“What chefs should accept is that the people who are judging them have less knowledge than they do.” ~ Marco Pierre White
I’d like to start with a great story and an even better life lesson. My son Tate who’s in kindergarten has been talking about a boy at school who’s been mean to him. Tate has also declared that he’d like to fight the boy but that has been discouraged. A few days ago Tate had a red mark on his face and reported that he had been pushed into the snow by the mean boy. Jennifer decided that was enough and needed to speak to his teacher before Tate either got hurt, or clocked the kid and found himself in trouble. The next day Tate came home and announced that he had made a new friend at school. When questioned he said that the mean boy came to his classroom to apologize. Tate told him it was OK and then asked the boy if he wanted to be his friend. The boy hugged him.
“We practically always excuse things when we understand them” ~ Mikhail Lermontov
We often don’t know why people are mean, why they’re poor, why they’re depressed, or difficult, sad, alone, or in any other position. We know nothing about that boy but my guess is that he needed a friend and a hug for a reason. The next time you don’t understand someone’s behavior, actions, or situation simply offer to be their friend.
My first visit to The Wine Bar was just before I opened the kitchen at Chameleon on the Lake whose owner took me there to see the taste some food. I remember liking the size of the place and vibe at the time and soon made it one of the places I took pleasure in spending some of my time off and enjoying the food and wine. I always thought if the chef’s position opened up I was going to get it if I could.
Well, the position opened up several days prior to the start of the 2011 racing season and I was hired quickly to take the place through the impending onslaught and happened to remain for a bit of time (aside from a brief and poorly concocted absence in 2014). We eventually parted ways on January 5, 2016.
I found myself days later at The Inn at Erlowest as a consultant and leading candidate for their Chef’s position as a result of some discussions with the General Manager of the property prior to my departure from the WB. That didn’t materialize.
Over the next couple of years I floundered while working at a couple of places and doing a couple of consulting gigs while working my small catering business. Everything has kept me afloat and the lack of true commitment to an employer has allowed me to handle some personal situations.
On January 2nd I got an email from the GM at The Inn at Erlowest as I was writing him an email. They are in search of an Executive Chef and he inquired about my possible interest in the position while I was inquiring about their open Executive Chef’s position. That’s a coincidence for sure. Add that on January 5,2018 I sat at The Wine Bar and discussed my return and got an offer to oversee the kitchen again, two years to the day that I last walked out of the building. That’s coincidence.
Those of you that follow this blog know how up and down my life has been over the last couple of years since I left the Wine Bar. I’ve dealt with personal tragedy, intense life changes, deep personal discovery, alcohol misuse, and lack of direction and focus in life and career. I have not hidden much from you and will continue to let you into the life of this chef.
“Often people who criticize your life are usually the same people who don’t know the price you paid to get where you are today. True friends see the full picture of your soul.” ~ Shannon L. Alder
I have taken a long rest and my body and mind have been through a lot of healing. With cpap I’ve gone from ninety apnea episodes per hour to under five allowing me to get sleep for the first time in years. I have battled my long-term depression head on through medication and therapy, and I have completely altered my alcohol habits.
Over the past week the WB offer has developed into an agreement and I am delighted to announce that I’m returning to take my place back in the kitchen as their chef. I am looking forward to working with some old friends and to working with new associates and colleagues. They say it’s better to join the devil you know rather than the one you don’t. I use the term devil as part of a well-known expression but am compelled to point out that the descriptor is much stronger than I intend. The point is that both parties know what they’re getting in this deal and there are enough good qualities on both sides to continue with the relationship.
From this point on I will focus this blog on food, restaurants and a chef’s working life. I have covered my personal issues adequately and am far enough away from the mental and emotional breakdown I experienced that I can move on with those things that need moving on with. Although I still have demons to fight I am in a much better state now. I have been given the very rare gift of a “do over.”
“I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be, but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see.” ~ Douglas Pagels