(I’ll meet you there.)

Food, Hospitality Industry

It’s hard to put food in a styrofoam box.

It’s hard to watch it die a slow death in the hopes that it makes it to a person in the right amount of time.

I guess we’ll all have to lower our standards. (for now.)
You have to know that this is hard on many levels for many different kinds of people.

I dwell on aesthetic. I think it’s part of my shtick.

I like to touch real things.

Plates. Glasses. Hot water and metal brushes.

I like color. Contrast. Texture. These are things lost in the gravity of my mind.
I know there are ways around this, things I can do really well. But I am rebelling in my mind and it is hard for me to lay down my weapons.

Food, first and foremost, is nourishment. On top of that, are several layers of what makes a dish great. For those passionate cooks out there, putting a $50 dollar piece of meat into a box and into the hands of a person who may not care too much about it is the most nerve wracking — yet here we are. Learning to trust companies that probably don’t give too much of a shit about the quality of a piece of meat, or whether or not a vegetable needs to be eaten immediately.

This is the stuff I stay up late thinking about.

Me, standing on my tip-toes looking over the pass — seeing if you’re enjoying your plate of food.

I feel it in my gut. Things will never be the same. That’s okay. Some things need to change. In fact, I am often hopeful about the future of my kind of work. A different appreciation — a deeper understanding of the world of hospitality and how it is so often the hand that holds our wounds. It is our deepest comfort and gives us some of our best memories.

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Those good things will never die.

But, I think they will change. I will change. (you will have to change, too.)

A lot of us just want to collapse on the kitchen floor and slam our palms to the ground like a four year old that’s tired and hungry and doesn’t want anything you have to offer.

Food, to me, has always offered hope. Dignity. Memory. Those are massive columns that hold up my own code of morality. In return, it offers me the same things.

What I am able to give to you comes from my deeper sense of self, and maybe I don’t always show that. Maybe I show it ways of rage and stubbornness — but it all comes out of the place that wants to give you every piece of my soul.

You wonder why speaking in front of guests at one of our wine dinners makes me so nervous — because it is literally three hours of giving you things I dwell deeply on. I cannot separate myself from the craft, the labor and the people that place dishes in front of you and keep your glasses full.

So yeah, this is what I think about in a day.

Everything is shifting. If you’re not, it’s going to be a hard road for you.

I’m going to end this with an excerpt from one of my favorite poems by Rumi. I don’t know if it has anything to do with what I just said, but it hits different now.

Now, more than ever, we need to meet in the same place and build a better world.

I hope you’ll meet me there.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”

fog.

Food, Health, Hospitality Industry, Story

I really wanted to call this “Love in the Time of Corona” – but of course there are about 60 other think-pieces with this title and maybe we’re all tired of seeing it.

Sure, this is a little easier for introverts. Let it be clear that none of this is easy, for any age group or  personality type. Honestly your pets are super happy  you’re home. Maybe even your cats.

We all might be getting a little chubbier. (Which is OKAY.)

My lack of running around for eight hours a day like a crazy person is showing. Well, that mixed with beer/whiskey/whatever people have been leaving on my doorstep.

This is the most time I’ve had to myself since we opened the new restaurant. It’s been almost two years of constant worry and hustle — of reminders and alarms that I’ve turned off since we decided to temporarily close.

That was a gut-wrenching decision.

I felt like I had failed.

It took a pandemic to close our doors.

I felt so much guilt and pain for not being strong enough to make it  work — to have to tell my co-workers that they’d need to be registering for unemployment.

And I was exhausted. Emotionally. Physically. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you know the mental toll that it takes. In fact, I have so much mental energy left at the end of the day I can’t really sleep without just completely wearing myself out on Youtube tutorials.

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Some days are foggier than others. You know this all too well.

That is mostly hope. Also, perhaps  you’re less hungover from the night before. (Which is a good thing.)

I know we’re all hanging on, here.

