Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Guest Chef Night -- Some Last Thoughts

Photo courtesy of Clare
With some sleep and a lot of thought, I have had the chance to reflect upon Guest Chef Night.  I want to take this opportunity to sum up the Guest Chef Night, especially what I learned or what I was reminded of during this special event. 

First, I was vividly reminded that the role in which food plays in our lives.  The Guest Chef Night was billed as an opportunity for people to come and enjoy a four course meal designed by and cooked by Frank and myself.  I admit that I contributed to that billing through my blog posts.  But, in reality, Guest Chef Night should have been billed as an opportunity for family and friends to gather together and share, not only in the food, but also in our time together.

Over the course of one night, I had the opportunity to see many great people, including some who I had not seen since my wedding to Clare.  Although many months had passed since that time, it seemed as if we had just seen each other just the other day ... and perhaps the reason for that was this very night.  Family and friends had been following the developments of the evening, both by word of mouth and through this blog, so that the time and distance disappeared in a matter of moments.  I am very happy and grateful to have been able to share this night with all of them.

Second, food can not only bring together family and friends, but also create new friendships.  Over the course of the night, people who did not necessarily know each other nevertheless sat together at the same table or in vicinity of one another.  As they enjoyed the meal, they were able to talk about the one thing that they have in common -- being related to or friends of to those who brought them together to share in a special meal.

Third, cooking is -- and will always be -- a hobby for me.  It will never be a job.  While the Guest Chef Night was an amazing experience, and I think a very good success, food will always remain an outlet for me to escape the stress of other parts of my life.  The stress of cooking in a restaurant on a regular basis would probably rob me of what is most important in cooking for me ... an ability to escape from the daily pressures and pursue my own creativity in making my own dishes or learn about the cuisines of different cultures around the world. 

Fourth, I am very blessed to have family and friends who support me as I pursue my cooking generally, and events like Guest Chef Night in particular, but support me.  With in-laws like Frank and Geri, as well as my beautiful wife Clare, I was able to try my hand at a Guest Chef Night.  While my parents, Ken and Denise, as well as sister Kim and brother-in-law Jeff could not be there, they provided invaluable encouragement and support.  And, as I mentioned above, there are all those family and friends who came out for Guest Chef Night and had the dinner.  There are also my friends who helped me out with the test kitchen, when I practiced the dishes in anticipation of the big event.

I am also thankful for both Johnny and Bobby Lorino, the owners of Rag's Italian Bistro, who gave us the opportunity to be guest chefs.  They have a great little restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama and I hope that the Guest Chef Night will create and continue relationships with new and existing customers.

Finally, while the Guest Chef Night was a great experience, I am going to return to the focus of my hobby ... on my own cooking adventures.  Over the days, weeks and months ahead, I will continue making my own dishes, trying recipes of other cooks and chefs, and pursuing my culinary challenge Around the World in 80 Dishes. Maybe in a year or two, I'll be talking and planning another Guest Chef Night.  Who knows?  Until then...



Emory said...

Here's part of the email I sent to Frank & Geri. Hope you Schflay's made it home.

We made it home after a pleasant drive and cherishing memories of a wonderful time at Rags with you, Clare, Keith, and the much enjoyed meal. Meeting some of your other family and friends was Lagniappe for sure. We especially enjoyed sitting and eating with "Baby Jo" and her daughter and friend. And Booby and Johnny seem to have a special rapport with their regulars and all who were there Monday night. The stories of this night, and how Frank and Keith, along with all the support from family and friends, will be shared for many years to come. I've caught up on Keith's blog and see that he has already posted some thoughts on the night and all that went into it. We, too, feel that it was more than just the spectacular meal, that made the evening so special. Family and friends gathered in love, sharing and making memories, telling stories and acquiring new ones for gatherings in the future.

Keith Bolek said...

Thank you for sharing that e-mail with me. It was great to see you and Jane. I want to thank you again for coming all that way to participate in our Guest Chef Night. I know it meant a lot to Frank and it means a lot to me as well.


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