Saturday, February 26, 2011

One Sane Chef & Pavarotti's Bus Tubs

Being a Pollack, I've never had the need to engage in therapy. Instead....we just start off our day eating pork products and screaming at each other. However, if I did go to a shrink, I'm pretty certain that after we processed the entire vein structure of my neurosis components, the Doc would probably determine that Klecko is who he is because of a deep seeded desire to be normal.

After revealing this, you can be certain that a prognosis would be issued where the learned healer would do there best to assure me that there was no need to worry, after all every family structure has an element of dysfunction.

It's hard to argue with somebody that has multiple degrees when you had no success completing any of the 3 high schools that District 281 had to offer, but I do feel I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Klecko was raised by a small black and white television set.

As a kid, your favorite baker was reared in the 60's, a decade of change, a decade of experiment. My father bolted when I was 2, and my mother chased after enlightenment, so throughout my parents individual pursuits, I spent a large deal of my youth at houses other than my own.

On the occasions when I did sleep in my own bed, I spent my time in a state of worship, and the alter that gave me hope and peace was....that's right, that black and white TV.

Hours would pass and I would watch shows like the The Brady Bunch, The Walton's or even Little House on the Prairie.

The common denominator in all of these programs was that the family's were loyal, they put each others needs ahead of their own. But the thing that was most striking to me, the thing that I wanted to emulate the most was their collective normalcy.

Goals are good to have, and formula's to obtain them are really healthy. After you figure out your objectives, all you need to do is find a mentor and plug into them. TV gave me faith because even in 1972, when I was 9, I was inspired that Adam 12 always got the bad guys, Mary Tyler Moore could turn the world on with just a smile (and remember...we were both living in Mpls at that time), and Fred and Lamont were happy as clams even though they lived in a junk yard.

Sure, even though I was just 9, I realized that these were embellished themes, but my thinking was that thoughts had to come from somewhere, some kind of life experience.So just as the Templers Knights went in pursuit of the Holy Grail.......Klecko secretly pledged an oath to himself that he would find normal, and be normal.

Towards the turn of the millennium, the bakery I worked for moved locations. We went from a work space the size of a Nike shoebox, to a 7500 square foot facility that was brand new.

On Sundays, I would always be the first one in. I remember each time I entered that plant, I was always grinning. I couldn't fathom that somebody would put that kind of trust into me. They were actually going to let me steer the ship.

Most Sundays I would get there 1 or 2 hours early, just so I could sit in the bakery and watch it in it's quietness. All the other times I was in there.....complaining,cursing and laughter wall papered the airwaves. Sometimes.....even if it was just once a week, it was nice to witness it's greatness in silence, kinda like watching your first baby asleep in the crib.

Silent energy can be powerful. If you learn how to look for it, only then will you be able to understand how you can use it to frame chaos.

At about 8 a.m. phone calls would litter the office lines, and sometimes if I was bored I'd answer them. Chef "R" worked at the Saint Paul Hotel, and he would always place his order at 8:15, not 8:12, not 8:31, but always 8:15 on the dot.

I've always enjoyed people who are anal and creatures of routine, we usually get along. During this period "R"was at the climax of his career. The Saint Paul Hotel is in my opinion the top luxury venue in the state of Minnesota. Let's just put it this way....if a President from our country or abroad is sleeping in the TC's, you can bet that it's at the SPH.

The list of dignitaries that have passed through there is wicked impressive, and the thought of listing them all is almost silly.

After a couple months of Sundays, I really began to look forward to chef "R"s phone calls. I would explain the nuances of the baking world, and in return he told me stories about chef life that make me laugh to this day. One of my favorites took place on maybe the only week that he called in late, it might of been 8:30ish. After exchanging salutations, I told him that I thought perhaps an earthquake or locust plague swept through his neighborhood. The following is his reply.........

"No locusts, that's for sure, but you might say a mini hurricane."

I kept my mouth shut because I was intrigued.

"Last night Pavarotti was in town, and of all of our customers....well, he's maybe the highest maintenance. In addition to attracting more groupies than a rock star, the guy is impossible to please in terms of food. In fact, he feels that no chef is talented enough to feed him. Being the greatest opera singer must not be enough, because he has been quite clear to our management that he is the greatest chef on the planet as well. In fact, every time he comes to town, he has a special kitchen put into his room, but the one thing I'll give him, he doesn't mess around. The guy uses great ingredients, and he always cooks a feast. he loves to share his cooking with people...shoot, I don't know, maybe more than his music."

Then I asked "R" if he ever had the privilege of sampling any of the tenors wares. But "R" didn't answer, it was kinda an awkward moment, after repeating the question, "R" sheepishly began to laugh........

"Well, and we only did it cuz Pavarotti is legendary, but after all of his bashes, we have housekeeping bring the leftovers to our kitchen office. we pick over his bus tubs."

The both of us got a good laugh at "R"s expense, but the thought of cooking for the most powerful people in the world seemed daunting to me. so I asked "R" of all the dishes that he's ever cooked, what was his favorite. Listed below was his response.

"I really don't have favorite dishes at all, I have favorite experiences. I am surround by wonderful food everyday, but not always by people who I really want to be with. My wife is in hospitality too, so on the rare occasions we get to dine together, or once every couple of years when we get to be with our families in Detroit, those are the best meals. sometimes I think people are a more important element than menu choice"

So in closing, I've come to terms with the fact that I'll be "different" until I shed my mortal coil, however I do take solace in the fact the my theory is correct and there is at least 1 normal person gracing the globe.

So props out "R", and wherever you and your family have landed these days. Polish Blessings on ya friend!

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