Ok, I could get all philosophical about the restaurant scene in the Twin Cities right now, we know that people love to speculate and talk TOOOOO much about what might, what could, and what will happen, and then when it all does, they want to speculate on how right or wrong it the changes have made the restaurant scene.
But, I won’t. The reason for posting here, and reviving this outdated blog, is that it has become for me a place to mark milestones, I don’t strive to write weekly, monthly, or heck, I don’t have a calendar reminder to tell me to put up a post. When it feels right, I write.
” The Modern Cafe is looking for a sous chef” - That is what started it all. In the Star Tribune, I read a help wanted add. I was looking for a job, which, y the very nature of where I was looking for a job, should tell you how much I had to learn about the restaurant industry at that time. I went there, checked it out, and called for an interview. The story has some funny parts, but that is for sitting around and talking, not this post.
This is about THANKS. Thanks to Patty and Jim Grell for all the years of teaching, coaching, eating, drinking, and believing in me. Simple as that.
When I started, I had no idea what it took to work in a restaurant, let alone run one. They taught me more in a year, than I ever learned in school. I look back at the Modern as my “COLLEGE DAYS” It was very much a fraternity, that in the end, I realized was more about a family. Everyone that was there, as they moved in and out, staff, vendors, farmers, customers, they all had that connection to that moment in my life.
I would cook with Jim and we would talk about anything but food, his choice, and all I wanted to talk about was food. I wondered what the hell am I learning from this guy, and then it would happen. I would make something, and I was able to replicate what he did, with out even knowing how I learned it. (not as good of course) Then he would spend more time running the business and working the art scene in NE, getting the name out there, working with the Sheridan Neighborhood Organization and he would not be around cooking as much, and I wanted to have him teach me more. He would bounce back and forth to the kitchen sometimes, prepping in the basement, which sometimes ended up wrestling on the concrete basement floor (he wrestled in high school, something I never knew at first, but learned VERY QUICKLY) He would come in at 3 pm and say that he was making the special tonight, and would change a bunch of stuff, he would also yell at me for food cost and then order in sushi grade tuna, show me a special and then tell me to make it work. He never stopped teaching me to cook, it was just not in a classroom sort of way, or a demo, if it did not break me, I learned.
Patty and I worked together in a different way, it was business and the team and bouncing back and forth of what was Jim up to that day. The one memory that sticks in my mind was working in the early morning hours in the basement with Patty when she was baking desserts. We both had just been working with music on, getting ready for the day, nothing real crazy, just another day. It was a great thing that I learned, sometimes you just shut out the outside world and focus on the food. Focus on the preparation for the day and get your mise right. A lot happened in that basement, great food, laughs, fist fights, gnocchi, and pot roast all happened in that basement. That day happened to be Sept. 11th.
Everyone that worked at the Modern, had very different experiences, however, the constant was you two. Patty and Jim, started cooking, washing dishes, waiting tables, and doing everything when they stated. Then are moving on after teaching so many what the restaurant business is about; food, community, fun, and doing what you love.
Patty and Jim, I can’t say thank you enough.