Remarkably, for 10 A.M. on a Sunday, 112 people showed up to my talk at the National Restaurant Association. It was an industry crowd, and the book evidently resonated for them, which was a thrill and a comfort, since, as a relative outsider, it’s good to know that I seem to have observed and documented correctly.
The questions differed from those asked at non-industry events or with media. In contrast to questions about crazy chefs and where I like to eat, the audience asked about generational differences in kitchens and among customers, and spoke thoughtfully about communication and motivation.
I trolled the huge convention booths afterwards, and was delighted by the excitement and the knowledge. The Japanese booth had a fine demonstration of sukiyaki. I sat next to a man who may have expressed annoyance with my question to the chef cooking the beef about gradations. The chef had said that five exist in Japan, but actually there are twelve. It was that kind of day.
Later, much later, I took a ninety minute boat tour organized perhaps by a Chicago architectural school, and learned an enormous amount about the stunning buildings that line the river.
Even later I went to Blackbird: It’s a wonderful restaurant, and my friend Patricia, a very well known chef, suggested tasting menus, as it was easier than choosing, and subsequently we had perfectly plated dishes of sturgeon, hamachi, lamb, pea soup, and all sorts of wonderful vegetables. The kitchen knew her, and they had been introduced to me via the book, and so of course we were slammed blissfully.
Today it’s live TV–three minutes–re the book, and then many hours in airports, which I love for the disorientation that ironically invokes reflection, and then home to the back of my house.