Morning Coffee at Antoinette’s
One of the things I love about chefs is that they are almost always compulsively creative. Generally speaking, chefs were the freaky kids who spent their teenage years doing tragically uncool things like rolling out dough. Having worked in the food biz since I was a dewy 22 years old (so, six whole years ago!), I get the feeling that most chefs don’t choose a life in cooking—it chooses them. This week, tired of my own view of the restaurant world (and, frankly, of reading my own unending words), I thought I’d ask a compulsively creative chef to share what a restaurant looks like through his eyes.
EDP asked Chef David DiBari of The Cookery to take a bunch of pictures with his cell phone during his day. DiBari’s photo essay will educate diners who think that a chef’s life is spent glamorously wrist-flexing fireballs in pans. Though diners know The Cookery for its quest to become (to quote DiBari) “progressively more simple,” we see that DiBari’s day actually is filled with clipboarded to-do lists and fastidiously organized mise en place. Click through the pictures below, and you’ll see DiBari conducting meetings with his staff. He wrestles suckling pigs with his bare (okay, gloved) hands, and extrudes spirals of very anatomical-looking sausages. His crew jokes around for the camera, pulling faces in the pass-through, before they disappear into their own private, steamy hells during the long and busy service. Far from schmoozing (and showy fireball tending), you see a chef doing what he’s supposed to do: DiBari is standing at the pass- through, reading every ticket and checking every plate.
Finally, the next morning, you’ll see DiBari (as he does every day) hovering over his coffee at Antoinette’s Pâtisserie, trying to work up the strength to do it all over again. Looking at these pictures, I realized how much I missed a cook’s sense of accomplishment. They must sleep the sleep of angels after all that work. Either that, or, like some factory workers, they have the whole drama repeated all night in their dreams.