Not too long ago I had the great pleasure to once again work at the US Open Tennis Tournament in Flushing Meadows. One of the best things about my job is that I am always flying around to work the coolest events. Now please don’t misunderstand my enthusiasm. Your ass officially will be stomped into the ground on big events. That’s the beauty of the whole thing. You think you are this kick ass chef and nothing can stop you. Then you show up to one of these monster events and wammo. Your knowledge and endurance is pushed to the max.
You live on the food in your restaurant or area. You drink beer, aka nectar of the gods, to fall asleep and drink coffee, Redbull, Monster, or 5 hour. Your “said choice of energy drink” is only to get you out of bed and on a subway train to get to your final destination. Once you arrive, to your home away from home. Usually, it is a prep kitchen or restaurant. The adrenaline starts flowing; at the US Open by 2 in the afternoon you have already pumped out enough meals to sink a battleship. The tickets or lines never stop and people are always hungry. Now God help you if it rains during this event. When it rains it pours. It pours tickets upon tickets of orders. Your line is pushed to the max barely holding on. You are at the helm yelling, pleading and most of the time, fussing your way to happy or as happy as they can be customers.
The night approaches quickly in this scene. You drag your whipped ass back to your hotel room for a little nap before you get to do it all over again the next day. This event is best described in my mind now that I have done four of them as “Ground Hog Day” the movie. The one with Bill “fucking” Murray living the same daily events over and over. This event is one of the big ones. It will crush you without even looking back.
The worst part of the event is the “lead up” to it. When your packing at your house thinking about all the great restaurants your going to eat at when you get off. You always think your going to get off early enough to go to some chic restaurant that will make all the chefs jealous that you were able to get in. However it rarely ever happens that way. You usually end up eating at a street cart or buying a bag of chips at DR to get through the night.
The glorious life of a chef.
This year I was very lucky. I somehow managed to get out early enough, to enjoy a night to remember for a life time. I and a friend were able to walk over and catch a Met’s game. While we were there we no doubt had a Shake Shack burger and shake. I do not have a picture of the burger; it was gone before the camera was even thought about being turned on.
Of course in true chef fashion we had to get some items from blue smoke. These were awesome. I mean barbecue pork sandwich and a fried bologna sandwich. Holy shit they were good. My toque goes off to them. I grew up on fried bologna sandwiches. This one was so damn good. I am sure this will make true baseball fans cringe but as soon as the sandwiches were gone so were we.
There was too much to go see or really eat and drink. Next stop was just a blast. An Irish bar in China Town of flushing meadows. Well at least the bartender was Irish. The beer was cheap and cold. So that is pretty perfect in my book. The bar was probably the craziest things I had been to in a little while. While we were slamming down our third or fourth drink, an older Asian women walks in with a stack of bootleg movies for sale. The selection was ranging from things in the theater to “couchie-couchie” movies. It was a riot.
We headed out of there and hit Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant. Their soup dumplings are so damn good. They would make your tongue slap your brains out. They are piping hot so when you actually get them you need to sip your beer for a minute before you dive in. It was the perfect ending to a great night. The E.C.O. crew was there and we enjoyed the time and the food, but most importantly the company.
What we do is hard and demanding, hell a lot of my friends that are not in the business think we are nuts. When we get a chance to look back on what we did over the summer this night will be one we remember for a long, long time.