My Beautiful Daughter.


Us on her 21st birthday celebrating on the Deck at Babette’s Cafe. Of course.

The first time I brought my daughter to the restaurant she was in a car carrier and I placed her into a steam well in the kitchen while I prepped. She was three weeks old. She slept and I was euphoric that I could roll out pastry dough, bake tarts, cut meat and put soup on the stove. I can’t remember how long it lasted that afternoon, but I don’t remember doing it again.

Over the years she has washed dishes: only once and was a bit overwhelmed, young and couldn’t do it physically.

She has bussed tables which she used to hate. She cried when she dropped a tray of wine glasses. I won’t lie, I cried a little too. But then I showed her how to carry ten in one hand and one more in the other. No tray. Much easier. She whined about all the stairs that need to be climbed to do set ups and bring everything to the floor. 

She has hosted and complained about the waiters hassling her about not getting enough covers and was frustrated by the computer system.

She has run food for banquets and pointed out every spot on every dish.

She has never worked in the kitchen, which I can’t understand. When she was a teenager she hated the thought of putting her hair up into a baseball cap and wearing an unflattering kitchen apron. Both of which I particularly love about working in the kitchen.

But she wanted to wait tables. All this bitching made me reluctant to put her on the floor as a server. I reasoned, I didn’t need this! But then I did. I was caught short without a server last summer and we gave it a try. It takes several weeks to find a great server so I put her on until I could hire one and she would go back to college.  Lo and behold she got it. She did OK.

I went through the menu and ingredients and special orders while we were together one afternoon for a car drive and it stuck. She knew all about Babette’s and me, of course, and the my longtime servers backed her up. The guests who remembered her growing up and hadn’t known about all the bitching thought she was cute (she is) and it was great that she was working there (it really was). She made a gross amount of money. Turns out there was no complaining about that!

The last time I brought her to the restaurant was this New Year’s Eve. She was supposed to be a “floater,” helping both the host and the busser. The busser was sick so she was on her own. Maybe it was because her teenage years were behind her now – we’re all happy to say – she just buckled down and did the job. She could hardly walk the next day because her legs were so sore, but she gets it. She respects the enormous physical strength it takes to do any of the jobs in the restaurant. She realizes the importance of each person and how the team needs to work together. She knows not to bother me with little stuff. She loves our guests.

It’s a good thing because she’s on call for Valentine’s weekend!

Being the owner. The real perk.

Twenty eight years ago, while in culinary school, I swore I would never open my own restaurant.  This was at the conclusion of the class in which you designed your own restaurant; from the menu, scheduling, dining room design to the profit and loss.  No way I said.  Too much work.

Well, a mere nine years later, I did indeed open Babette’s.  I had reached the “glass ceiling” and found that I could not advance by working for someone else.  It’s still a pain in the ass.  I don’t make as much money as people think, though I must admit, there have been some stellar years.  I am constantly working on sales, marketing, plumbing, menu, scheduling, and that dreaded profit and loss.  I have yet to be able to take three whole weeks off to tour Europe.  Sometimes I’m here everyday.

But there is one thing that makes it all worthwhile and that is freedom.

Today I went to the Apple store and replaced my husband’s I phone because he refuses to go to a place where you have to make an appointment to buy something.  I find it quite convenient.  (I was pissed the first time though).  I went into work a little late.

Then I left at 2:30 to take my daughter to a doctor because she has been struggling with torn ligaments in her ankle since July.  I wanted to speak with the doctor about the results of her last procedure.  I dropped her at home and came back in to work.

This may seem minor, but for those of you who punch other people’s time clocks, you know how frustrating it is to not be able to get little things done.  I have to schedule this flexibility and there are times when my daughter could have used me at home and I didn’t feel I could go.  But when push comes to shove, I call someone in and I go.  It’s my payroll.

So that’s it.  That’s why I do it.

Cooking for the family

On one of my recent vacations I headed out of town with a girlfriend and we discussed cooking.  Can you imagine?  But it wasn’t about Berkshire Pork or Maple Leaf Duck or Summerland Farms produce.  It was about how to keep corn dogs out of my freezer at home.  My husband buys them and my daughter loves them, but they are gross.  I threw the last box away that they brought home.

So here we are with the cobbler’s kid not having new shoes. I am figuring out how to prepare meals in advance for my family to pop in the oven or on the grill when I’m at work.  I kind of resent having to do this since my husband is semi-retired but he hates planning meals too.  My fourteen year old daughter resents having to pull something together.  It is a very big issue in our family.  We don’t have the big meals sitting down together, talking about the day’s events, bonding and crap that everyone tells us to do, but they sure are happy when I have something for them.

So my girlfriend gave me a book about  freezer cooking.  The recipes are terrible, but it’s giving me some ideas.  Mondays are my shopping days and Tuesdays are for cooking.  We’ll see.

Posted at 03:55 PM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Lettuce Anyone?

I sent my husband to the store the other day and all I asked him to bring me was lettuce.  He came back with a head of iceberg.  I haven’t made an iceberg salad in 18 years.  I was instructed to be a little more specific next time.


Even Chefs have Kids

Yesterday my lovely 12 year old was trying to squeeze into last year’s jeans which she had worn the day before without my knowing.
Me:”Why aren’t you wearing the ones I just bought you?”
12 year old:”Because they are too baggy in the butt and ride too high, like grandma’s jeans.”
Me: “But I asked you in the store if they were too baggy  and you said no and you promised to wear them.”
12 year old:  “Well, I know, but I can’t wear them and I don’t have anything else to wear.
Me:  “Wear a skirt.”
12 year old:  ” I have PE today and can’t.”
Me:  “Wear your sweats.”
12 year old:  “I don’t have anything that goes with them.”
Me:  “You have more clothes than me.  Find something.  If you try to wear those old jeans, I will cut them up with scissors.”
12 year old:  “You can’t do that.”  < crying, whining, crying>  “Your the worst mother ever!”
Me:  “I can’t stand listening to this.  I’m getting in my car in my pajamas and driving around until you get on the bus.”
12 year old:  <crying, whining, crying>
I get in my car.  Take my wallet and my cigarettes and drive around the block until I realize that this is crazy and my 12 year old has run me out of my own home.  I go back to the house.
12 year old:  <STILL crying, whining and crying>
I walk into her room, grab a pair of scissors and cut the old jeans down the front.  Go into my bedroom and close the door.
12 year old:  “I hate you.  I can sew those up you know!”
Me:  “Yeah right.”
10 hours later my 12 year old calls me at work.
12 year old: “those new jeans are just awful.  They came over my belly button.”
Me:  “You never tuck your shirt in anyway, who knows?”
12 year old:  “I do.”  <crying, whining, crying>  “When are you coming home?”
Me:  “Never!”

Kid’s go Back to school

Drove down to Santa Rosa Beach, FL for 1 and 1/2 days to pick my daughter up from visiting a friend.  Beach was lovely, drive not bad with a book on tape and a Sunday away from the restaurant, priceless.

That leaves one week for school supply shopping, clothes, registration for jazz and ballet classes, and a couple of days at the pool.

Back to school is a great thing for most parents and for me it’s a real breather.  It’s a little tough not seeing my daughter as much during the school year, but now she has plenty of homework and after school activities to keep her very busy.  She doesn’t bother me with the words, “I’m bored”.  When I want to flake out on Saturday morning, she does too.