Almost ten years ago, I remember anxiously awaiting the latest copy of Creative Loafing, with what was to be my first mention in an Atlanta paper. OK, any paper, unless you count my hometown local that had written about how fast I got pinned as a high school wrestler. It would be just a quick mention in CL. The tiniest blurb, but the type of thing that a young chef dreams of. I remember driving to Fellinis to see if the print edition had been released. After four visits and scouring the distributing cases up and down Peachtree Street with no luck, I finally went back to my apartment.
After midnight, I woke up and went out again. It was easy to bounce up and go because I slept with my clothes on, with my television playing, stuck on the Food Network, and with whatever celebrity chefs book du jour sprawled out over my chest.
I never got that mention. After all the waiting and anxiety, the blurb just mentioned the name of the restaurant, the owners and, of course, the name of the previous chef. Oh well.
Later that night I headed into work. Very early. Bakers hours. I prepared the restaurant for lunch service and set everything up. All the stations. Every sauce strained twice, and every nine pan filled. The grill on. The protein portioned. The menu printed. The side towels neatly folded and anally arranged on every cooks cutting board. The dishes washed. Breakfast made for the staff. Coffee brewed.
The sun hadnt even come up yet.
It was a time I remember well. And its in that spirit, the one of the hard working, young chef, that I embark on this new adventure, almost 10 years later.
Today of course, I dont get to any of my projects before sunrise. Ive given away almost all of my cookbooks, seriously. Google alerts make sure that every tiny blurb about any Richard Blais (and there are a lot, as Blais is a very common name in Montreal) gets to me instantly. And Ill taste the sauces, but dont usually make them. Its a different life. Not necessarily any easier, but different.
Truth is, I have Atlanta to thank for this different life. This city, and the people wholl be reading this paper. In thanks, I hope to over time give you some insight into the world of a chef. I dont want to write about the molecular deconstruction of a carrot at 85 degree Celsius. Boring. And I dont want to discuss walk-in hookups, or why you should eat seafood on Tuesdays. Fun, but not me. Instead, I might write about what a restaurant and chef go through in the days preceding a major review. Why kitchens and locker rooms are quite similar. Or why the ultimate struggle for any chef is the balance of quality vs. profit. Ill attempt to give you my insight to those questions and answer yours.
Ill field as many questions as I can. Ill take some harsh critique from real people behind ridiculous screen names. And hopefully add a dash of something, although Im not sure what, to an already formidable team.
The rules are simple. I wont be writing about any of my projects in Atlanta. My boss, my chef, my editor, the food critic, who Ive sworn profanity at from the comfort of my own kitchens at times, wont have it. And neither will I.
Its quite funny actually. How many text messages have I sent outlining my theory that bloggers arent really writers? And now with all the intended irony, Im a writer.
But I know for certain this time that Ill be seeing my name in the paper. Unless this is some sort of culinary Punkd (it has crossed my mind).
Maybe Ill be able to sleep this time. With an early bedtime, and from my family home in Candler Park, not my bachelors flat in Peachtree Battle.
But, this is very much like 10 years ago. Im still anxious to see my name in Creative Loafing...
jr, why are u talking?
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