The first passage in the book Humanity: A Primer. I just made that title up; don’t search for it. Unless there really is a book called that, in which case my apologies. But saying “thank you” (in my way of thinking), is a minimum for membership into the human race.
Dankie, Faleminderit, Shukran, Chnorakaloutioun, Hvala, Blagodaria, Gracise, Dekuji, Tak, Dank u, Tanan, Kiitos, Merci, Danke, Mahalo, Todah, Shukriya, Takk, Grazie, Arigato, Paldies, Choukrane, Grazzi, Dziekuje, Dakujem, Tack, Nandri, Gracias, or a Dank.
All the same, no matter what language you use.
My momma used to say it doesn’t cost anything to be clean or polite. Or to offer thanks.
With so much to be grateful for in my life I have used it a lot. I mean it when I say it, so maybe I haven’t used it as often as I should have; I honestly don’t know.
This is a great story about this little 3-star French kitchen I was running in Northwest Ohio.
We were putting out award-winning French cuisine with favorable reviews and some national press. One afternoon we hosted a Lingerie Show with the local press and television stations covering the affair. The owner was all aglow and in her glory as the centerpiece of the whole shebang. The restaurant was jam packed with all the beautiful people.
I pulled out all the stops for the food:
Alligator strips with Tequila Salsa
Warm Salmon Mousse w/Beurre Blanc and Caviar
Cassoulet du Lapin w/Havarti Croutons
Boeuf us Fromage w/Gorgonzola and White Asparagus Spears
Jumbo Prawns on Squid-ink Linguine drizzled with Lobster Butter
Braided Atlantic Swordfish and Norwegian Salmon with Two Butters
Lafayette Seafood Gumbo
Pommes St. Anne
Coquilles St. Jacques
Jumbo Scallops En Croute with White Truffles and Golden Iranian Caviar
Farm-raised Maui Abalone steaks with Lemon Mousseline
Of course there were sorbets of various flavors served between the courses.
For dessert, I offered a Dark Chocolate dipped Poach Pear with Raspberry Sauce, Baked Alaska or several different Napoleons.
My staff worked their asses off for this event and I rode them hard. I was right there with them fighting the fight, but I was a bit more exacting in the presence of all the cameras and interviews being requested of me.
When the lights were lowered and the Grand Marnier puddles around the Baked Alaska flambeed, the applause erupted and the night was cemented a success.
According to the owner, who was a real stickler for classy and decorous, it was a perfect night.
As the dessert course was completed and the final coffees and liqueurs delivered and consumed, I was asked to “dress” for a final victory lap for the front of the house. This meant wearing my custom chef coat with my French affiliations and medals won. My working coat was not very presentable after a day like this one.
I was feeling pretty cocky and this did nothing to dampen in the least, my out of control ego, but as I headed out through the kitchen doors I made a decision that still makes me smile.
I turned to the three kitchen workers working for me. Pedro, Guillermo, and Raphael. These were the hardest workers of the whole bunch of us and we kept them crushed all day and night for this special affair. They looked like shit. Their clothes were all wet, stained, and disheveled. They smelled to high heaven.
I pulled the guys aside and put my Spanish to work.
I entered the dining room to another round of boisterous applause, and of course, I feigned humility.
I turned to the kitchen doors and waved my team of cooks and prep cooks, all of them looking a little roughed up, but very presentable.
The owner’s smile couldn’t be bigger as the cameras flashed.
Then, I extended my arm and waved in my kitchen crew so the trio could get their well-deserved round of applause.
The owner was horrified. She was not smiling.
But I bet somewhere my Mom was.