002: Behind every successful man…
Remember during “Women’s Lib” in the 70′s, how everyone ran around saying, “Behind every successful man is a woman”? Well my take is “Behind every successful man is a woman rolling her eyes.” Kidding. Kind of.
Cyn here (Mitch’s wife and “handler”)
When we were urged to start a blog, my first question was “what in the hell would we write about?” There are plenty of great food blogs out there, so why would anyone want to bother reading ours? Then I took a few swigs of vodka (not really; I quit drinking to support Mitch’s court-required abstinence) but once we started writing down ideas, we couldn’t turn off our mis-wired brains.
The best idea we came up with was NO idea…we figured our lives are complicated and crazy enough without having to have a plan (ha ha, which is why we have no retirement funds), so this blog will truly be full of diatribes, opinions, behind-the-curtain peeks and some hard truths about what it really is like to own/run/survive a restaurant. No “reality tv” scripted bull balls here. The real stories (and the ones that sometimes get us in trouble with more well-behaved folks) will be truthfully told, and if we scrape a few knees along the way, well, that’s just the way we are.
Many of you already know Mitch is “out there” as a renegade (Jacques Pepin, internationally-renowned chef to French Presidents and dear friend of Julia Child, said “Mitch Omer makes Anthony Bourdain look like an altar boy” and by God, it’s true). What you might not know is that he really is “certifiable”…in proper terms, Mitch was finally properly diagnosed with BiPolar Disorder and it took years to get it under control.
When I met Mitch (online, 11 years ago), I wrote, “After a very sane, calm 25-year marriage, this time around I’m looking for someone sane AND insane at the same time.” His answer was “Bingo! You’ve got me on both counts” but I truly had no idea what I was stepping into. Bullshit, yeah, but surrounding it I found a diamond in the rough, a man who always spoke the truth (except when he lied about his drinking), a beautiful and generous man (who gave away stuff others actually owned) with principles (yet still somehow found a way to land his ass in jail). No surprises here folks; it’s all in the cookbook. After the cookbook was published, his mom Annie said, “Mitch, did you really have to write about everything?” and he looked at her very seriously and said, “No Mom, there’s a lot of stuff I didn’t even put in there!”)
So that’s what we’ll write about…the stories that didn’t get into the book. (Continued below if you care/dare to keep reading…)
And this now serves as my little intro to my big Mitch. (Ha! For years, the Spanish-speaking amigos in the kitchen called him “Hefe” and he thought it was a derogatory term referring to his size…but it turns out it’s their term of endearment –”the big boss”– and you’ll never find a more loyal crew to him than these guys because every Sunday he’d pull them into his office and have them call their homeland on his dime.)
Anyway, Mitch’s craziness is real —he bounced through life like a pinball til he quit drinking and let the meds do their work. Now stabilized (he looks down at his crotch and says “I’ve been fixed”), life for us has settled down (a bit) and been sweet (most of the time). But I’ll bet you’re not reading this far for boring “life is good” foodie stories….nah, we’ve had a roller coaster ride and it’s my intent to finally lay it all on the line so you can see how the wizards behind the curtains really roll. And I can guarantee lots of Mitch’s posts will cause his mom to cringe and lots of my posts might cause others to raise eyebrows. But at least you’ll be able to see why a 6’4″ pinball married to a Puerto Rican “jumping bean” get along so well, and (along with posts from our other rogues at the restaurant) what makes Hell’s Kitchen tick.
PS Yup these are ramblings but hang in there…we’re trying to train our brains to behave better. I’m a former high school teacher who should write more properly but please don’t grab my elbow and point out all my grammatical and sentence structure errors, at least not til I get a bit more confident with these blog entries.
Cyn (aka Cynthia Gerdes)
PSS And yes, that’s my name. Not Sin. But it’s hilarious to watch customers who don’t know me hearing someone call me Cyn, the name I’ve gone by since I was born in the East Village in New York City. They think we made it up to tie in with the Hell’s Kitchen name but nah, we’re not that smart.