I was talking to my Memaw a couple of nights ago. She’s 81 and has been through most of the hard things a person has to go through in one life — and something like this is new to her. It is a hard thing, regardless of age or social capacity. It doesn’t need to be said that being human is being social and that the best feeling is to be loved on by another.

Sometimes, it  looks  darker, like a box you can’t get out of. A heavy fog.

I know.

Hold fast to the things that make you feel strong — feel loved —  feel heard.

We started cooking  again this week.
If nothing more than to pay some bills, but mostly to feel somewhat connected again. The hard pill to swallow is that this changes everything. It changes our business — our hearts and those things that shake us to the core.

But there is a lot of love out there.
The fact that we are staying  put shows that.

I encourage you to keep reaching  out to people. To check in on quiet friends  (check in on your loud ass friends too.)

Be good. Take some deep breaths and give yourself loads of grace (more than you already should.)

I send all the love in my heart,
however long it takes to reach you.

-j

 

pressure.

Food

Walking back and forth between the two dinners we were working, I could smell the way the sun warmed the flowers that grow in between the movement and stillness of wood and brick and people that walk around the walls of this building.

I used to lean against these walls years ago, wondering if the hustle was worth it — barely making enough to pay my bills and have a life here. Those are the times that define you the most. The sink or swim moments where you are so grateful, but also so tired of taking people’s money — food — personal time. Sometimes I think luxury is not having to bother people for their things.

The conversation in my industry, especially now, is not so much talking food or trends, but stress, anxiety, addiction and depression.

On my drive to Louisiana today, I listened to a few chefs talk about their demons and the demons that haunt the restaurant world. The pressure to perform and what that pressure does to the cooks they employ. Cooking has never been an easy thing. In fact, it’s always a lot of work, you just get better at doing it and doing it faster than anyone else.

There’s the pressures to compete, to transform expectation and to evolve with the people that eat your food.

At what cost?

That’s the question now.

kitchen-fire

I am currently battling a lot of anxiety. Do I feel stressed? Sometimes. But now this toxic stuff has become a bit more of my life — recently working a 12 day stint on the line got me a little fried. Every day, you work to outsmart your customers. To prepare for their questions or their worries about what they’re paying for — often times you feel successful. Most of the time, you learn to be flexible and to just move on.

Sometimes, it’s easier to give the customers what they want, but sometimes it’s at the cost of something you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. Tasting. Testing. Running through the mill.

There’s so much pressure in that.
There’s pressure in people wanting more and knowing you may be one of the only people who can give it to them.

I’m not sure of the cost of coming home every day and collapsing on the couch, forcing myself to take deep breaths to calm my pulse and come back to Earth as quickly as I can. I know I that I have to, and that I have to focus on bringing myself down in order to function.

I walk fast. Everywhere. A lot of times impatient. Things I feel are so unlike me.

Some days, I walk away feeling sad that I push for so much hustle — so much performance. I fight the line between wanting to be the best and wanting to be realistic. I am always trying to find the balance of healthy and hustle. I’m not sure if there is one, at least not to me right now.

I listened to these chefs speaking things that brought tears to my eyes. They were right in saying that food and cooking is the easiest part of our jobs. Other things like conflict and interpersonal relationships are hard, hard, hard to navigate. It gets hot and fast and you have to remain a good person. You just have to. IT IS JUST FOOD.

Customers also have to help us. We all have to shift to make restaurants a place where people can work and not go home every single day to get stoned and drink away their tips just to cope with the stress of other human beings. A lot of the pressure comes from chefs and business owners, but also customers.

We all have the ability to create and alleviate this toxic thing.

I am lucky to have such a wonderful, hard working and kind crew. I am not always the best human being to be around — especially as of late.

I put so much pressure on myself — to be better than the place moving in down the street and to make sure we are staying on top of our game. But at the end of the day, I would give it all up if I knew it was completely destroying someone’s life.

I believe this industry can change. I believe we can be healthy people that also love to cook and eat and serve other people. In fact, we are changing this world. I have so much work to do on myself, and how I see this for myself, but I’m noticing. I’m shifting. I’m growing.

