Here I sit, at the end of 2009, and it feels like everything is different.  None of the details have changed;  I still live in San Francisco, and I still cook at Nopa as a sous chef.  I'm still writing this blog.  But when I look in the mirror, or have a quiet moment to myself, things feel different.  2009 was a crazy year for me.  It was a good year for me.  In 2009 this blog seemed to find its place.  Through things that seem as trivial as a twitter account, or a podcast, I met people and made friendships that are deeply important to me.  Through countless emails I was able to connect with cooks from all over the world.  As everything seemed to be expanding and moving towards one big interpersonal disconnect, the opposite ended up happening.  My world got smaller.  Then I turned 30, and came to realize that I needed to take life a little more seriously.  Soul searching, introspection, whatever.  I made some decisions, and decided to stick to them.  Then I woke up one day, and wow.  Things had changed.

2010 is a little scary to think about.  A friend of mine said to me "2010 is the first year I haven't been excited about."  I had never thought about it like that, and im not sure that's my sentiment.  But it does feel like a giant, scary beast that I have to tackle...like im getting into the ring with a faceless terror.  In the following year im going to to be faced with figuring out whether im a better writer or a better cook.  There's a chance that this blog could end in 2010.  There isnt an infinite amount of topics for me to write about here.  Sometimes I feel like im just regurgitating the same old garbage.  Add to that the fact that im going to be a father, and want to open a restaurant this year, and things start to get very cloudy and scary and im suddenly very aware that nothing feels perfect or right, but things just are.  It's an amazing thing to be faced with the rest of your life.  I thought I knew what it would feel like, and how I would deal with it.  I don't.  And I suspect that's perfectly normal.

The thing is, its not like anything is actually ending.  If anything, things are just beginning.  After a year like 2009, where things were so good and changed so much, I can only imagine what's coming.  It's possible that just being daunted about knowing that you have to make something for yourself is enough to leave you shaking...but maybe its better to try to run through all of the insecurity and bullshit now, before everyone is toasting at midnight.

So whats next?  What's going to happen come July, or next December?  Shit, what's going to happen next week?  Does the fear or uncertainty ever go away?  Do things ever start to feel right, or perfect?  Or is it more important to just let things happen?

My Best Meals of 2009:
  • Coi
  • Flour & Water, every time
  • 5 Points
  • Ippudo
  • Freeman's
Places I Ate At, Often:
  • Flour & Water
  • Fish & Farm
  • Out the Door
  • Katana - Ya
  • Nopalito
  • Arguello Market
Stuff I Couldn't Live Without:
  • A good pen
  • The iphone
  • My pocket knife
  • A Moleskin, even if it is falling apart
  • Friends
  • The Pixies, TV on the Radio, Old Outkast
  • Access to Twitter
  • Flickr
  • My Macbook
Culinary Fantasy League:
My Team:
  • Raw - Michael Black
  • Garde Manger - Jon Smulewitz
  • Pasta - Micheal Tusk
  • Veg/Garnish - Mourad Lalou
  • Fish - Stuart Brioza
  • Meat - Ryan Farr
  • Sous Chef - Daniel Patterson
  • Chef - Thomas Keller
Eddie's Team:
  • Sautee - Charles Phan
  • Veg - Jeremy Fox
  • Garde Manger - Taylor Bottechier
  • Grill - Ryan Farr
  • Pasta - Tom McNaughton
  • Sous Chef - Me (haha!)
  • Chef - Jacques Pepin
Mer-Mer's Team, based solely on looks:
  • Michael Black
  • Brandon Jew
  • Tom McNaughton
  • Jay Foster
  • Mongoose
quotes and conversations:

Me:  There's snowmobiles.  And guns.
Kitty:  Can we shoot guns while we're on the snowmobiles?
Me:  I guess so.
Kitty:  Wow.  It's like a Mariah Carey video.

(Merrell is hitting me in the shoulder, over and over again)
Paulie:  Isn't Savannah a pornstar?
(The hitting continues)
Me:  You know Paulie, not everything has to do with porn.
(More hitting)
Me:  What?!?
Merrell:  It's Ryan Seacrest on seat three!
Me:  Yeah.  I know.  Anyways...

Me:  Do I look like a botanist to you?
Gerardo:  I don't know what a botanist looks like.

"Mer-mer, if I gave you a titty twister and asked you to name five candy bars, could you do it?"

Dega:  You're the boss.
Me:  That's right.  I am the fuckin' boss.  I'm the fuckin' Bruce Springsteen of this kitchen.  And you're my Courtney Cox.  I'm gonna dance with you onstage, which is then gonna turn into a lucrative sitcom career in the nineties, only to have you marry David Arquette and have it fall to pieces in the two-thousands. 
Merrell:  And don't forget the numerous miscarraiges.
Me:  .......

"I thought of that old joke, y'know, the, this... this guy goes to a
psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a
chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?"
The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs." Well, I guess that's
pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally
irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, uh, I guess we keep
goin' through it because, uh, most of us... need the eggs.
" -Woody Allen, Annie Hall


Ginger said...

Thanks for including me in the best meals of 2009. Also, I will be really sad if you stop writing, just so you know.

Michael Walsh said...

Great post my friend, very thought provoking. I only hope my wrap up of 09 an be as interesting.


Dana said...

dude, no one's team includes a pastry chef. Ouch.

Kari said...

Please don't stop writing....

don't touch my knife said...

please dont stop writing man, this blog is the only one Ive found that seems to actually speak to the cooks. this shit inspires me for the week.

Lisa said...

Thanks for a great year and for letting so many of us cook vicariously through you.

scallops said...

And thank you for being a voice of inspiration, humor and no-BS advice to this young line cook all the way in Hawaii. Your writing, podcasts and Emails are always refreshing and insightful. Keep it up chef and have happy 2010.

Adam said...

just to let you know, ruhlman has your blog under listed on his website. go you my friend, go you.

write if you get something out of it still. but if its a push everyday or every week to make yourself write a blog entry, then why not take a break?

all in all i think that everyone who reads this blog has a lot of respect for you and enjoys reading what goes on in your kitchen and around the SF area. i personally like the pictures ( not to sound too dimwitted) because i have so many similar ones on my phone of my kitchen and the various shenanigans that take place.

if you do decide to stop writing the blog ill be in california within the next year visiting family and hopefully working there withing the next two, and id love to stop by the restaurant and eat

and drink, but thats a given.

all the best

Drew said...

You forgot to mention Courtney Cox being from an affluent suburb of Birmingham, Alabama.

David Kilmer said...

you rock!

Zak said...

And it still seems like yesterday I first found your blog when I was freaking out about taking my first hash slinging job and googled line cooking because I was too embarrassed to ask my brother what to expect. April 2008 was a damn while ago, though, and now I'm starting to see your world of beautiful plates and real food. And I probably would have bitched out of that first cooking job if somehow this blog didn't stick into my head some notion of satisfaction or even bizarre love-hate involving the kitchen. Thanks a million man.