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!