It had to be 14 years or so ago, while visiting my family during Christmas, that I picked-up “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain and started reading it, just to pass the time. I couldn’t put it down. I’d been out of food service for a few years, working an 8-5 job in an office, and didn’t feel like I missed it, at all, but, as I’m reading this book, I’m thinking to myself, “damn, I really miss those days.”
“I really miss those days…” of coming home at midnight smelling like oil with cheese underneath my fingernails. “I really miss those days…” of cussing-out a coworker because he had to take another cigarette break right before a rush came in. “I really miss those days…” of suddenly finding myself in the weeds because someone took an order incorrectly and now I’ve got to remake something when I’m already buried with orders.
Yes. He made me miss those days. I don’t know how to put it, exactly, and to fall short when describing a person who seemed to be able to put everything perfectly would seem a disservice. All I know is that it was after reading that book that I started to bake and cook, which was a fortunate thing because, while I didn’t know it then, I’ve come to realize it recently, it was a creative outlet that was to replace my waning passion to make music. And, after years of fantasizing about it, I eventually talked my way into a professional kitchen and it turned-out to be as fun and exciting as I’d imagined it to be (even if it is only part time).
So, today has been a horribly sad day for me (and many, many other people). I didn’t know him or ever met him or anything… and that’s such an odd thing to me, to feel so emotionally attached to a “complete stranger”. But maybe that was part of his magic, that he could communicate in such a pure and honest way that made complete strangers feel like they’d known him all along.