A couple weeks ago I was in a nice restaurant, in a small Hawaiian town, ruining my birthday. Michelle was nice enough to take me away for a week to celebrate. We sat there as I explained (and men love explaining, do you know how much? A lot. The word, “explain,” comes from the Middle English, “explate,” meaning, uh, shit I’m off track.) How and why the lamb is different/better at Mistral Kitchen.
You see, Chef William Belickis and I had talked a lot about animal butchery over our daily espressos. Mostly I was wearing a half Windsor; mostly he was in a bloody chef jacket. I went on talking to Michelle about lamb processing until I eventually caught myself ruining* a romantic evening and shut up.
The rest of the trip was slaughterhouse free and more pleasant: pretty silk dresses, linen suits and Mai Tais; yes we are awesome. This doesn’t really give credit to how great it was. And because a picture is worth 3,000 of Andrew’s words, here is one that helps explain.
I would have been quite happy to learn more about blood n’ guts from William, marshmallows & Star Wars from Neil, wine from Patrick & Alex, and ichthyology from Amber. It would have been easy to stay for a few more years and keep learning from my amazing colleagues, but since I’m a bartender, and not sushi chef/sommelier/pâtissier it was only logical that I leave this civilization, with machete in hand and hack & slash forth in a jungle of new opportunity .
What will I be doing?
- Sleeping in
- Bumming around town
- Guest bartending at the Rob Roy and other locations TBD
- Presenting at Tales of the Cocktail
- Writing drunk
- I’ve got to finish Drinking Like a Man
- Editing sober
- (Fuck that, Michelle** can edit for me (please)). [Editors note: Correctly closing parenthetical statements may seem OCD but it really helps a programmer’s ability to keep reading and not get stuck in a loop.]
- Working on a business plan
- An early idea involved dinosaur DNA, and a bottle of whiskey. But then I decided to stay more within my, “drink making,” skill set and this will be more exciting for all parties, except dinosaurs.
- Traveling to do consulting
- Beginning with training up Fairmont Hotel Staff around the world.
I’m at the point of my career that I need to travel and seek out completely different things. Mistral challenged what I thought was possible out of a cocktail bar, I made new systems and fully deified mise en place. The kitchen showed me a lot and gave me a path. And, as much as I want to watch Tiffany perfect the Saturday night Waffle /Foie Gras combo, I need to learn why bartenders in Southeast Asia stir counter clockwise and what style the French bartenders wear their mustaches. Mistral will still be doing awesome things while I’m seeing the world.
One of the proudest moments in my career was when I first heard that a 140 seat fine dining restaurant was going to open in downtown Seattle and that they planned to have a craft cocktail bar to service the place. I thought, “No one in Seattle can do that.” Then I did. I’m very proud of that. I didn’t know that I could. Now that I’m gone Ashley Pugh is taking over for me and I think she can do it, too. Strong Bad Voice: **you know, like, she can do things like this and the other thing.**
I’m going to take these skills and attempt the modest goal I set out for 5 years ago when I decided to be good at this job, “Make it possible to get a good Manhattan at every bar in the world.” No big deal, right? Mistral gave me new perspective and skills to make that happen. I now have the energy to go out and do more teaching, writing and traveling. I have had a quick transition from bar manager to the romanticized rōnin, but I’ve been wanting to be that guy for a while. I’ve been wanting to be credited as, “an influential guy that inspires better drinks,” and that is happening now, too. If I do things correctly, hopefully it will happen more. Perhaps, I can even get some sort of building where people can come visit me like Lucy and her $0.05 advice stand, except maybe I’ll have stools they can sit on, some chairs and tables too.
Goodbye Mistral Kitchen, hello everything else.
*It was later mentioned to me that requesting a “Full Lulu” – defined as the expression of love when a cat nibbles the tip of your nose – very loudly in a mostly empty restaurant at the end of the evening may have been more of a, “ruiner.”
**Blog posts will now be edited by girlfriend editor Michelle K Broderick of No Pants Editing Group. Though a top notch editing group, unfortunately No Pants Editing can not take public meetings as she has, no pants.