I watched an interesting documentary the other evening, 42 Grams. It started off with a chef and his wife, running an underground restaurant from their apartment in Chicago. Let me just interject here for a moment, this is not an idea that I am looking to entertain - ever. However, the film did speak to me. It spoke to me, especially at this time of year, when I always reflect on when I left the Irish restaurant that I spent 7 years at. As Alexa, the wife and one of the main focal points of the movie said, "the name is just a riff on the idea that the soul weighs 21 grams: 42 Grams represents what both Jake and I bring to the space.”. The title of the film is derived from the name of the restaurant that the husband and wife started together.
At the beginning of the movie, I could completely relate to Jake, the husband and chef in the piece. He expressed how and why he came to get out of restaurants after so many years. He realised that he was moving in the direction of making his dream a reality, but at some point did not believe in the journey any more. This was how I was feeling when the restaurant was sold and the new owner wanted to turn it into a pub. I thought while working at the Irish restaurant, this was going to be the big goal that I had always worked toward. New people came in, and I could see that the "soul" that I had put into it, was being choked out of all of its life.
In the movie, the chef would watch sous chefs killing themselves for their head chefs and owners, who would get all of the glory without having to put in much time. People would come to these restaurants and eat food that was basically "assembled" and not really "cooked". That was where I envisioned the new pub going. The direction and feel of the pub were all about "getting the food out" and less about quality. That is not to say that it actually became that way. That was how I envisioned the way it was headed.
It was then I decided that I could either cook for business or for passion. In that scenario, I was not going to have it both ways. I perceive the chef that took over the now pub as one who is not passionate about that food. Granted, he may be good at cooking, but his cooking lacks passion and soul. I am sure he is good at business, but his passion is not my passion. So we are different in that sense. That is why I would rather cook for passion than for business. To paraphrase the bible verse: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot have a passion (for food) and making money."
That was how I made the choice not to stay on with the new owners and the pub. I needed to retain the passion that I had finally found. I am not a person who finds happiness in money. Yes, it makes things easier sometimes. But my happiness comes from my work. A dear friend of mine once inscribed a cookery book as a gift to me, "Get happiness out of your work or you may never know what happiness is." - Elbert Hubbard. That is what I have strived for ever since I realised that money does not motivate me. My happiness comes from the quality work that I produce, and not from the dollars or numbers that the food I make generates.
That was the choice that I needed to make at that time. As I have said before, I always wish it a success. The new owners seem to be happy with how it has turned out. That is the important thing. Perhaps more importantly for them is, that people seem to be happy with it. We definitely do not have the same vision of how a business should be. That is okay.
Their vision is not how I pictured it in my mind. Then again, I am more of a purist. I like things more simplistic and "rural". The pubs I enjoy most are the ones in small towns, where you could "walk down to the local". Those pubs are the ones where you can sit and engage with the people of the town. City pubs are not bad. They just are not my style. They cater to tourists more than the local clientele. Rural pubs’ food comes more from the heart than it does from the account ledgers. Rural pubs’ food is the food of someone's soul. To me, you cannot put a price on that 21 grams of passion.