Being a Michelin-starred chef requires details like you can’t believe. How about breaking down a complete steer and have less than 10% waste when you are done?
How about planning out a wedding for two-hundred guests?
How about executing a champagne brunch for 500?
I really enjoyed planning weddings because our clientele never seemed to make cost a priority.
Some people are big-picture thinkers.
I am not.
I get all-consumed in the here and now, and I have done quite well doing so, thank you very much.
When catering, I had plans A, B, and C to address probable scenarios as they arise. The logistics with the food and drink were clockwork, but an outdoor event is always subject to the whims of Mother Nature.
Check out this story that deals with details:
I wanted to interview Thomas Coley ever since I first heard of his amazing story. My editor was a little less enthusiastic, but had agreed to let me do it for a piece in the “People in the News” segment which ran weekly in our newspaper. So I grabbed my recorder, a small pocket-sized model with the little three-inch cassettes my mother had given me on the day I got my job here. For her, this was the culmination and payoff for the meager seven years of college I spent to get my journalism degree, and she was bursting with questions when I told her of my impending meeting the next day with Thomas.
“What is the first question you are going to ask?” she bubbled.
I thought for a second and kept reminding myself don’t forget the little things. The big picture stuff will take care of itself.
“Well. I thought I’d start with….”
She didn’t wait for the reply, obviously star struck at her daughter meeting, interviewing, and writing a story on a real honest-to-goodness celebrity.
“He is drop-dead gorgeous! She exclaimed. That is one fine-looking man,” she added.
“Mom, you have to remember”… I tried to inject, but she was having none of it. She was already on the phone with her best friend and bridge partner Marge detailing my assignment including (for the third time) the phrase “drop-dead gorgeous.” I took one last swig of my Venti Latte with an extra shot of expresso and headed out for Marion. Just west of Marion was Carbondale, home of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, and beautiful Crab Orchard Lake. I made a mental note to stop by there for a picnic lunch when I finished my interview.
Five hours later, I arrived in Marion, stopping at a Mom and Pop burger joint to grab a snack which included a delicious vanilla shake to help quell the nervous stomach I had developed. I guess I was star-struck or nervous after all, I admitted to myself. I finished in a hurry and closed the door with the rusty little bell jingling behind me as I exited.
So there we sat, the cub reporter and the movie star looking across the table at each other in silence. As much as it hurt to admit it, my mother was right. He was drop-dead gorgeous. But as I began, what really struck me was how genuinely nice he was. Down-to-earth and approachable, with a square jaw and perfect white teeth. His blue eyes penetrated the very core of my soul.
“Tell me something most people would never know about you, I began. What was your childhood like? Were you happy growing up?” People loved this human interest stuff. Journalism 101. Get the subject talking about themselves and then hit them with the big questions.
Don’t forget the little things.
He showed no signs of being uncomfortable with my first salvo of questions and slowly began speaking. Perfect diction, perfect delivery, and of course, perfect white teeth.
“My parents provided me with every opportunity to succeed, he began. My childhood was a very happy, loving time, so no headline-grabbing revelations available there,” he offered almost apologetically. “My two elder siblings were somewhat over-protective of me so I led quite the sheltered existence,” he recounted wistfully. “I always had a pet when I was growing up, a fish, a bird, I didn’t quite care what, but I was always surrounded by animals so I grew up protecting them. That is why…”
“You give so much of your time and money to different animal charities and organizations,” I finished his sentence.
“You’ve done your homework,” he complimented. He expounded “that is also why I ONLY give my time and money to animal organizations.”
My raised eyebrow must have belied my relaxed posture, so Thomas felt the need to continue. “Let me ask you something,” he began. “Have you ever had a dog tell you a lie? Have you ever had a cat try to steal your money at gunpoint? Has a bird ever broken into your house and stolen your stereo or television?”
“Neither have I,” he said before I could proffer an answer to any of his questions.
He went on about his happy childhood, his climb to film stardom, and I found myself both in awe and in love. I felt my cheeks flush. I gathered myself and started. I also realized my allotted time had come to an end. I blurted as he began to rise.
“Thomas, you are one of the most visible faces on the planet. Admired by men. Adored by women. Idolized by millions. Where do you go to escape it all?”
“Really?” he laughed. “Let me guess. First ever interview for you, right?”
Now I was blushing crimson.
“Well, you might have taken into consideration the fact that you are conducting this interview in a federal maximum security prison and that I am shackled by the legs and handcuffed to this chair. Or the fact that I disemboweled six people and eagerly ate their intestines.”
“You know, little things like that.”