I have to say that nothing makes me happier/prouder than seeing young cooks and chefs who have worked with me in the past and present taking the next step.
Watching Matt Harlan who has worked for me for the past ten years and is now our chef at lolita has grown into a man and a chef right before my eyes. He helps me develop menus, runs the kitchen, keeps his new wife happy and helps raise his newborn. It is mindboggling to me considering that when we hired him 10 years ago he could barely manage himself, forget juggling all the responsabilities he has now.
Jon Sawyer is now the chef/owner of a great spot callled Bar Cento and is putting out some of the best rustic Italian food in the city and was recently nominated for a James Beard award for rising star chef. Jon could always cook but I'm amazed how fast this once pig headed little shit has learned how to run a kitchen and manage a staff.
Josh Kabat who I referred to as Meat when he worked with me owns a great gastropub called Red Stone and is also doing a great job with some of the best pub food in the city. This is a guy who was an hour late for his first interview and once mistook powdered sugar for cornstarch when trying to cure a little chafing problem after a longs night work (talk about a sticky situation..lol) Once again it blows my mind that he is now running his own gig and doing it well
The one thing that all of these guys have in common is a amazing work ethic and a burning desire to succeed. In my heart I knew they would all be successful even though they all made me insane. It is such a great feeling to walk into their restaurants/kitchens and watching them run the show. It brings me greater joy than any award I have ever received and makes me feel like the 80 hour weeks and late night lectures are all worth it. It also makes me realize that I must be getting old...some of these guys weren't even old enough to drink when I hired them
live to cook, ms