Good books or pieces of music stay in your mind a long time as do things people said long ago. How that works is a mix of personal needs and desires and wider appeal of the experience. Sometimes a phrase spoken decades ago will be recalled and mean something only to you; other times a tune will come to mind, and it’s popular and many people think of it often.
About a couple of dozen restaurants are favorites. The food, of course, but who I was with, a time in my life, the conviviality of the place.
The challenge for anyone creating experience for others is to stay true, consistent, and empathic. For artists that can take place over time: When you read a certain book, you may not like it, but on a second reading you may feel and think differently and then consider it a wonder. For me a book that is like that is, “The Leopard.”
For chefs, it’s different, it’s more immediate–customers want to feel and think positively when they are in the restaurant and not only days or years later. That task of creating immediately what are meant to be memorable experiences is rarified:
Most chefs aren’t capable of creating memories. Most chefs aren’t even interested in doing so. They’re trying to make a living, period.
What that means pragmatically is that most restaurants aren’t especially good. It’s the rare chef who wants to and can create an experience that is memorable.
Why is creating a memorable experience valuable?
Otherwise we’re just shuffling through life, kind of aimlessly, not progressing. We are who we are because of what we do, but we are also behaviorally the sum of our memorable experiences.
So why bother to eat in restaurants that don’t inspire memories?
Better to cook at home or eat in your hotel room. More intimate, and intimacy is often a step towards remembering what just happened.