|Jenn B. Not a lesbian.|
The latest sucker is Jennifer Burgess, who worked with Gianna at a bookstore in Florida. They also lived together but Jennifer doesn't like for people to know that because then they assume she is a lesbian. [Wait--Gianna's a lesbian?!]
|McDonald's cheeseburger. |
Over the years I would supplement my meager bookstore salary with stints waiting tables at various chain restaurants. Carrabba's, Applebee's, Bennigan's and even three horrible, flair-filled days at a TGIFriday's. When I was given an option to move from Washington, D.C. to Austin, TX, to possibly get a dream job at a university press I knew I needed to make more cash for the move, and I knew the only way to do that would be to wait tables. It was fast, easy money but a chain restaurant wouldn’t do; it would have to be somewhere upscale, somewhere with larger ticket food items, it would have to be fine dining. Even though I had zero fine dining experience, I was lucky, there was a new upscale restaurant close to my apartment and on New Year’s Day 2008 I walked in and begged for a job. The manager took pity on my chain restaurant experience and gave me a chance. I started at my first fine dining restaurant two days later.
I eventually made it to Texas and got the job at the press. Working behind the scenes and learning how books are made and sold was another amazing experience for me. Being around people who are passionate about information and getting it out and available to everyone was a once in a lifetime experience. I was finally learning how the books I loved were made, what it actually took to bring words and worlds to life. But that job didn’t happen right away and in the meantime to afford to live I knew I could fall back on my food experience.
|West Virginia ramps.|
So stinky that schools sent
kids home in the afternoon
if they ate them for lunch.
I found what I thought would be a temporary home waiting tables at a new fine dining restaurant in the new campus hotel/conference center. The incredibly talented executive chef and his team of sous-chefs continued my food education. At their hands I tried foods I had only ever read about like sweetbreads, quinoa, and West Virginia ramps (that are only in season for a very limited time each spring and taste like a strong onion mixed with garlic, whoa baby, they are good but no kissing after). I tasted tomato water, foams, and saw how an immersion bath of extra virgin olive oil could be used to cook a fillet to a perfect medium rare. ["Tomato water" is hoity-toity for "ketchup." I'm certain about this.]
Once I got the job at the press, I couldn’t quite bring myself to give up the restaurant. I loved it too much. By day I was immersed in the world of books and at night I was immersed in the world of food. It was amazing. Things rarely last forever though and circumstances changed. Unfortunately I no longer work in either of these two worlds that I am so passionate about.
Don’t feel bad for me though. I keep up to date with both by reading and eating, and when I can, reading about eating. Chefs and food writers are my rock stars and I devour books about the food world. Books by Anthony Bourdain, Grant Achatz, Frank Bruni, Ruth Reichl and Phoebe Damrosch line my shelves and I will read any other book about food I come across.
|Chef Marcus Samuelsson|
If every chef I have loved in my life writes a memoir as good as Yes, Chef, I won’t have time to mourn for the professions in books and food that I no longer have. I will be a very happy reader for a very long time.