Man, do I feel it.
I’m sure this comes with the gig of getting older and making bigger decisions. Small moves that put you on bigger trajectories.
But I am telling a story that everyone knows. It’s hard getting more responsibility. The weight, mixed with expectations and unpredictable reality.
You are truly not in control.
This doesn’t mean you can’t find balance. This is where I’m at. In my world, as a cook, it is all about balance.
Not just with food, but with people. It is give and take. Some days, as in this past week, it is a lot of take. Taking what people want and what they give you, instead of what we have. We absorb their needs because it’s our jobs, but I am a stubborn sunuva-gun — and I tell everyone that.
My job isn’t only to cook — but trying my best to control the endless variables of a restaurant. Those of you who’ve worked in restaurants know how big of a machine it really is. And until you know the pressure of being at the top of this machine, there is no adequate way to describe its motion.
I am at a crossroads of trying to figure out what is more important — keeping a restaurant busy or pushing the ball forward. When chefs get itchy to create, they are forced to make that decision on whether or not to change something people love and buy, for the sake of their own pride.
Perhaps I won’t have to choose on this one. Do you give people what they want and expect? Or do you nudge them, bit by bit?
We are a sandwich shop. We’re not doing anything new or innovative. But we try to do them well and it shows, I think. I work hard at keeping my finger down on the kind of quality we can deliver. Then, I go home and watch videos of Daniel Bolud or David Chang or Francis Mallmann and get all panicky that I am not where I should be. In fact, I know that.
So I push forward. I push myself in effort to push others. Being in the state of Mississippi, my boundaries seem endless. It is not a food city, but there are people here who love to eat and love to be challenged.
Deep in my belly is a fire to move forward, always. With food or emotions or with people — that is what I wake up to do. Be better. Move forward. And to humbly and most likely stubbornly accept the fact that I am so obscenely tiny in this world that it isn’t quite about me.
I want more. Always, from myself and often others. But I cannot control anyone or make them believe something they aren’t interested in. I refuse to have that sort of power — but I think I can show them how it makes me feel and how important it is to me, and I can move with that.
I am far away from being a great chef. I am a pretty good cook who is lucky and learned from watching some really hard working people. I move with that in hopes that I can make even the slightest dent into what I want to accomplish here.
Even if that means one grilled cheese at a time.