Food is so important to me. People are more important. I am more important.

The future of food is always shifting, and it’s going to ask you to lower an expectation. It’s going to ask you to pay more, sometimes.

But at the core of what we do, is to take care of you. Sometimes we need your grace and you need ours.

So, we invite you in to eat our food and talk to our servers. Let’s disarm each other whenever we can and make this thing work.

We have to.
The future of food depends on it.

I was met at my destination today to my nephew, throwing me a baseball glove to play.

It was just what I needed.

A breeze that moved the trees,

the sun that warmed my face,

and the feeling that everything was going to be okay.

 

Podcasts with Everything is OK

Food, Story

In the past year I have done TWO super cool podcasts with my friend David.

He and a couple of his friends (who all reign from the OK state) started a podcast to talk about all sorts of things. I reckon’ that’s what they’re for, anyhow.

He asked me a little over a year ago to share my journey from Mississippi to Oregon and back again. (And everything in between.) That podcast you can right here!

And recently, we caught with one another, roughly recapping the year and talking about chicken sandwiches and God and the church. So many things.

You can find the newest episode here!

Okay.

I hope you all have a great week.

See you soon.

-josh

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rest

Food, Health, Hospitality Industry

I picked a profession that doesn’t allow for much brain rest.

In fact, it’s a job that prides itself on being the most busiest and most tired. I would be lying if I didn’t feel good sometimes about having a really long day. I kind of like being tired, but I don’t like what it perpetuates.

I’ve done what I’ve had to do in the restaurant biz, and I have it really easy. This is the first time ever, working in the industry, that making a living and rest have evened out. Sure, some weeks are more tiring and require me to be present 60+ hours a week. Then I get some weeks where I actually eat about three meals a day. Some days I even get to sit down for them.

But that’s just been my life for the past 10 years.

I’ve decided to take a break from drinking, among other things. I’m doing this for a lot of reasons, currently for my body/mind health. Alcohol is the sneakiest one. Part of me is doing it so that I can drink a beer or a glass of wine in my 50’s and 60’s and be okay.

Also, I was just feeling really awful after drinking. More so than usual. I try to pay attention. Sometimes, your brain goes straight to “make this feel better immediately” — cue alcohol, food, sugar, dumb TV.

There is a pressure to medicate.

Rarely do I have two days off in a row that I can not be at the restaurant. Currently, it’s not so bad. I have a great crew who take care of things and do a super job at it. This is worth its weight in gold. Any chef or manager will tell you the weight lifted off your shoulders when you can be gone from your business and know things are being taken care of properly.

Noonday_Rest

I draw back into myself on days like this. I have some time to dream, for myself and for the business. This is the most important thing. You cannot be inspired if you are stuck frying eggs and fixing drains tired, because we do that more than anything most days.

There is also some guilt to self care. “You’re not drinking!? Bummer!!”
Man, don’t ever say that to someone. You never know what demons someone is fighting.

My mind is wracked with guilt about how this business is done. How some of us can make livings and other cannot. Some of that comes with how much people are willing to pay for food. Then there are other things like the thinnest margins of profit, mixed with food cost and labor and rent.

Some part of my mind wonders what it’d be like to work for a large business and I didn’t have to carry that weight. I try to fight the good fight, and hope that being good to our employees means not making them feel like shit if they mess up.

Grace, not just by us, but also by customers is important.

You can make all the difference in the world by being understanding that mistakes will happen. The pressure to not disappoint is insurmountable. So, when we do, we feel kind of crushed. To you, it seems like a fairly easy job, but there is also a lot of love that goes into these things, and when you misinterpret it for lazy and dumb, it really goes a long way to mess with our heads.

So you have one of the biggest parts here. Be a good diner, and support the folks trying to make a living and a better life for themselves. Some of us really love this work, and people are the hardest things to navigate.

