Where has all the fun gone?
As the past few months for me have been rather jam packed with life I have to admit that writing desire has had to be put on the back burner whilst I worked through the day to day matters of food that is my job.
As my job is food related (Im very lucky!) it is hard to not get caught up in the day top day mish mash that becomes like over worked mashed potato-all gluey and rather unflattering for all concerned.
I guess we all forget when we are in it 24/7 what that means and how that may look to an outsider.
Back in the day when I was young and had so much more energy I worked three jobs -more out of necessity I have to admit than desire-but it was a time when I have to say perhaps I was happier as a person. I drank a lot, I played a lot but I also loved that hot line! It was all about the time I spent working on things that really mattered and seemed to be so vital to my existence.
Talk to any chef, any cook, any food passionate individual working in hospitality and it is that overwhelming desire and drive that we all have to be stupid enough to work 14 or 16 hour days and still somehow have at manic grin on our faces. We can still, after a hellish service that involved more than one customer coming close to losing an ear due to their rudeness, manage to smile, joke even and carry on with the next moment of pure delight as we are told by someone that they have just had the best meal ever or that they loved the way that they were talked into something without even knowing it.
Our jobs -whatever bizarre avenue of food that they may have morphed into, is all about bringing an experience of delight. I forget it often I think nowadays as I am more attached to a computer than I am a gas burner. Those days of chronic sciatic pain, deathly tiredness and constant grim are not something I necessary miss but I think they do get me closer to the actual feeling of pure delight that I have ever felt.
As my job has morphed into one that is extremely rewarding but so very different I look for those moments when I actually get to chat with someone who has made the effort to come and look for the quality of ingredients their planned dinner expects. They have planned and listed, they have possibly even costed it out and will be organised and possibly even a little nervous as their guests sit down at their table to share in the time and effort, the energy and love they have produced to create.
I love this aspect of what I am doing now and helping to create. As GM of Farro Fresh I feel like it a community of people who choose to come together to share in that pure delight. They also just happens to also be the best stocked food stores in Auckland as well as having some of the most dedicated and passionate people around to be there alongside me. Its a blast to say the least.
The food anger I have right now though is more about what is being created out there in kitchens and I wonder if this is because they , like me sometimes, have lost their way, lost their desire to share with a community of like minded people and produce food that actually makes them smile-grin even! I fear we have lost any fun in dining that there possibly could be and that we have lost the art of humor in food in my own city. For those of you who don't live in Auckland and perhaps aren't even familiar with New Zealand, we aren't all sheep and farm land. We do have a cultural hub if you will and a food community. We have been written up as having some really good restaurants ...and some pretty terrible ones as well just like any city. But recently the new restaurants that are popping up feel as though they have missed the joke ? Maybe I just haven't been open to their particular humor but I haven't seen or eaten anything for some time that made me think..wow -that is simply a fun creation that makes my mouth explode! I wont list names and dishes...but why don't I see the love and attention and pure deliciousness that makes me almost go a little crazy like Joe Beef in Canada. Check these guys out -one is a mountain man that looks perhaps like he is born of bear and man and the rest are beautifully geeky, passionate, hard working and fun. www.Joebeef.ca will turn your head, will make you laugh and cry a little for quotes like ...I love burgundy so much I want to pour it in my eyes...”
Move onto a revision of the Mission Street Food team and possibly get all excited about the idea of opening a ridiculous burger joint inside a Korean grocery store! Why not!! Go crazy , go mad and make food! You tube these guys and also feel like you are living a half life. I had not realised to be honest how influential and how community based these chefs were until I spent three days reading their book cover to cover with breaks only for more wine. It can only inspire and suggest to you we have all lost the fun aspect of what we are doing because maybe we are scared to not make money, we cant imagine not serving people actually what they want , we like eating at tables even? What is it that makes these crazy chefs do this and be happy ? One can only dig down and think back to those pure days of old and think it is because it was worth it.
So I want to see savoury eclairs of meat and food that is so back to front it has reemerged again as something new. I want something new for goodness sake. I don't want bad new mexican that is so average it makes me wonder why I even bothered coming in, I want steak that is cooked as I remember it -well and infused with a level of delicious meatiness it makes me rejoice. I don't want something dressed up as something simple and like my gran use to make when really is tastes just as bland as that, I don't want foams, ices or powders unless they are worth it and make sense. I don't want scrapes and smears that are unidentifiable and weirdly coloured. I just want food that tastes good and has been made with love and passion for the ingredients. I want to eat and not over analyse (Im not sure this is possible) what the hell I am eating.
I want a plate full of fun.