It was the first restaurant in New York I actually had a job, after moving from San Francisco on the strength of a single meeting and a phone call. Not a boy, but a restaurant, where there was, in fact, no job waiting for me. Shell shocked, I sat in my friend's bathtub in a converted warehouse in Brooklyn, smoked some cigarettes, and then got up and went to see the New York friends of my San Francisco friends. Drew hired me, and since I'd sublet my SF apartment and couldn't run home, I stayed.
The first day at Montrachet, the purchaser asked me to help him check in a produce delivery, and I asked him if he wanted to send it all back. He looked at me like I was crazy - this was what produce was in the bad old 80's, in New York City - strawberries with white shoulders like a debutante at her first formal dinner, bushels of green beans fine at first blush, but secretly starting to shrivel and rot, waiting to slime an unsuspecting hand reaching in.
I worked on the floor as well as in the kitchen (money, baby) , and was baffled by how quickly these people melted for a smile from their lowly bus-girl, especially the couples so clearly out on a big important date. The California in me was still right at the surface and I couldn't help it. Everyone was so...worried or something. Even the clearly fabulous and famous people streaming through the doors were wary, tense. All they wanted was someone to be a little kind, a little gentle.
It's been a lot of years, and honestly I haven't thought about eating at Montrachet since the 80's, but it's a little sad to think of it gone. The other primal restaurant of my new New York life Florent is closing, or maybe even closed already. Open cook's hours, with blood sausage (I think John Clark did the recipe there?) and poached eggs, and the club kids I was used to eating with in the middle of the night.
Little by little we fade away, the chef me and the restaurants where I was that person.