Every time my sister comes to town, it’s a whirlwind of activity. I half-kid her that I see her more now that I live in DC, because when we both lived in Houston she worked for the city. It made her practically unavailable. In her last job, she was working on different states’ bills, and Maryland was one of many in her territory. I absolutely loved visiting her in Annapolis, but in her current job, she’s working on federal legislation. Today we met up in front of the Supreme Court and walked to Nooshi (Capitol Hill/8th St.). A friend of Lindsay’s joined us for dinner, and then Lindsay said that she wanted to go back to the same restaurant she went to on Tuesday night just for the dessert.
Since we were in the neighborhood, said friend and I convinced Lindsay that she should branch out and come with us to Ted’s Bulletin. We all got adult milkshakes- mine was Bananas Foster. Lindsay also ordered the homemade version of a Little Debbie™ Oatmeal Creme Pie (they also offer homemade Pop-Tarts™). She only ate a few bites of it, and I hadn’t eaten all day. I unashamedly ate the rest, after having an entire order of chicken wings, several pieces of sushi, and 7-Spice Tofu Fries… not to mention the milkshake bigger than my head. I’m currently on the “I Don’t Have a Car” diet, which basically means I eat anything I want, any time I want, because I have to walk it off whether I want to or not. I enjoy this plan so much that I may upgrade it to the “I Don’t Want a Car” diet, because I’d like to continue to eat like a frat boy at all times. Don’t get me wrong, a car would be nice to have when going to the grocery store, but I found that driving around DC made every single part of my day sedentary unless the parking garage closest to where I wanted to go was full.
Tomorrow, I’m going to work out even more. The reason I look so happy in the above photo is that I got a call from Jorgé, the kitchen manager at pub near downtown Silver Spring, wanting to know when I could do a stagé. I’m not nervous- it’s basic bar food- but I do feel weirdly self-conscious that I don’t have chef’s pants. I found a shop on Fenton that might have them, so I’ll check mid-morning. I just can’t picture being able to move well in Dockers or jeans. I do, however, still own my Bistro Crocs…. however, mine are basic brown and I flipped out at the new designs, so I may have to upgrade my kitchen shoes if I get the job. I really like the skulls and crossbones made out of eggs and bacon, and the black with chili peppers are just classic. You can knock on Crocs all you want, but there is no substitute in the kitchen. “Bistro” is a different designation. You won’t even slip if there’s frying oil all over the floor…. it’s a completely different tread, and no holes for ventilation lest you “drop it while it’s hot.”
Speaking of “hot,” Lindsay warned me not to burn myself, and I said, “oh my God… I have so many burn stories….” She then got super worried about me and told me to be careful. Since the last time I cooked, I lived in Portland, she didn’t see me when I looked like a Hell’s Angel…. just cuts, bruises, and burns EVERYWHERE. It was the best time of my life.
I was, as Anthony Bourdain said, a member of a tribe that would have me. Because I spend so much time in my head, working with my hands was such a blessing. I didn’t have time to worry about anything else but slicing onions correctly…. which is why a pub is the perfect fit for me and not fine dining. With monocular vision, I am not fast and accurate at the same time. When my field of vision changes, so does the direction of my knife. In that vein, the best part ever is that they want me as a line cook because all the prep positions are full. So basically, someone else has to worry that the batonets are perfect.
I am still going to interview with UMD if they ask, and will probably take the job if it is offered because I can’t think of a better way to pay for school. But I can’t worry about next week or the week after that. I am living in the moment, and what this moment is telling me is to enjoy the hell out of myself tomorrow. During the phone interview, it was like I’d never stopped being a cook. This was the funniest part of the conversation:
Me: How many covers a night?
Jorgé: I don’t want to scare you.
He also laughed until he choked when he said that most customers order the same thing and I said, “french fries with ranch?” If you’ve never worked in a bar, that joke is ridiculously funny.
When I got home, I sent an instant message to Pati Jinich and told her that I had an important stage coming up and could I have a blessing? She wished me luck and told me to wear good shoes. I was walking to the Metro when I got it, and just had this big, dumb grin on my face the entire way there…. actually, I think I’m still smiling.
For those of you just joining us, I met Pati when she did a cooking demonstration at the Mexican Embassy in 2017. My dad had actually bought the ticket, but gave it to me when he didn’t end up making the trip. He and my stepmom have had this running joke that Pati is “his girlfriend,” so I told my dad that if he didn’t come to the cooking demonstration, I was going to steal his girlfriend away from him.
I told Pati this story at the beginning of the night, and we took a picture together at the end. The reason I am doubled over with laughter is that I thought she had forgotten all about our conversation…………. She reached over and kissed me, saying, “well, you asked for it.” It was just one of those jokes that was completely unexpected. I walked right into it, one of the funniest things that’s happened to me in DC.
I am so glad that the photographer (whomever he was) got just the right moment, because it is refrigerator-worthy. I think I’ll print out a copy for my Kindle case, which carries all my “important documents.”
I cannot close this entry without thanking my ex-wife, Dana, who got me interested in cooking in the first place (and helped me get my first cooking job).
I’d also like to thank Drew, Knives, John, JMSK, and all the other people who helped me along the way. I think I have a pretty good shot at turning an audition into a job, but no matter how badly it goes, they’ll still feed me (and possibly give me a beer). Seriously, what have I got to lose? I get to spend an evening doing what I love, with a tribe who would have me.
Every time Lindsay comes to town, it’s just a whirlwind of activity.