Oysters for Dan

As many of you know, I’ve been working in the kitchen at Dick & Jenny’s for the past several months while TBK and I get reorganized. I’m taking a break for family reasons these days (my mother is seriously ill in Dallas), but I miss the Being There and the adrenaline rush and all that comes with working at a busy and successful restaurant in a vibrant food city. I have worked in a series of restaurants in my life, but none have been staffed with folks as cooperative, helpful and committed to the Common Good of making things work. I’m not spamming for the place, really — I have a point. Bear with me.

One of the dishes calls for some fried oysters on the side. The man in charge of this dish is Dan, who is the souschef. No matter what else is going on in the maxed-out, superfast environment of the jammed kitchen, we have to make sure these oysters are available. No matter what our other job(s) or station(s), they have to be there.

…and so they are. The dessert guy, the pantry guy, the Chef du Cuisine, the owners — we all contribute to the effort by doing and knowing each other’s jobs. If the dessert guy is swamped, the pantry guy pitches in. And vice-versa. The top chef grunts out trash and the dishwashing guy contributes to the final product on the plate. It’s group effort on steriods — and the end product is something all of us have a share in. When a happy customer sends congratulations (or, in one recent case, a $100 tip), we all share in it.

I will not apologize for being a Pollyanna. I spent over 30 years, in the world of professional journalism, being a well-paid curmudgeon and cynic. It was my job and, frightfully, my acquired personality.

I have chosen not to do that anymore. I much prefer the daily, quiet and cooperative truth of doing oysters for Dan.

I just wish, in the city of New Orleans these days, there was more of the same spirit as there is in this kitchen. It ain’t difficult, if we put a little pride to the side.

11 Comments so far

  1. rickngentilly (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 11:18 pm

    when you find a kitchen krewe that works like that it’s prettier than any ballet. it will take you to skill levels you never thought you had. i dont blame you for being in love with that gig. i totally get it.

  2. Paul Murphy (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 11:19 pm


  3. The Attorney (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 2:33 pm

    So Dick and Jenny left for Virginia. Is the food still good? What should I order that will make me cry?

  4. Craig (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

    Besides their presence, you will find the place (and the food quality) unchanged. The rest of the staff is the same.

  5. Paul p (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 5:08 pm

    I dance to ballet everyday in my kitchen. I am the line cook,the head chef, the dishwasher, and I would be the pantry guy if I had one. Anyone want to work for no pay? So I guess I am like the guy doing the twist by himself in the corner. It’s funny that Rickngentilly mentioned the word Krewe. We have a sandwich called “the Krewe”.

  6. termite (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

    hmmmm…let’s try to figure this out…

    it’s on Magazine
    it’s small
    and has a sandwich named ‘the krewe’

    mmm..need more hints.

    craig, this past june (at dick & jenny’s) i had the green-gazpacho. best thing i’ve ever put in my mouth.
    and yes, i licked the bowl when my date wasn’t looking. hehe ;D

  7. Paul p (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

    Not on Magazine. Did I write that it was on Magazine? I don’t know why I would. I ‘ll give you another hint. The location in the bio may not be correct. We are now located in the Greater New Orleans area. But where?

  8. termite (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

    hmm.. thought you did. sorry, my bad. ;p

    oh, and thanks paul, “We are now located in the Greater New Orleans area”, well now, that narrows it down for me. Grrr…….

    termite’s have very very small brains.

    need more hints. :/

  9. Mike (unregistered) on December 1st, 2006 @ 9:26 am

    Great post Craig, I can relate so well, hang with it my friend.

    Hey cute-stuff, I will be more than happy to accompany you in your quest for Paul’s mystery location! (haven’t seen you at Port of Call in a while, wuz up??)

    Best regards to all, Mike T.

  10. Heather (unregistered) on December 1st, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

    I strongly support your efforts to make great fried oysters at one of our city’s great restaurants!

  11. Ty (unregistered) on December 1st, 2006 @ 11:09 pm

    If you read Craigs posts on a regular basis, I was one of the people from Tucson that visited recently and had the opportunity to eat at Dick & Jenny’s while we were there (as did the entire group that came with us). Everyone raved about the food when we finished eating (and for a couple of weeks thereafter; my friends still talk about the wonderful food we had).

    I believe that no matter what “The Attorney” would order that person would find any dish on the menu excellent; from the appetizers all the way to the desserts.

    I think that the food we all enjoyed at Dick & Jenny’s could only be made by people that enjoy food themselves and get the satisfaction of preparing food that other’s get to enjoy on a daily basis. No matter who run’s a place (what’s in a name anyways; for all I care they could call the place Dan’s Oyster Hut) good food is good food.

    To Craig and the entire staff and Dick & Jenny’s (or whatever you may call it) keep up the good work.

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