The Serial That Takes You to Dinner
by Chef Bob Munnich
Back of the House is a real chef's fictional story about running a restaurant and the politics behind the scenes that diners rarely see.
It was on one of the most prestigious blocks of real estate in the whole city. The building was an old bank right in the middle of town, not far from the financial district and only a few hundred yards from some of the best restaurants in the city, as well as the country. Jamie and Scott had 30 years of restaurant experience between them. They had both worked in every position in the restaurant business. They knew the business inside and out. Scott had more "front of the house" experience, while Jamie was a chef. They had been working together for the last few years at the Four Seasons hotel and were part of the best service and food restaurant in the city.
The bank was perfect. High ceilings, marble floors and a corner location with an impressive facade. Scott knew that with the right financing, great marketing and good food, this would be a winner. With the dream in their hearts they got to work on the project.
The building was easy. They hired the best interior design team in the region, then decided on a "concept". This would be an exclusively seafood restaurant. Sure they would include some meat dishes for the gourmand, but the specialty would be domestic and imported seafood.
Since both owners wanted the opportunity to run the business, they decided they needed an executive chef to run the kitchen. This was a decision they didn't come to easily, but one that made sense to both of them. They started by placing an ad in the classified section.
The first couple of weeks produced hundreds, if not thousands, of responses. None were of the caliber they needed. They tried searching through an agency, but the chefs they pulled in were talented but didn't have the charisma they needed to "sell" this restaurant. They were becoming discouraged when an exciting thing happened.
Jamie and Scott had been working eighteen hours a day developing the restaurant. Not much time was spent eating, sleeping or socializing. One Friday evening, after working on the design of the dining room all day, they decided to go out for dinner. Neither had a girl friend, nor any other sort of life outside of work, so they went to a restaurant/nightclub near their home in the suburbs.
After a few drinks at the bar, they ordered some dinner. The bartender, sharp and attractive, overheard their conversation about the new restaurant. After placing the order, she went back to the kitchen to warn the chef that these guys were "in the biz" and take care of them. She did (the chef that is) and Jamie and Scott had the best pan seared striped bass and tuna with cilantro they ever had. "Wow," they thought to themselves as they scarfed down their meals and moved on to more drinks.
After dinner they were having such a great time that they decided to stick around and dance. The DJ was just coming on, and they felt like partying. Maybe tomorrow they'd just take the day off. Eyeing the crowd of perspective dance partners Jamie noticed an attractive woman in the corner near the kitchen entrance with long blond hair. He found his dancin' buddy! He approached the young woman, popped the question, she said yes, and they had a great time dancing to the big beat on the floor. After the dance they returned to the bar for a drink.
"I'll have a Dewars' rocks please," Jamie shouted across the bar. The bartender returned with the drink and a Vodka rocks for his partner.
"How'd she know what you wanted?" Jamie inquired.
"I work here," his partner said, "my name is Jules, I'm the chef here."
"Cool, I tell ya what, we just had a great meal, you're pretty talented. Where'd ya learn to cook?"
"Well, I kinda taught myself. I've always loved it, and just decided it's what I wanted to do."
"Far out," said Jamie.
Just about then Scott motioned Jamie to the door. "Well, it's time to run." Jamie said. "Thanks for the dance—and the dinner!" Jamie slipped through the crowd to meet up with his friend.
"Hey, what a night," Jamie said. "You know, that was the Chef I danced with. I'm thinking we might have a winner there."
"Well maybe we should call her...give her an interview. Dinner was good, she sure was a looker. Think she knows her stuff?" Scott asked.
"Yeah, she seems sharp," Jamie replied, thinking to himself that he really wasn't sure, but had a good feeling about her. "Let's give her a call tomorrow."
"Did ya get her number?" Scott said, half facetiously.
"What kind of a guy do you think I am?" Jamie said as he cracked a smile. "Of course I did."
What do you think? Where do they go from here?
Next week... the interview.
Copyright © 1996, 1997 Bob Munnich. All Rights Reserved.
This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.
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