Chefs & Gratitude: Thank God It’s Friendship

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2010 has been a rocky year for everyone, except, of course, the San Francisco Giants! The economy was challenged, the Democrats lost some power, and for those of us in California, we had no summer weather. For me, 2010 is particularly tough, with the death of my Dad and my best friend and brother, Ricky Freeman (I love you).

After a year like this, you realize everything that you’re thankful for. For me, it is my close friends and all those who have inspired me and helped form my career, specifically my mentors, Faith Stewart-Gordon (The Russian Team Room), Niki Leondakis (Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants), Joe Baum (Restaurant Visionary and Legend) and my college professor Tom Veenendall, who helped me discover who I was in my career and in life.

The restaurant business, like life, is full of ups and downs. It has been a tough year for the industry to thrive and to survive. Chefs and restaurateurs are putting themselves on the line every day, being evaluated and judged by their guests, and working hard to make a profit in tough times. For perspective, I asked four chefs what they are thankful for this year:

Michelin-starred Chef Dominique Crenn, opening the new Atelier Crenn in San Francisco this January, was thankful for the sun. “It makes the vegetables and plants grow and people smile.”

Hoss Zaréfrom Zaré at Fly Trap, also in San Francisco,was most thankful to be surrounded by amazing friends, family and their unconditional love. (I am very thankful that Hoss survived his heart attack and is on the road to a great recovery.)

Veronica Laramie, who co-owns eVe restaurant in Berkeley, said she is most thankful for “being together with [her]wonderful husband, [their]health, and for living in a community that has welcomed and supported eVe restaurant.”

Keith Kornfeld, the chef at Pranna in New York and a survivor of the tragic Tsunami in 2004, is thankful for“simply, another day of life. Another day provides me the powerful gift to share, give, care, love, cook, cry and, most of all, laugh. When people ask me, ‘How are you?’ I state, ‘Great, I woke up this morning.’”

Thank you, everyone, for sharing your compassion. Every day, from coast to coast, we get to eat in the amazing restaurants this country has to offer. We must be thankful that we can afford to do so, thankful that we have friends and family to share the experiences with, and, of course, thankful that we have so many chefs, cooks and frontline people in restaurants devoted to feeding and taking care of us.

I’d like to thank the legendary Denny Terio, the host of Dance Fever, who ignited my passion to become a disco dancer extraordinaire. I have lived with Boogie Fever since I was 18 and am proud of my condition. Sometimes you have to be thankful just to be alive and have fun!

About The Author

Prior to opening Andrew Freeman & Co., a full service boutique consulting agency specializing in hospitality and restaurants in 2007, Andrew started his career working with several legendary New York venues including The Rainbow Room, The Russian Tea Room and Windows on The World. In addition to running the day to day marketing/public relations activities at these famed New York restaurants, Andrew was also responsible for the creation and management of their special events and catering departments. At all three venues, he also launched and then oversaw successful outside catering businesses. Andrew left New York in 1997 and departed for San Francisco to join Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. He spent ten years with Kimpton, launching over 40 hotels and restaurants as well as the global brand. For his first five years with the company, Andrew was first Director and then Vice President of Restaurant Sales and Marketing. In this role, he worked with the restaurant team on the creation, launch activities and marketing/public relations programs for the group’s chef driven restaurant concepts and private dining venues. He was then promoted to Vice President of Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships for both the hotel and restaurant divisions. In this role, Andrew was responsible for strategic development and execution of all public and media relations activities. During his tenure Andrew also spearheaded several programs with industry and community partners including Kimpton Cares, a social responsibility program and Kimpton Hotels LGBT travel program which has garnered numerous awards and positioned Kimpton as one of the Top Companies for LGBT employment. Andrew also contributed to the launch of Kimpton’s highly successful Women in Touch program which became the spring-board for their national partnership with Dress for Success, an organization which helps low-income women enter the workforce and excel in their new jobs. Today, Andrew Freeman & Co. is busy consulting hotel clients, Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, The Lodge at Sonoma, The River Terrace Inn, and Bay Area restaurant clients, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Barbacco, Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, étoile at Domaine Chandon, ETO, Fifth Floor, Grand Café and Poggio. Andrew Freeman & Co. is also proud to be an intricate part of SF.Chefs.Food.Wine a food and wine event that celebrates the unique flavor, diversity and bounty of Northern California. The annual event incorporates tasting tents, classes, seminars and an array of activities while supporting local charities such as the San Francisco Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, The Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Foundation and Project Open Hand. Andrew is honored to have also worked with JW Marriott/Marriott, Larkspur Hotels, Magnolia Bakery, Personality Hotels, the Palm Restaurant Group, and W Hotels. In 2009, Andrew Freeman & Co. launched a New York City office and is proudly serving clients including Pranna, Incentient and David Burke Restaurant Group. Andrew also works with a variety of clients on sales and service training, as well as concept development and operations refinement.

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