I don't find it happening that often but walls do sometimes appear out of thin air. Today I couldn't produce anything. So....veal stock, clean hood screens, and the largely neglected dishpit floor drains. It's glamorous to be the boss, the "chef" sometimes, of a small privately owned operation! But it was all I could force out. It made sense. Monday I went to a food show with all of my staff, had a great time, and kept the weekend going one more day. Tuesday, I was exhausted inside and out so I worked a half day hoping to recover my mind and body but to no avail. Wednesday came in welcomed, bright eyed. I neglected my normal musical solitude in favor of talk radio on the 1/2 hour drive to the restaurant. As soon as the monotony of waking the kitchen equipment up for lunch service ended, I had no idea where to begin. Vegetarian special, papillote special, flatbread special, hints at weekend specials....nothing....an utter void swept over me. The produce guy sent a case of scallions instead of 4 bunches, one of my guys used 4 pieces of leek instead of 4 bunches in a recipe, and I looked at this mass of oniony beauty and saw nothing. So I tried to force it out. Clean and grill the lot....make a broth for a vegetarian dish. Everything seemed flat.
The normal elation at walking around the kitchen eyes searching, to find one specific flavor or color, to lay the foundation of a dish, wouldn't work.
So I did what had been neglected. What felt right. I started cleaning. Deep, deep cleaning. Pulling strips of grease out of hood screens the professsional's power washers never got out. 3 years of grime coming clean. Sounds gross, I know. It's amazing what looks super clean on the surface.
The best part of this whole story is that today did not seem metaphorical until about 5 minutes ago. I had a block. A huge one. You may have had one or two before too. I saw one a few weeks ago on Top Chef w/ the italian looking dude. Don't remember the name....smug guy, hot shot who had a bad day in the kitchen and fell apart making the lamest excuse for a spun up, disguised beef wellington ever. I know where he was. I felt it today. Regardless of other's criticisms, sometimes you actually prevent your own being from tapping into yourself and the flow of your soul that is creativity. Sometimes you just got too much grease or dirt in the works. Stuff you didn't even know was there. Hopefully a deep clean will get things back on track.
I started mine by putting down my knife, teaching someone how to make veal demi, and going for sushi with my wife.
Sushi, for me anyways, from a trusted source, is one of the few opportunities without the help of libations, when I can simply eat, shut up, and enjoy. Other than the sheer experience of scouting for the best and freshest possible, it is not a form of cuisine I would claim to have in my repertoire. Which makes it great. It is a recharge to simply indulge when you have no bias and eat willingly...even though you will spend a fortune and be hungry and hour later. Even if you eat the clever love boat for two....Brennan.
I don't have any ending for this folks. I had a block. I actually worked it out by writing I think, I hope, I am shooting real hard for. People are hungry. Sushi is good. Never eat it in Mexico though....I'm still working back to full strength after 3 plus years.....nighty night and until next time.....
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