Whenever we have a day where things just fall apart, I snap an imaginary rubber bracelet that says W.W.T.M.D?
For example, in one 24/hour period:
Two people from our “A Team” were out sick,
a vendor ran very late with fresh food needed for lunch service,
our bison rancher anxiously explained he was running low on his free range herd and might have to stop delivery for “a month or so,”
a sudden summer rainstorm unexpectedly doubled the number of customers pouring down the stairway as they abandoned the neighboring outdoor cafes,
and the salamander, a critical piece of equipment (cheese melter), died an untimely death during dinner.
Let’s get this straight: I do NOT run the restaurant’s daily operations. (I honestly can’t even cook.) We have a Dream Team for that. But when a day like this occurs, my Stress-O-Meter goes haywire and I tend to bounce off the walls. Not in a fun bouncy way either. Let’s just say I’m a feisty Puerto Rican, not known for my “even, laid back temperament” under duress. Though I hope to God I’m never mean or nasty, I do have to admit it’s known as getting “The Cynthia Look.”
So whenever a day falls apart into a zillion little pieces and goes to hell, I stop, catch my breath, and wonder WWTMD?
What Would Tim McKee do?
Tim McKee, for anyone new or unfamiliar with the Twin Cities, is the owner of critically-acclaimed La Belle Vie in Loring Park as well as one of the Midwest’s most highly-awarded chefs. His handprints are all over other fabulous restaurants such as Sea Change and the searing hot Masu, which opened to jaw-dropping reviews. As if that’s not enough, he also won the 2009 James Beard Award (the “Oscar” of our food industry), beating out some seriously tough nationally-recognized competition.
But the awards aren’t as important to me as the man, so back to my imaginary W.W.T.M.D? rubber bracelet.
You see, Tim is one of those quiet, gracious, humble chefs that astonish me. How does he do it when things fall apart? How does TM keep his head on straight in crisis? Does he utter the F word or slam cooler doors or throw things? Does our local-boy-gone-famous guy EVER lose his cool? (continued below)
|Speaking of jaw-dropping reviews, did you see the incredible StarTribune 4-star review on St. Paul’s Meritage? Four stars!!! Swooning! Read all about the deliciousness HERE after you’ve finished reading about Angel Tim below.|
I know Tim only from a distance –he’s always been welcoming to Mitch and me– but I don’t personally know him any further than that. So the following observations are just my mind wondering, kinda like a little kid standing there after a tantrum, rocking back and forth with her eyes closed.
In my “restaurant mind”, I imagine that Tim McKee never loses his patience. E-V-E-R.
I imagine that his smile, as he greets those around him, is genuine.
I imagine he’s never presumptuous or egotistical.
I imagine McKee never stalks out of a restaurant because he wasn’t recognized.
I imagine he’s a gentle man, an excellent leader, a patient teacher.
And I know he doesn’t glad-hand but yet remains friendly and approachable.
You can just tell from his demeanor that this celebrated chef is slightly self-conscious about his well-deserved fame. (I bet his various kitchens will give him a good ribbing about my fawning.) And I’m hoping all this fabulousness doesn’t go to his head as it tends to do to ordinary mortals.
So far he’s seemed to keep both feet on the ground: A few months ago, we were celebrating my daughter’s birthday at Masu, and happened to be seated next to the McKee family which happened to be celebrating their daughter’s birthday, too. This was during the hectic “opening months,” yet his focus seemed to be solely on enjoying his family rather than looking around to see who recognized him or jumping out of his chair because of all the action at his very busy new place. That’s what I’m talking about; the kinda cool I strive to be.
Nope, I don’t have a crush on TM. But I do have a crush on his ethics, smarts, talent, modesty, demeanor and wonderful food. Tim, you’re Minneapolis’ shiny star and a chef’s chef. Please don’t change. We love you exactly the way you are. I also hope you’re happy and able to enjoy your successes. And if money’s your thing, I also hope you’re rich or at least smiling all the way to the bank. You deserve it.
And now, Tim, will you please tell me how you manage to do it? So I can learn patience and calm and be more like you and get rid of this damn W.W.T.M.D. imaginary bracelet….
P.S. Nice pic of Tim, huh? I swiped it from an article Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl wrote long ago for Minnesota Monthly, which I stumbled upon today while searching for a pic. Apparently we’re both fan girls, so if you’d like to read her take on Tim, click HERE.