Edit ModuleShow Tags

A Busman’s Holiday


Firmly entrenched in the holiday season, with snow falling in earnest, I found myself gripped in a stressful argument with my wife Julie, and driving angrily, with my five-year-old in the back seat asking me to lower my voice. Julie asked me to stop accepting so much extra holiday catering work. Eventually we agreed to disagree. We parked at the mall and shopped, working our way through the crowds, and eventually left for home still unsettled and feeling holiday stress.

My restaurant friends are mostly unavailable these days as the season ramps up into high gear. As evidence, this week Edina native and executive chef at world-renowned Café Boulud in New York, Gavin Kaysen, posted an image on Twitter of a long plasticized wall, blanketed with party sheets neatly arranged in a long row of clip-boards: “This means the busy season is in full swing baby....bring it on” http://pic.twitter.com/iaROi691

Similarly, Chef Mike Decamp, from La Belle Vie, posted his own party checklist on Twitter.

Images of clipboards and excel spreadsheets might seem dull to most people, but to a chef who has worked in a restaurant or hotel, they are prelude to an upcoming organized assault on mountains of toil. 

In the past, my own checklists would have inspired dread of approaching hardship. But now, I miss the checklists or at least I miss something about the checklists. Is it the order and efficiency of the clipboards and checklists, the simplicity of fulfilling tasks, or is it, more ominously, that life with more time at home is more complicated than a checklist? Was being buried in work just a safe refuge from the holidays?

I realize that memories tend to lean toward nostalgia, but the holidays were much simpler when I was a full-time chef and had no time for anything but work. December used to pass by in a blur of tasks—a feat to be accomplished more than a season to be enjoyed. During the “busy season,” a restaurant chef lives at work with all functional waking hours dedicated to the morning checklist, service, cleanup, and the inevitable “after-drink” at the bar.

Oddly, the intense workload I dreaded in the past is what seems to be amiss now—or maybe it’s that drink at the bar. I’m not sure how other people deal with holiday stress, but it seems I agree to take on extra work.

When we got home from the mall and after I got off the phone, Julie asked me if I had just agreed to help out with another catering event. Bracing for a possible fight, and a disappointed five-year-old, I said “yes.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rfischer@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Smoky-sweet ribs recipe from a “King of Porc”? Yes, please.

Award-winning co-owner of Corner Table and Revival restaurants Thomas Boemer shares ribs, watermelon, and pie recipes plus tips for a summer barbecue with Southern flair

New Minnesota State Fair Foods 2018

Whet your appetite with this complete list of 27 new foods available this year at the Great Minnesota Get-Together

Fine Spirits Classic Twin Cities 2018

Sip on cocktails prepared by top mixologists and enjoy gourmet fare at Minnesota Monthly's seventh annual Fine Spirits Classic at Orchestra Hall on July 26

Grilled Vegetable and Bratwurst Salad Recipe

Think “outside the bun” and enjoy summer’s favorite grilled brats in a fresh veggie salad for a low-carb alternative

The Twin Cities' Best Hot Dogs

The hottest of hot dogs, to celebrate National Hot Dog Day on July 18

3 Things to Eat This Week: July 11-15

Feast on a fat sandwich, a sweet treat, or something oozy and icy

8 Juicy Places in the Metro

Fresh squeezing and blending superfoods for a super life

Review: Centro Opens in Northeast

Tacos, frozen drinks, and spectacular sides in a unique Northeast space

Cherry and Chocolate Truffle Tart Recipe

Take advantage of the short but sweet cherry season with a luscious cherry and chocolate treat
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags