Monday, October 18, 2010

The house of Frank- part one

The title for this post is the English translation of the French restaurant (except for where it says part one) I worked at in the mid 90's.  This restaurant was voted the number one restaurant in the Washington DC area for many years by the voters of an upscale Washington DC magazine.

I tried for months to get a job at this place.  I first applied and heard nothing back.  After a few weeks I called back to ask the chef if there were any openings and he said "no." After that I called every couple of weeks for about a month or two until the chef finally told me to come in for an interview.

I was very excited the day of the interview.  This place had huge recognition in the Washington D.C. area and it would be a big coup for my resume. I hated the place I was working at at the time so I was also anxious to get the hell out of there.

I had never been to the restaurant before but I had seen pictures of it so I drove down the windy, hilly roads lined with trees and lush foliage in search of my new place of employment.  The road straightened out and I saw the restaurant on the left.  I pulled in the gravel driveway and marveled at its presence much like a child sports fan is in awe the first time he walks into a stadium.

To say the restaurant and its grounds were scenic would be like saying Sophia Loren is attractive. The restaurant boasted traditional Alsatian architecture featuring white walls in timber framing and cob and roofing in flat tile. The window frames located on each side of the front were painted in dark red with wooden shutters. A French flag hung to one side of the entrance and an American flag hung from the other.  The green shrubbery that lined the front of the restaurant contrasted nicely with the white walls while two large, wooden (almost Medieval) doors with a rounded top served as the entrance.

I opened the doors, which wasn't easy as they were heavy, and entered a dining room decorated in the style of a French country inn. More white walls, timber beams, chandeliers and one wall was painted a deep red with a hanging mirror. There were antiques the owner brought from France that he decorated the room with which added to the authenticity.  The tables were lined with white table cloths, fine silverware, stemware and candles. The room reeked of comfort, hospitality and gastronomy. I felt at home.  One thing I don't like about fine dining restaurants is the air of pretentiousness many of them have and this was one of the exceptions. Another thing that is sad is how much money some of these restaurateurs spend on their place but there is no atmosphere or character.  Again, that was not the case here.

I was waiting by the hostess stand and was approached by a short, fairly slim man who I assumed was the owner ando looked to be in his eighties. He was slightly hunched over with glasses, white hair and goat tee.  He was wearing the traditional hounds tooth chef pants with an unbuttoned chef jacket. He said hello and I shook his hand firmly while introducing myself.
We sat at a table and he reviewed my application. It wasn't the typical interview I was used to where you are drilled with hypothetical scenarios, quizzed on basic cooking techniques, my strengths and weaknesses and the lot.  
"This is very hard work you know?" He explained firmly.
"Yes sir, just give me a chance, I am sure I can handle it."
I got the feeling he was trying to scare me a bit or maybe he was just trying to size me up to see what I was made of. It wasn't a very long interview and he then asked me when I could start. I told him I would have to give two weeks notice at my current job but then I could start just after that.

So I got the job and I was totally stoked that my persistent pestering of the chef finally got me the job. I was also a bit apprehensive because a friend of mine knew someone who worked there and said that it was a very hard place to work and the owner was a tyrant. I wasn't deterred because the best places to work are the ones that are hard and that is hat I looked for in potential places of employment. For the two weeks leading up to my first day I was mentally preparing myself and getting psyched as I wanted to make sure I delivered once I got there.


To be continued

2 comments:

  1. I liked the description of the restaurant's architecture and grounds. After reading it I went to the restaurant Web site and saw pretty much what was in my mind's eye.

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