Usually a blank sheet of paper gives me a rush, a palate to scribble ideas about food, dishes, cuisine choices and of course the inevitable how to questions. I begin to bring my thoughts to attention, moistening my fingers leafing through the pages of Harold McGee, The Food Lab and 177 Milk Street. This was a way of life for me for as long as I can remember. It was, in fact, a raison d’etre of my life of 66 years with too many twists and turns to remember or better yet, the longing to forget some of them. With the sun yet to come up in our dining room, I can tell you what day it is only because I own an iPhone. Sunday, what would I be doing a month ago Sunday? When I say Monday is my favorite day of the week, it is a true statement. I love what I do, I love my kids (staff) and I can’t wait to see them after two days away from I’m sorry I’m late, I can’t come in I’m sick, hungover, I have to go to court, I couldn’t call because I don’t know the number or even better, I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant (yes, this was an actual excuse) has been set aside and forgotten. I also look forward to our guests that thankfully join us on a daily basis. There is a huge commitment that each of these personal energies play in the roll of being a restauranteur. Sunday, a month ago, was a day to maybe meander into the restaurant and check on a few things. I might have to work a Sunday prep shift on an alternate week. While having a “cuppa” (see Harry Potter) with Lisa, we would talk about “work”, jot down a prioritized hit list of what we must accomplish by what time Monday morning while going through the specials of the week. I would develop a mental picture of expectations I have for each of our kitchen staff while Lisa mulled over her catering, order sheets and recipe ideas. Every day’s plan dictated a wake up and arrival time. You didn’t have to ask yourself the day or date as you labeled numerous prepped items the day before. This was a life that had structure, reason and almost always fun results. I was living my passion; I knew who I was and what I did for a living. At our Restaurant we are a team of hosts and cooks that create a buzz in our downtown world, not dwelling on our past victories, we are focused on what we’ll do to be better today than yesterday. I could see it in our Take Five Cookery Family members eyes. A burning passion to blow away our guests, remembering names having fun bantering back and forth. Cooks taking pictures of our kitchen creations, posting them to show peers from other restaurants, is all about shear pride. Today I am a cook with an iPhone, I used to plan and cook for hundreds, now I lovingly cook for two. I wake up at four, five or six in the morning only to return to bed and sleep until whenever. This is a time that truly tests character, maybe feeling a loss of compass. Days that you normally shrug off a cough or headache to spring allergies turns into “Oh No”. My heart aches with the loss of contact in my life, purpose and normality. The restaurateur reality of daily entertaining has been brushed away with little fanfare. I don’t feel sorry for myself; I am going through this unprecedented time with the love of my life. I feel only for the uncertain future this brings to all our lives and silently hope for a dash of normality to the pot.
Be well be safe