Getting back to what I want to say, out of all of this, is to to rest your mind. Quiet the voices and remember your place in the grand scheme of everything moving around us. Get a massage. Go for a walk. Watch something that will make you laugh.

Be kind to your brain and your body. Listen to it. Give it a break. The weight of the cosmos is always pressing down on it, so just be aware of the pressures it has to handle without the stresses of moving in the world.

Allow some wiggle room for things to be sloppy if you need the dishes to sit for a few hours. Allow yourself to drift off into a nap without feeling like your to-do list will be waiting for you when you wake up. There are always things we could be doing, just remember to fit yourself in.

Love yourself, and leave room for the world to love you in return.

 

ramen night.

Food, Story

If I can tell you any truth, it is that I had no idea what I was doing.

This goes beyond “Fake it til’ you make it”, because if we’re all being honest, we do know what we’re doing, or at least trying to do. Whether or not it’s the quality you desire, it just takes time and practice.

A few months ago, I had a person on Instagram (Who I’ve actually never met, nor do I know) from Hattiesburg message me about doing a Ramen night at our restaurant. I brushed it off because we do sandwiches and salads mostly. Like most ideas others toss on me to mull over, I rejected almost immediately. But, I let this one marinate and it got under my skin.

The masochistic part of me, which most chefs are to some extent, knew we would be crushed. I laid awake at night trying to figure it out. I also know that in general, if I set my mind to it, I can probably overcome the “drag” part of my brain that really just wants to sit in my chair and play Overwatch all day.

I made a batch at home, inspired by Ivan Ramen. I figured if anyone was going to have an idea how to sell this stuff to a crowd in south Mississippi, it would be him. Technically, it’s very labor intensive. I had to source a lot of ingredients online, as well as a few different asian markets in the south.

After all was said and done (around 11pm) I finally had my composed bowl of ramen and it was insane. There was depth. There was some element of magic. It worked. Afterwards I thought, “Okay. I guess I can do this now.”

So, I set a date and it blew up. I knew it would. People like ramen. It’s cool. It’s fun. If done right, it is so completely satisfying. Like a big hug or a good conversation.

The word kept spreading, and I kept feeling it in my stomach.

“I’m going to have a make an epic shit ton of this.” I kept thinking.

Along with ramen, I wanted a few other fun snacks. We had Okonomiyaki, Tofu Coney Island (our token vegan option) and Chaschu Pork Cubanos, also inspired by Ivan Orkin.

Between working on the line and my usual daily toils, it took me about three days to prep. The day of the event, I spent in the zone. Pacing myself. I was already tired and the event wasn’t for another six hours. I was caught up, so I went home and laid down for thirty minutes. I somehow managed to doze off for ten minutes, but it was enough for my brain to restart. I felt good. I felt excited.

The kitchen crew showed up. I hurriedly ran through each part of our line. They seemed blitzed a bit. It was a lot at once, but I knew way before we began that they would handle it. We made everything once. Let the staff try it and everything got a full mouthed “thumbs up”.

I walked across the dining room to see a line stretched around our building. I figured people would be piling up. But not that many.

I gave the go ahead to our FOH to open the doors.

For the next three hours my head was buried in tickets. Bowls of ripping hot broth burning our hands and steam filling our faces with sweat. We were in the deepest weeds ever, but we were calm. And people were having a great time.

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About an hour and a half into service, I looked out and the line was still wrapped around the building. I knew I had to cut it off at the door. We were getting to a point where the last person was waiting nearly an hour to get their food, and for the sake of compromising the quality, we had to break some hearts.

I felt awful. But I also still had about 30 tickets hanging for food and knew some time down the road, we would do it again and I would make up for it.

We fired off our last bowl of ramen about 8pm. I looked at my team and we were all running around like crazy, half smiling half exhausted.

To be honest, my head is still buzzing.

We had done something.

I felt a crack in the Earth. People were glowing. Excited. Fed.

It won’t ever feel like that again, or at least in that way. That, was so super special, and my heart is still full.

