It's been a long hard season and it finally starting to wind down. Don't get me wrong, Oct. is still busy but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. We're actually getting not one, but two days off next week, our first since the very beginning of Sept. The nights are cool, the mornings are crisp and diverse varieties of apples are starting to appear in the market. We're heading toward an evaluation point where we have to look at back at the past year and decide what went right and what went wrong and what we want to change for the new year. That's still a ways off although there are definitely things that I've taken or re-taken to heart this past season.
It's not always about us. Although we are the chefs, there are so many things going on in the dining rooms and in people's lives that their reactions to the food may have nothing to do with what's on the plate in front of them. A mind boggling number of people, in spite of being told about the set menus and asked about food allergies and preferences before their arrival, show up with a laundry list of things that they can and cannot eat. This is usually mentioned at their first meal which tends to be full of items which are taboo for one reason or another. A very small percentage of people actually share their needs with us and we are truly grateful for that. Over the course of a season the surprise last minute scrambling is enough to drive an entire staff to distraction. We try to stay focused on the fact that it's not about us, it's about them. But there are times when it really does feel as though it's about us and not in a good way.
The show must go on. We all grew up hearing that phrase but in the service industry it's very true. When people can't come to work, housekeepers call in with sick cars or lost dogs, guides are stretched thin and unavailable to lead guests around the property, pipes break and water alarms go off, there we are. Three meals a day are unavoidable and keep us tied to the place from before dawn until after dark. If other things are falling through the cracks we catch them and set them to rights. Part of our job is just being available so that when things go wrong, as they always do, there is always someone responsible and resourceful enough there to take care of it before any of our guests ever realize there was an issue.
Failure is not an option, a cliche but in our case absolutely true. People who are spending $900 a night should never know there are cracks or problems. Juggling should be done silently and with a smile. Most of our guests do know that Alex and I are always there with a ready ear and a helping hand. We bring coffee to them in the morning and explain the television remote controls to them at night. They often ask us when we get time off and we just smile and tell them that we're off when there are no guests, although that's not really true. It's an interesting system when your guests spontaneously offer to have dinner early so that you can go home. It's a very generous thing for them to do, but I'm not sure that it's a good reflection on the services that we provide here.
Some days it seems as though cooking is the least of what we do here. It's a good learning experience because we'd like to have our own place one day. In a perfect world it will be along the water somewhere on the East Coast and we will specialize in cooking school getaways for 3-4 days, for professionals and home cooks. We will explore new ideas in food and beverages the same way that we do here, but in our own place according to our designs. The focus will be on cooking, dining and procuring ingredients. It will be a totally interactive kitchen setting where everyone is free to express and interpret their ideas. That's the architecture in the sky and we are salting away our experiences every day to help us make that reality.