An Open Letter to My Daughter

So, you became a vegetarian. If memory serves, it started when you were 9 and Mom took you to Fuddruckers where you saw a side of beef hanging on a hook. It just didn’t seem right to eat another animal, did it? As the years passed you became more involved in the moral issue and eventually became vegan. As did your sister.

Good for you both.

Then I partnered with Carena to open a Jamaican restaurant replete with oxtails, curry chicken, beef patties, and goat. I then went on to other opportunities leaving you to manage the restaurant. How hard it must have been at times. I know.

So I sold my interest and we opened a nice, friendly, health oriented bistro serving food that I can only describe as, well, fucking awesome. For lack of an exhaust hood we relied on a tiny, hand build, double deck stone pizza oven and proceeded to make all of our pitas to order for the sandwiches, amazing pizzas, crazy good cookies and cupcakes (thanks to your mom). Oh, and the tapioca pudding. Add soups and salads and you have a restaurant to satisfy even hard core carnivores.

I was one. Carnivore, that is. Still am. But I remember working there the first eight months and realizing how seldom I ate meat. Not for moral reasons, mind you, but because the food was so good I didn’t miss it.

That’s behind me now. Today I’m taking your grandmother to O’Toole’s for a burger. But your mission continues. Feeding healthful food to people that ‘get it’. I know a day doesn’t pass that customers don’t shake your hand and say “thank you”. Your food is every bit as good as anything I have served in my restaurants.

Yet, there’s a fly in the ointment. While you’re trying to make pennies on the dollar, Five Guys gets $2.49 for $.17 worth of cola flavored corn syrup and $3.69 for two potatoes, cut and deep fried. Two burgers, one fry and two sodas cost me $22. You could pay off your mortgage and buy a new car at those prices.

Something’s terribly wrong here.

So, to make money you need to jack up your prices to reflect your costs and you need a soda fountain. OK? Call Coke today and have it delivered. And no more of this “I don’t want to serve chemical additives and genetically modified food” baloney. Suck it up. Serve a hot dog.

Or, stand by your principles. Sure, you’re helping make people healthier. Look how many of your customers come in 2, 3, 5 times a week. And new ones every day who apparently “just heard about you”. You’re not only doing the right thing, you’re doing it very well. I’m more than proud. I stand in awe.



I just got back from Iceland, cooking for their annual Food and Fun event.

Apparently the country is no longer bankrupt.  In fact, it seemed to be rather bustling.   And, as it turns out, Iceland is green and Greenland is ice.  The theory is that the Vikings figured by calling it Iceland they would be less prone to being conquered.

Anyway, this shark dish was awful!  A group of a dozen chefs from around the world were eating lunch at the Three Jackets when we were asked if we wanted to try the local specialty, stinky shark.  Most sharks, you see, urinate through their skin.  Some culinary genius figured out that if you were to hang the shark for six months it would putrefy, making the urine more pronounced.  Yum.   Luckily for the chefs, the shark was served with a clear schnapps know in Iceland as brennivin or ‘black death’.  Unluckily for me, I don’t drink.  So while they were frantically gulping down the antidote, I was left there to chew and swallow.

To illustrate just how offensive the flavor of this chewy shark is, we put some out on the sidewalk for our host’s dog to evaluate.  Think for a minute about what a dog is willing to eat.  For the first time in my life I actually saw a dog spit something halfway across a street.

While in Iceland, we also got to sample sashimi minke whale (mild) and puffin (much like duck).  Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to try the ‘rotted skate wing’ since they only eat it once a year, on December 23rd.  Darn, maybe next year.