Sometimes the best presents don’t come wrapped with big red bow on top. We like those, too, of course, but as we continue to highlight the highs of 2012, the gift of collaboration comes to mind. Made possible with Michael’s support and encouragement, Chef Pop-Ups at Harry’s Pizzeria and Stagiaire Supper at chef de cuisine Bradley Herron’s house are two initiatives begun in 2012 that spark personal growth in our cooks and ignite a fireplace full of fun to warm the hearts and fill the bellies of our customers.
This past weekend, our first Stagiaire Supper participant, Steve Martin, embarked on a very meaningful journey to Cleveland where he worked in the Greenhouse Tavern kitchen of Jonathon Sawyer, a Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef 2010 and 2012 Harry’s Pizzeria pop-up guest. I spoke with him last week about his experience:
When Sawyer introduced me, it made me so proud to work for Michael. So we’re at the pre-service meeting and he’s spinning this buck knife talking to the staff and pacing back and forth. He explained how Michael brought real food to Miami, and how he, previously being from Miami, never got to experience real, true food like they have up north. And when he finally got to eat at Michael’s restaurant he was so delighted… It was not only the best food he’s had in Florida but in the South as a whole. And then he said “this is one of his chefs and I want you guys to give him a nice welcome and take care of him and I hear he’s a hard working guy.” He had power in the place. People respected him. They just listened to the man and nobody said a thing… Then we went downstairs and kicked ass. Some of the best cooks I have ever seen or worked with are in that kitchen. They are so passionate and made me want to come back home to bring some of that passion down here… One of the chefs went out and bought a toaster for the kitchen, just because he thought it would make some things work smoother in the kitchen. The cooks are all formally trained and you can tell that it’s from Sawyer… One time I was given leeks to wash and I plunged them into the water bath and the guys were like no no no, put them gently on the water so the dirt falls to the bottom… It’s little things like that that are so refreshing. To see things done right and enforced… And these are the line cooks! They know…. I was there for 4 days and in 4 days I learned more than in my last couple jobs… Everybody does everything in the kitchen… The pastry chef is cutting fish. And they are meticulous about everything… They are doing things the right way. There is no half-assing it.
Now that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Thank you for supporting our pop-ups and stagiaire series this year… We can’t do it without you. Stay tuned to our events page on the blog for more genuine fun and learning in the new year!