I don’t know if it’s masochistic. I really just want to give people something good, in hopes that they respond to it.

To those who came out: thank you for standing in line and waiting. Thank you for waiting again and for your response.

To those we had to turn away: know that it crushed my heart to do so, and I hope you understand that sometimes, food runs out and we didn’t want to sell it to you only to take it right back. We will make it up to you.

And to the cosmos and universe for feeding me the energy to try something new, over and over again, I thank you.

let’s do it all over again,

and again

and again.

apples and words.

Food, poem

I once wrote a poem about pots and pans,

and how they lined my wall.

I spoke about their scorched bottoms. (Some more than others.)

How they fed my marriage;

deep dark sauces, sometimes too salty — too little — not enough,

and I would wipe my sweaty forehead.

Now those pots and pans are on shelves.

Organized and wobbly. Still scorched. Familiar.

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I also remember carrying a half pig a half mile.

It was for a friend, and it was for her birthday.

I filled their kitchen with smoke from too much

butter in biscuits.

We laughed, and drank more wine.

Proud of my pots and pans.

oh,

It was a beautiful roast!

for the solstice,

for my friend.

I was half paid in apples and words,

but I was in love with this thing,

and the truth is —

I really love apples and words.

pressure

Food

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.

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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.

First Course: Panic Attack! (Or “How I Wrote My First Menu”)

Food, Hospitality Industry

I told myself taking a walk would clear my head a little.

Instead I walked past a few local spots filled to the brim with people eating and drinking and I got overwhelmed.

I hurried home. The blood rushing to my face. I told myself to chill out. To not pass out on a random cross street with some dude asking me if I was okay — that maybe I was overreacting. I was a little high strung and all I could think about was getting back to my apartment and shoving something chocolatey and sweet in my mouth. I thought maybe this was a panic attack. Though it came so suddenly.

I know all I wanted to do was eat some chocolate. And I did. Typical coping mechanism, I imagine.

I took some deep breaths. I told myself I could do it.

It's cool yo. Just relax.

It’s cool yo. Just relax.

And that was that. I laid down on a pile of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrappers and fell asleep.

Onward to the bigger news:

Dinner service starts this week!

Bah!

It’ll be my first week in charge of a kitchen. Which, to me, is a BIG deal. To people already heels deep in the industry, you know I am over reacting. This, I know too well. I know how things work. I know the good and the bad all too well.

I’m not so much afraid of failing as I am succeeding. Failing is sort of easy, right? It’s when things catch on and get busier and busier. I think that was what got me. The idea of getting in over my head.

But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Food feels different when you’re not feeding close family and friends. It becomes somewhat of a commodity. People pay for it and expect to get their money’s worth. That becomes a little scary to me. Especially for a dude who doesn’t have much. Making sure people are fed and taken care of — that is what’s most important to me.

I wrote out a rough draft menu while working a party a few days ago and felt really good about it. Sort of a “look how far you’ve gotten with what you’ve learned” kind of thing. A lot of folks who go to culinary school don’t get this opportunity. I consider myself lucky to know the right people at the right time, and to work hard for these people. (And to give them whiskey, from time to time.)

I was proud of that menu. Damn proud. It’s nothing special. But it’s food, and I think it tastes good. Which is really important, by the way. The menu showcases the cook. The person in charge. The things he/she wants to show you, the patron. A menu can be personal. It’s a story. It’s a thought applied to an ingredient involving technique, timing and seasoning. A lot of hard work goes into cooking that food. Sort of like that time you had to give a presentation at work, only you then realized that you have to give it five days a week and hope to be consistent and better every time.

I got that nervous twinge in my belly. But a good one. And that’s when I knew I’d be okay. I felt proud about being a cook. I felt empowered and strong and confident.

So yes, there is a lot to be overwhelmed about. That’s okay, ya know? What good things aren’t sometimes scary at first?

This is the part where I say thanks for following this messy journey, and those who will continue to follow me into the kitchen. And while I make this seem more dramatic than it needs to be, it’s big to me and that matters. Deeply.

