Rage, Then Evolve Into the Machine
Since I'll be jetting off to Paris in a few weeks (finally getting some much needed R&R), I've started doing little things to pump myself up—like searching the web for interesting restaurants around my hotel, or watching old Bourdain episodes about France. I happened to catch a rerun of the 100th episode special where Tony and chef Eric Ripert meet up with young upstarts in the radically-changing Paris bistro scene; kids who are rebelling against the stodgy old guard of Parisian cuisine with its dependence upon Michelin stars, rules, and etiquette. Tony keeps laughing at poor Eric, who ends up repeatedly having to defend his position as the head chef at a one of the best restaurants in the world; as if that were a bad thing (something these other youngsters wanted to avoid at all costs—it seemed).
"There is room for both casual and fine dining. You can go to a U2 concert and then the next day go to the opera. It's not black and white; you don't have to choose one or the other," Eric says.
"But if you're young and starting out, it's important to attack U2. I think you almost have to," Tony went on to say.
"You don't run a three-starred Michelin restaurant to screw people over," Eric replied. "I do it because I have passion and I want to make people happy!"
I laughed out loud when I heard him say that because I understood exactly where he was coming from. I've come across that same attitude in my time as a spirits buyer; the people who analyze every aspect of whisky to figure out how the parent company is ripping them off (and ultimately how they can outsmart it!). Some of them thought buying a bottle of corporate whiskey meant they were selling out or getting duped, but really it just meant they were missing out on some really good hooch. Not every company that achieves success is being co-opted into a soulless system. Sometimes hard work and dedication simply move you up the ladder of life, where you try to make a larger number of people as happy as you originally made a smaller group. But we're always surprised to see how things can change when that happens ("I realize now that I am old," Eric says at one point).
I really enjoy watching Bourdain and his friend Eric because they see both sides of the coin; they enjoy both the top and bottom shelves of cuisine and they live in the moment. The older I get, the less radical I become in my beliefs and the more I look to simply enjoy myself; much like these guys.
No Reservations was a great show, by the way. I really miss it.