One chef. 11 diners. 8 courses. Hard work. Grace under pressure.
I went out last night for a special treat, a dinner at Stir Boston. A few friends strongly recommended it, and I’m glad I went. It truly was an amazing feast (see photo at the left), but it really brought home to me how hard restaurant team members work.
Here’s the context. The place has a cult following. Every few months, they post on their web site their upcoming dinners. There are various themes. You email a request for reservations as fast as you can. Nearly all nights sell out within 10 minutes.
The deal is that it’s a restaurant, but really, it felt like a cooking demonstration at someone’s house. There’s only one seating a night. Only 10 to 11 diners cram around a small u-shaped table, and at one end, there’s a cooktop for the chef, who cooks right there before your eyes.
There’s a lot of friendly banter among the diners, and you can ask the chef any question regarding the food, prep, strategy, etc. There’s a sommelier there, who explains why they picked what wine with each course. It’s pretty cool.
Last night, Chef Eric LeBlanc cooked an amazing meal. All by himself. General Manager Abby Gregory gave some awesome descriptions of the wine and helped plate and clear. She really knows her stuff. In between courses, Eric and Abby washed the dishes.
The pair really set the tone for a fun night. I was so impressed with their humor, easy-going style and warmth, even as they’re in the middle of a hurricane while cooking, serving and clearing eight courses and cleaning a mountain of plates and wine glasses. And, there was that Indonesian dude asking way too many questions while they worked.
For me, it was valuable to see how much work goes into preparing a restaurant meal. Eric preps nearly all day for each evening, and he does it all himself and has very few days off. It’s one thing when meals are prepped and cooked out of sight. It’s entirely different when you witness first-hand the hard work and passion. Wow. Real expertise and love went into last night’s meal.
Thank you, Eric and Abby, for a fun and educational meal!