If I've said it once..........
When you run a wholesale bakery that pretty much focuses on bread, taking on a Pastry Chef is a lot like taking on a wife.
Like marriage, this experience is meant to take two people, join them together and then if this tandem is daring.....only the Saints of Warsaw know where they will go.
I don't know about you, but the Christmas holidays always amplify my emotions.
As of late, I have been missing Gilson, she has (and always will) have a V.I.P. tent set up in my heart.
Since she has left, we have talked on the phone several times, but we were not scheduled to do anything social until last Tuesday.
The plan was to go to the Amsterdam for lunch and then head across the street and look at Christmas ornaments. Like Sue McGleno.....Gilson is part Raccoon and collects objects of a shiny nature.
At 8:38 a.m. last Tuesday, I received a text from my former Pastry Chef friend that said....
"Sorry Danny, I can't make it today. I have to get my teeth cleaned."
Interesting enough, it was her who had set the date just 12 hours prior to the text being sent....LOL.
But that's Gilson.
I remember once when we were in the foyer of Whole Foods, a women and her girlfriend passed the electronic sliding doors.
The two ladies looked at Gilson, Gilson looked back at them and awkwardly said.....
"I wasn't able to make it to your party."
The second lady answered......
"Yeah, I know."
Isn't it funny how all of us have our habits?
I would not put up with cancellations from anybody else in this world, but with Gilson......it's part of her DNA. If you can't get past that one flaw, you'll never see the hundreds of other stellar qualities she possesses.
Her replacement...Hennessy has been filling Gilson absence however.
I think one of the reasons why its working is because she is totally opposite.
Gilson enjoys Indy bands and forgets who they are a week later.
Hennessy simply worships Mick Jagger.
Gilson spends countless hours shopping for clothes online at Barneys of New York.
Hennessy spends countless hours building a wardrobe by stealing clothes from her family. Her clan is a stereotypical brood of Saint Paul Catholics, and she has nabbed sweaters off of 21 different uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews.
So just the other day, Hennessy had just finished baking and packing 37 Gingerbread Men that were 1 1/2 feet tall and 1 foot wide.
The two of us ran them over to the X-Cel Center where they were going to use them for a decorating contest.
On the ride back to the shop, I think the both of us shifted gears and officially embraced the holiday season.
When we got back to the plant. I stepped over to the pastry area so Hennessy could walk me through a Steam Fig Pudding recipe that used beef suet.
All the ingredients were systematically laid out across the butcher block table, but before we began incorporating them, Klecko confessed.
"Sometimes at night, I don't like to sleep on my left hand side. If my ear is flush with the pillow, I can hear my heart beating....its so Edgar Allen Poe - Tell Tale Heart that it makes me lose my mind."
Gilson used to get annoyed by my random remarks, but Hennessy cocked her head slightly and informed me......
"When I go to bed, I never lay on my right side, it creeps me out to think that my heart is suspended up in the air."
EWWWWWWW - I never thought of that, and I didn't particularly care for this floaty image.
As the two of us began our recipe, Hennessy was scaling out the dry ingredients while I was blending the beef suet with the sugar.
The suet wasn't rendered, so I was curious to find out how these ingredients were going to blend.
I thought that it might be tacky and gelatinous, possibly giving off a rich-rank odor, or flavor.
It actually wasn't that bad.
"Hennessy, do you have one Christmas that was better than the rest, you know....like a Brady Bunch Christmas miracle or something?"
Hennessy smiled while she scaled.
"Yeah, it was 26 years ago. On Christmas Eve morning I took a home pregnancy test and found out that me and Kevin were going to have our first child. We decided that we would tell people the good news on Christmas, after all...the both of us had to work so wouldn't be hanging out anywhere too long on the 25th."
Now Hennessy gets this cute grin on her face, stops talking momentarily while manually removing pits from the recipes figs.
"Yeah, that was a great day, to share such a fun secret like that with the person you love....we actually went out shopping for tree ornaments and found ones that looked like baby cribs.
We ended up getting a pink one that we eventually gave to Kevin's parents, and a blue one that I gave to mine. We told both sets of parents that whoever possessed the correct one one have to give it back to us for the baby's first Christmas."
I don't think Hennessy or me had to say anything else after that. Even though this story took place 1/4 of a century ago....it was enough to make both of us feel good throughout the rest of the days bake.
As we get closer to the Jesus birthday thing....it can get easy to let tension mount, but sometimes I just like to do the Ebeneezer Scrooge dealio and think of the people from my Christmas past up to Christmas now.
Opening gifts by a tree with a wife that you love can be a wonderful experience, but baking with your Pastry Chef for an entire city in a humbling honor.
I am so thankful for Gilson & Hennessy.