It has been a long time since I stood a shift in any kitchen. By my own (admittedly poor) accounting, it has been 2,650 days since I last picked up a knife, pulled on my whites or stood before a stove in any sort of professional capacity. I've missed it, sure. I loved the time I spent cooking and still consider the nights I spent with a knife in my hand to be some of the best of my life. But I never missed it quite enough to ever consider, you know... going back.
Until now, that is. On October 23, for one night only, I will be stepping back into the traces as a working cook and doing my level best not to burn the house down at Mezcal.
Why am I doing this? And, more to the point, why are Jesse Morreale and Sean Yontz allowing me to defile the cool and calm of their galley, when they know full well that the odds of me doing anything useful are slim and the odds of me causing something catastrophic to happen a virtual sure thing? For the same reason that anyone can be talked into doing just about anything these days: Because it's going to be on TV.
Or I should say, because it might be on TV. See, what I will be doing on Friday, October 23 is shooting an abbreviated episode of what I hope will soon be a new television show featuring yours truly -- a pure exploration of kitchens and the guys who work in them done in the most honest and natural way I could conceive of: by spending a night working alongside those who do the job every night.
Yes, it will probably be a disaster. Yes, terrible things are going to happen. But it's also going to be a helluva lot of fun, what with all the cameras and the producers and me wandering around like an idiot trying to remember how to do things that were second nature to me less than a decade ago. I'll be helping out with prep, working the line, getting my ass handed to me by the heavy-duty mercenaries who staff the kitchen at Mezcal and, because I have no doubt that I have gone soft over all these years spent writing about dinner rather than cooking it, making them look like the hard boys they are while I stand there just trying not to light myself on fire.
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And everyone is welcome to come on down to Mezcal and be a part of the action. The house will be running its normal dinner service, but as if navigating a normal Friday night at Mezcal isn't going to be challenging enough, Yontz (in his infinite and smart-ass wisdom) has decided that he will also throw an impromptu tequila dinner that night just to amp up the pressure. A tequila dinner that, along with working on the line and cooking the regular menu, I will be helping him prepare.
We met about it yesterday, and he told me to put the news out there as soon as possible: five off-menu courses, each with a paired tequila, all being put together by Yontz, his crew and (god help them all) me. Getting into Mezcal for the regular service? That's free, same as always. Tickets for the tequila dinner are $45 each and severely limited (25 guests, no more), so I suggest you make your arrangements fast if you're interested. Reservations can be made through the M. Inc. offices at 303-333-8282.
I'll have more details -- like menus, times, shooting details and maybe even the name of the potential show (if we come up with one) -- as we draw closer to D-Day. But in the meantime, mark your calendars and clear that Friday night. I promise its going to be wild. And hey, if the highly improbable happens, this thing actually turns into a real TV show and I become all crazy-famous like Anthony Bourdain or Rocco DiSpirito or that fat guy from Survivor who went to jail for tax evasion? Well, then you can say you were there for the start of it all.
Or failing that, you can say you were there on the last night when completely-not-famous restaurant critic Jason Sheehan actually had all ten of his fingers attached to his body...