my health, or the adventure I was having, just asking when I would cook for them. So that’s it. When you ask about the opening I feel like you may have missed the most exciting part.
And I am excited to cook for you! I am loving the way the kitchen is beginning to smell like garlic and thyme. I am loving planning the menu and training the cooks for you. We are getting everything ready. It will be awesome. Sorry If I seemed cranky. I worked really hard for you.
I have to go unpack the food delivery now.
Today I got 23 text messages.
8 phone calls.
18 e mails.
two friendly visitors.
Interviewed two prospective employees.
One plumbing inspection.
Two unwelcome visitors.
Four of those calls were sales calls, and two had been told to never call me.
But each and every person I came in contact with asked me about ten questions each.!!!!!
Only one person showed up to work today, Misael. Who speaks no English and not much Spanish. I will refer all questions to him from now on.
If you are a salesman, or an inspector the answer to your question is: NO I CAN NOT FAX IT TO YOU!! You can come here and pick it up or you can join the 21st century but please do not make me jump through anachronistic hoops just so I can give you money!!!
The answer to every other question is: Maybe if I were allowed to focus on cooking I would move a little closer to feeding you. Don’t ya think?!
These just arrived in the mail from Bragard in L.I.C. I remember proudly going down to the factory to get measured for my first tailored whites when I started my own catering company.
Lets see if these still fit.
Restaurants sell food. Art gallerys sell art. They both should stay out of each others business. There is nothing tackier than price tags on art in a restaurant. It is a visual signifier of the old chestnut we tell to artists: “you’ll get exposure”. Art is not an afterthought. It may even be more important than the food.
If you want to support the arts go buy art. If you are unsure of which art to buy, then hire a curator.
If you want to see real art then go down to CB1 gallery on Spring and 5th next Sunday for the opening of Timothy Nolan’s new show. Then if you can, sneak into the rack room and see some of Jaime Scholnick’s work. Or you can come to Ba and see their work there.
You know when you get a new apartment, you buy a new toothbrush to go with it? You get a bunch of new stuff because your old stuff doesn’t look right in the new place, and you know you will be going to sleep and waking up here so there is no denying that this is where you live.
This is my day.
We passed our final inspection. We have been given permission to sell food, beer, and wine. Our building has been approved by 11 city agencies in over twenty inspections. Our kitchen has been approved by the county health department, and state has given us our beer and wine license.
This has been close to eighteen months in the making. Thousands of hours, tens of thousands of dollars, strained friendships, despondency,frustration, and exhilaration. There were times I gave up hope.
I cannot remember why I started this. I have been so immersed in building codes and so consumed with the labor of construction work I am having trouble changing hats. I’ll get there, but right now I don’t know what to do with myself.
This is weird.