Every few minutes a restaurant is born. Or at least thought about being born. Actually I have no idea how many restaurants are born in any given hour on earth, but it's safe to safe to say that no one opened a restaurant by accident. There are no shotgun restaurant openings. Restaurants don't break condoms and there are no rabbit tests for persons knocked up with a restaurant.
Restaurants aren't opened in black outs and you can never ever use the excuse, "I didn't know what I was doing, I was drunk when I opened that restaurant."
As a friend of mine would say, "You have to mean it."
And yet when will restaurants stop? They proliferate like salmon. When will too many be enough? When will an average city block, mall, a suburban strip-mall, be too heavy laden with joints and shops and dives and white-tablecloths and chains and drive-thrus and marts and bars and buffets and shacks and counters and everything underground and above-ground and high in the clouds and deep in the snow? I mean really. Come on now.
But a restaurant is a dream for so many people. They want to make a baby restaurant and watch the people shape it. They want to serve their food to the masses. If it takes a village for a child, it takes a population for a restaurant. My last chef used to say over and over that there were only 750,000 people in San Francisco. And look how many restaurant babies go to heaven before they're walking there! Too many to count, too many to mourn.
That said, I have begun a new project.
Don't fall off your chair. It's neither my new love nor a rebound relationship. (I've never been good at rebounds. My heart's too big, it weighs down both sleeves. I remain deeply in love with people for ages after they've evaporated.)
This time I am keeping some distance. I am not co-parenting. I am not moving in. I am not donating sperm, or an egg. I am not giving a kidney or blood.
This time I am a consultant.
What on earth does that mean?
Consulting is like a drug dealer saying they're in the import business. Or an Ivy League graduate saying they went to a small school in Massachusetts. It's vague. Open-ended.
Consulting is more like being a traveling call girl, or an IT person who makes house calls. I bring my skills, a bag of tricks, some fantastic advice, a box of tissues, a short flogger or a cane-- depending, my get-down-to-work hat, and, as is the case with me particularly, some good grid paper and waterproof pens.
In my bag of tricks are:
a number of kinds of menus, innumerable dessert ideas,
recipes that work, seasonal knowledge, price-point understanding, a special calculator that figures out dessert sales percentages,
an invisible tool for measuring fear/ acceptance/ bewilderment/ delight etc. from various sorts of owners, an extra pair of underwear, references, all-natural drugs that make me
malleable, a proven track record-- folded into something that takes up no room in a wallet,
a big pocket of gold tinted self-worth, a lot of phone numbers in my not-so-little-black-book, some very strong tea,
more than enough smiles and "don't worries," "it'll be alrights," "of course I can do thats," and just to be safe, a handful of "fuck yeahs!"
at the bottom of my bag like loose change, plenty of water, little blue pills that allow me to eat air and become satiated, and that's just the carry on.
Being a consultant means being anything and everything, or nothing, for the client.
Of course there's work I won't do. (In fact I have a genetic ailment that keeps me from doing jobs I hate/ don't believe in/ disrespect/ or just plain think are un-delicious.) But for the most part if I can be baking, making elegant plates, and feeding a few unsuspecting people something other than molten chocolate cakes, artificially flavored butterscotch puddings, mediocre creme brulee and stale cookie plates, I'm happy. Keep Them On Their Toes, that's what I say!
Consulting is an amazing challenge because every house is different, in scale and breadth and just plain equipment vs. seats vs. square footage! It's a way to create lovely desserts for people who may not have the time or the skill to make them themselves. It's an involved process that includes training, teaching, listening. Applying the golden rule, "An Ability To Go With The Flow," is of utmost importance.
Until people walk through the door, sit down, read the menu, order, eat, drink and pay up, none of us have any idea who that restaurant child will grow up to be. We put out a lot of fires, rearrange our arrangements, make decisions and then cross them out, every day a thousand times and then some.
Opening a restaurant is a ferociously exciting process.
And it's another notch in the belt of kitchenlife. heh.