So thank you for all the kind and supportive words.

And if you’re in the Portland area. Hit me up.

I’d love to feed you.

Hospitality Don’t Come Easy

Food

I get a lot of joy out of feeding my friends.

In a similar way my mom loves taking care of her kids and how she’s so very intuitive to peoples’ needs.

On the occasion that I get to plan a small to medium sized intimate meal, I get a little pumped up. Because I’m not gonna lie, it’s fun to impress people. I get the rush of stretching a culinary muscle all the while saying, “Yeah, I used a whole bottle of wine to make this…”

It sounds silly. And it is.

But a lot of it is intuition. The hospitable bones in my body come from my family, no doubt.

Just know, there is hope if you feel overwhelmed having folks over. A lot of times, it can be — but it doesn’t have to. Especially if you like the people who are coming over. If not, do what I do and hide in the kitchen. (Because there’s always junk to do in the kitchen, am I right?)

I like to be helpful, so let’s talk about some things that have helped me.

First off, you gotta know if folks can eat what you’re planning to cook. If someone is vegan, you’ll probably have to go out and buy a whole new set of groceries (if you aren’t regularly eating vegan). When in doubt, use a lot of olive oil and bread. That’ll get them happy, only for a little while though. “Josh, be sweet…” Okay, okay.

But seriously. Cook accordingly. Nobody puts baby-vegan in the corner.

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Beverages.
This also asks of you to pair accordingly to the food you’re cooking. If a dish used an entire bottle of red wine to make, it’ll probably pair well with red wine. If it’s spicy, you may want to focus on less intimidating beverages. Maybe good, light beer, or something with citrus and alcohol.

Always offer water. Especially when alcohol is present. Some folks need to switch gears sooner than others.

Watch their glasses. If they’re empty, make cozy eye-contact and fill em’ up with chosen/offered beverage. Keep cups full until you see the night winding down.

If you’re making something sweet, a lot of folks enjoy a sip of good coffee or hot tea. (or more alcohol) Decaf is probably good, but let’s not get too crazy!

Have a clean kitchen.

This is a lot of work. To cook, host and keep it clean. But it helps, especially as your guests leave. If you don’t want to do their dishes after they leave, at least rinse them well, and stack them neatly so there not so intimidating the morning after. Trust me, it helps.

Mise en place.
This is a big restaurant kitchen thing. It means “putting everything in its place”. It is, by far, the most important tool for cooks (besides whiskey). It translates well into the home kitchen. Basically, have all your stuff done before guests arrive.

You don’t want to be mincing garlic and entertaining at the same time. At least I don’t. Plus, that makes dinner last forever. Don’t fool yourself. If people are coming to eat at your house, they pretty much expect it to be almost done. Do not throw something on the stove that takes three hours to cook right as guests arrive. Unless it’s an all-day thing, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Having all your ingredients ready to go for quick assembly is key. It helps you keep a peaceful mind, all the while throwing down some killer food.

Stick with food you’re comfortable with cooking.

Unless they are close friends who love you regardless of how much you put reduced balsamic vinegar on everything, do as Michael Scott says and ‘Keep it Simple, Stupid.’

Keep a good flow.

It’s important to time your dishes, just as a restaurant would do. You want time for the drinks to settle in. You want people to be HUNGRY. Offer them little snacks. Not too much bread. Nuts are good. Things that are salty are good. Nothing too over-powering though.

You want your main dishes to shine. And no doubt they will when your tipsy friends are saying your roast chicken was the best they’ve ever had.

Because you put in a lot of work.

It’s not always easy to predict what others need. But the more you do it, the easier it’ll come to you.

So, call up a few buds.

Give them at least two beverages to start working on.

Keep that kitchen clean.

Have yo’ stuff ready.

Fall into the ebb and flow.

Laugh a ton.

Stress, not so much.

When you’re in the presence of dear ones, take it in.

Because that’s all that really matters.