Monday, June 29, 2009

When The Doors Close

I have always wondered why I have never met a Chef before working at The Restaurant. When most people are wrapping up their nights of debauchery at around midnight, The Chefs are just taking off their coats and aprons and starting their wind down from the past 12 hours of intense work. 

At The Restaurant, closing servers, the hostess, and The Chefs all convene around the seven person bar. The bartender pours me a glass of an opened bottle of Prosecco that will not keep, or a well vodka shot from a bottle that is about to be done. The Sous and The Head Chef don't come right away. They stand, hunched and motionless over the giant Boos Block, intently fixing their eyes on the puzzle called the menu; deciding what to change and what to keep depending what produce Frank will bring in tomorrow. 

The music at the bar gets turned up a couple of notches. Last Thursday, it was Michael Jackson tunes over and over again, that turned into a rather mild dance party with some of the staff from a restaurant down the street. We all proceed to fill our empty bellies with distilled liquor, and laugh, or bitch, about the day, and get to know each other a little better than during the 12 hours that we just worked together. Some people subtly dance in their chairs, some go for a smoke, others are pensive and observe the room, The Head Chef crunches numbers from the day while drinking a Perroni, and I just soak it all up. 

I can't get enough. 

On Friday nights we get a pizza (that is not on the menu) from one of Chef M's best friends, or we meet with some other Chefs and continue drinking at their restaurants, depending on the amount we drank the night before. On Saturday, if you were awake, you would have found us at IHOP on Capitol Hill at 3:30am. 

We sat around the table- two Sous Chefs, a lead server, a hostess, and a Stage- at the chaotically busy restaurant, inhaling Sausage Gravy covered Chicken Fried Steaks and Strawberry Jam filled Crepes thinking how amazing it all tastes. The Sous convinces me to get the appetizer sampler. My stomach lining is screaming from the inside, asking me what the heck I am thinking mixing Dark and Stormy's, Vodka Gimlets, and Prosecco, and then eating processed ConAgra food. But, I was hungry. 

This is a huge lifestyle adjustment. I am a morning person who likes to go to bed early and get my solid 9 hours of sleep. I generally never eat late, unless I am performing, and certainly don't drink on a daily basis. Well, actually, the drinking part is a lie. 

Yet, for some reason, I yearn for this lifestyle and for these people. 

It's another family. One that understands your schedule, your mood, and your passion. It is a familiar feeling only known by people who are in intimate environments for many hours at a time. It is just another confirmation for me that ballet and Chefdom are similar worlds; A feeling that I am obviously attracted to, and seek out. 

I now sleep in past 10:00am, don't drink enough water for my kidneys, eat dinner at around 1:00am, and don't want to cook on my days off. I am a changed person.

I adore all of the people I work with, and all the new people I meet through them, I am so glad that I have finally stayed up late enough so we could finally meet. 


  1. Ha. I live two blocks away from that IHOP, but I was dead asleep at 3:30 am. It's another world, isn't it? In my world I go to bed at 11, am up around 6:30-7:00, at work by 7:30. I leave work at 3:30 or so, with the rest of the afternoon ahead. Sometimes I see staff from Spinasse, or Lark, having a snack at Cafe Presse before their day begins, just as mine has ended.

    A while ago I had lunch at the bar of a certain Pike Place Market restaurant. The very nice bartender explained to me, this restaurant was the kind of place where the staff got together before shift, had a drink, talked about how the day was going to go. At the end of the night, they'd have another drink (probably more than that), and talk about how the evening went. A very civilized way to work and live, no?

  2. To all the Chefs at The Restaurant: Thank you for turning my wife into a night owl! Something I've been unsuccessful at! Nice work! And don't let her fool you, the first thing she wants after a night out is fast food. Don't we all?

  3. Kairu-Yes. That is how this restaurant is too: a family. It is so refreshing to see. Everyone is supportive and works together like a well-oiled machine.

    Erik- You know I love a late night stop at Dick's for a burger:)

  4. Kari,
    Be careful of that lifestyle.
    It will quickly burn you those vodka shots at midnight!!!
    Been there, done that! (I am too tired at 11 pm now!).
    Though it sounds like such fun.
    I love the restaurant families.