My friends tease me when I talk about my time as a waiter at Murphy's in Atlanta ("You barely lasted a week," they say. Not true! I lasted 3 weeks!) but I recall quite vividly a phrase that I learned on the job, something that my table-waiting mentor Sage taught me the first day: "In the weeds."
"If you've got too much going on and more tables and orders than you can handle, tell someone you're 'in the weeds,'" she said.
Luckily, as a waiter, that never really became an issue; but today, as a food writer, I'm starting to feel those weeds creep up around me.
Here's the thing: for this cookbook I'm writing for Artisan, I owe half the book October 15th (the other half I owe April 15th). That means on October 15th I have to submit 25 essays about the chefs I've cooked with so far (some pretty amazing chefs, if I do say so myself) and, more importantly, 75 recipes.
You may think: "Well, if you cooked with 25 chefs and they taught you the recipes, then that's not that much work, right?"
It's one thing to learn a recipe taking notes standing next to a chef in their kitchen, it's a totally different thing to make it yourself at home. For starters, restaurant chefs have better tools than home cooks (Can I borrow someone's industrial strength juicer?). They also have a team of helpers to clean up after them, so a dish that uses five pots and six whisks and seven spoons to plate becomes a nightmare when you have to wash all those things later yourself. And, more, importantly: steps that the chef glossed over in teaching you the dish become the steps that throw the whole thing out of whack when you attempt them yourself.
Which is all to say, this week I officially embarked on the recipe-testing phase of the book: on Monday I made three different dishes and last night I made three different dishes and I'll keep making three different dishes a night until the recipes are all tested, tweaked and perfected for the home cook.
And because of that, and because I'll also be editing and fine-tuning those 25 chef essays (not to mention booking more chefs to cook with), I'll barely have time to update my blog (though I still plan to update the blog) let alone write this newsletter. Thus this message is a temporary farewell of sorts; the beginning of a brief newsletter hiatus that'll probably last through October.
I hope you can bear one less message in your mailboxes Monday mornings--I know I can!--and that, one day, when this book comes out you'll buy it and appreciate all the hard work that went into it.
Thanks for your understanding and your help keeping me out of those weeds. As we former waiters know, that's not a happy place to be.
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)
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