We clinked margarita glasses. We had just served chipotle chiles five ways to a room full of foodies and I felt the ice-cold tequila slide from my throat to my stomach. We’re losing a cook and a server and so I suppose the toast was appropriate. He’s got a sous-chef gig out west and she’ll find work out there somehow.
Outside, the sky was dark. A woman was walking with her head down, her arms crossed, her coat hood pulled around her head. The season was changing.
My coat was smeared with chocolate syrup. I had been swirling it over the top of ice cream for the last course and I had unknowingly made a giant mess. After seeing my state of affairs — the counter covered in droplets, my hands dripping — even Julie had laughed.
A year ago, the thought of walking through Mount Lookout Square in a chocolate covered chef’s coat would have alarmed me. But these days it doesn’t seem so bad. I’ve done stranger, more surprising things and none of them have left me worse for wear.
It’s my last couple of weeks at Nectar and in a lot of ways I’m sorry to give it up. I just figured out where they keep all the clean sheet trays. But it’s time to get back to culinary school. I’ve got more demons to face — namely the baking variety.
I leave knowing a few more things than I knew before. The restaurant business can be brutal. The hours are long. The pace is merciless. Guacamole IS better with chipotles. And its been one of the great honors of my life to see inside the window. To experience the curiosity, the passion and the stamina that it requires to keep buttoning up and showing up.
And to the steady, to the focused, to the unflappable Julie Francis, thanks for letting me in.