March 28, 2017
Staff Reunites After NYC Pop-Up
Daniel Receives Chef of the Year Nomination
Kristian and company returned from the pop up at Chef’s Club in NYC this week. Little was said about the actual pop-up, aside from that it went well, and the first shipment of monk fish they received was shit. They ate at Eleven Madison Park (the number three restaurant in the world right now). Leonardo DiCaprio ate at the table next to them. They all said the service was amazing, and the food was good, but not the best meal they’ve ever had. To me, it simply reinforced the sentiment I’ve been developing that, perhaps, awards should be taken less seriously. Perhaps it’s all subjective, and, “the best food in the world,” means something different to each person. And who knows, the best restaurant out there could be in Austin or Perth, or somewhere the Michelin guide doesn’t review. I guess what I’m getting at, is I believe restaurants should be about their food and their guests, rather than fame, recognition, or accolades.
Having everyone back feels nice. Things just felt off while part of the team was away. Things have been different this week at the restaurant. Everyone is trying just a little harder to make it a better atmosphere to work in, and not so crushing, day in and day out. I can see people stretching their patience and taking deep breaths. Tones are more subdued, albeit stern. I know it takes effort to be more composed, especially in the pressure cooker type environment in which we work. Nevertheless, I appreciate the effort on everyone’s part to be a better, more patient, more compassionate team.
I am the last intern. The other intern had his last day today, and returns to Estonia later this week. This means I am the de facto best, and worst intern.
The horizon is daunting. In the coming weeks, we’ll be putting new items on the menu, and will begin to receive overwhelming amounts of fresh produce from the farm, meaning more and more man hours to break down, clean, prep, and store each new ingredient. It seems we’ll also be adding patio seating outside, meaning an additional 40 seats available for lunch service (which, to date, has been negligible) and dinner service. May 15, we’ll be receiving 15 new interns. That’s exciting for everyone at the restaurant, as it will help to alleviate some of the workload. However, May 15 is also my last day, meaning I won’t get to reap any of that reward. Kristian reminded us that the coming weeks will be hard, but if we can make it through until the next round of interns, we can make it through anything. It’s how I’ve felt and what I’ve told myself through this whole experience.
This week, I received news that Feast Magazine has nominated me for Chef of the Year in Southwest Missouri. It came as a huge surprise. It took me a bit to process and figure out how I really felt about it. Initially, it made me feel guilty. 108 has shown me how much more I have inside me, how much harder I can work, and how much more I can give. The nomination made me feel guilty because I felt like I hadn’t pushed hard enough to deserve such high praise.
Cassidy Rollins, our beautiful and badass FOH manager, was also nominated as Rising Star of the year. She does an amazing job, and we couldn’t do the pop-up without her. She keeps us organized, looking good, and feeling good. She may not always be in the spotlight, but she deserves all the praise we can give her. I’m incredibly glad to call her my friend and my partner, and am thrilled that her efforts are being recognized by Feast.
I’m not sure who told Kristian about the nomination, or how he found out, but he was incredibly excited for me and very supportive. He posted about it on our staff’s Facebook page and told everyone to go vote for me. He congratulated me on multiple occasions. It felt incredible, but extremely humbling at the same time. That’s the biggest feeling that has come out of the nomination: humility.
To be mentioned on the same list as my boss and mentor, Wes Johnson, as well as other incredibly accomplished chefs, means a lot to me. Perhaps, what means the most is that the nomination wasn’t slighted toward my age (for example, something like best new chef, young gun, up and comer, etc.). I am young, and I have a lot more to learn and a lot more to give. I’m incredibly grateful for the experience I’m having here in Copenhagen, and for the platform I’ve been given back home.
I can’t say it enough or to enough people, but thank you. Thank you to our guests for believing in us. Thank you to my partners for supporting this crazy dream with me. Thank you to those who’ve worked behind the scenes to give us the time and resources we need—Wes Johnson and Travis Jenkins. Thank you to Ana Pierce, Greg Holman, Vivian Wheeler, and everyone else who has written about us. And thank you to everyone else who’s pushed, supported, and cheered us on. If you haven’t voted, we would deeply appreciate it. You can do so here.
I have a lot more to say, but that seems like enough prattle for one week.