Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Forking Heroes!

How many of us have dreams?  How many of us have ideas?  How many of us have tried and tried to make it happen until one day we took a look around us and realized that we weren’t having any fun trying any more?  Well I know a couple of ladies who have put the fun and inspiration back into dreams and ideas. 

Forking Fantastic hits the bookstores today people!  A heartfelt, finger-licking congrats to Tamara Reynolds and Zora O’Neill the authors of Forking Fantastic!

One of the things I absolutely loved (read: now miss dearly) about my few years living in the wild, wild west  was  that everyone had dinner parties.  Everyone has parties and they don’t take place at bars…well not always at least.  And people shop for and cook and bake…in their homes!  They bring cookies to work and talk about what they made for dinner over the weekend.  Everything’s easy breezy and all about good people chilling out over a glass of wine (or many bottles perhaps) and good times.  In that spirit my friends, here in New York, created  the now infamous “Sunday Night Dinners”  which was in its’ origins a simple gathering of fabulous friends and fabulous food…the almighty dinner party.  It slowly became known as a moveable feast, an underground restaurant of sorts, and just a plain ol’ wacky  good time…the location changed, the menu changed, the guestlist changed, but the ladies stayed true to one thing…fucking amazing food and fun!  Along the way they took pictures, they blogged about the mishaps and successes, they sent out invites with the menu that usually made you smile and always made you hungry, and they cooked…and apparently someone else (besides us) paid attention!  And now they have a book! 

Oh but this is, of course, the simplified version of the story.  The one fit for family story hour.  What some of us are priviledged to know is a little bit more of how they got here.  I don’t want to give too much away…we’ll  save that for their Vh-1 behind the story special in a few years…but what I will tell you is a lot about how awesome I think they are and a little about how magical life is.

See…one day I started working as a manager of this restaurant you may have heard of, The Tasting Room.  A, now sadly closed, restaurant in which the lives of all the employees who came and went will forever, sickly be intertwined due to our passion, loyalty, and integrity and absolute love we had for this place.  And one day, this lady…a lively, redheaded story teller was totally holding court at Family meal…telling a story and holding everyone captivated whether  they realized it or not, because she was so fucking loud.  You could actually hear her laugh from down the street…and I thought she was hilarious.  We kept eyeing each other in that way that two people realize they know each other from a previous life do.  Are you an actor?  Are you a singer?  Are you a dancer?  Where did you work before?  Oh, did you ever work here?  What about there?  No?  How about there?  And finally.  Finally…we tracked it back to almost 10 years earlier.  Was it really that long ago?  Maybe 9.  And we figured out that we worked with each other for about 2 months in a place that shall go nameless because the scars it left on us are already indelible and unforgettable enough (I will tell you that in the 90’s in NYC almost everybody spent time in this place and it was commonly referred to as BootCamp).  And we bonded over hideous memories of our past work experience.  The funny thing is that in the 10 years between we both traveled and moved and worked in a million different places to only land in the same place…working at a restaurant together with a ton of creative ideas and trying to see which one would stick.  She told me about her Sunday Night Dinners.  Often when we worked together, she would talk to me about the menu planning or some funny story about what happened at last week’s dinner. I talked to her about writing about food and wine.  I shared with her some of my ideas for stories and blogs.  She told me about some of her ideas for food shows and guidebooks.  But mostly, we told stories, we drank, and we laughed.  And then one day she quit.  She went to go be a wine buyer. She had a French speaking assistant, I’ll never forgive her for that!  We stayed in touch.  I went to Sunday night dinners.  The instructions are to bring the cash donation and a bottle of wine.  Marisa and I showed up with two brown grocery bags full of vino and we had already been drinking champagne all day…it wasn’t pretty but we had fun.  Then one day Tamara  came in to see us at The Tasting Room, in the afternoon before we were open and she walked into the office and announced she and Zora were getting their book deal.  “And now all we have to do is write it.”  And with that, I thought.  Life is great.  If you do something that is fun and inspiring people will enjoy it and if you do it your own unique way…there is always a story.  And I truly believe that in life my favorite people are the ones who always know that there is a story and they can’t wait to tell it to you.  And most importantly, they laugh at their own jokes!

So here’s to Zora and Tamara!  Here’s to ya’ll getting over to their website and/or amazon and purchasing the book right now.   And here’s to genius redheads stickin’ together!  And mostly, here’s to dreams and ideas!  

On another funny note:  the first restaurant that Tamara and I worked at many moons ago was also the place where the owner , knowing I was a writer, asked me if I wouldn’t like to have Ruth Reichl’s job one day and write about food and wine (Ruth was at the time the Ny times food critic and of course went on to write hilarious books and is the editor in chief at Gourmet).  I laughed.  See, at the time, I wrote “serious” drama.  I have since met Ruth and not only think she’s a genius and way cool but would fucking kill for her job.  How’s that for laughing at your own jokes?