The leash is off. This happened before when I moved from New Orleans to Miami. Now, it's happening again. It's always a good thing, but there is always a delayed reaction when the leash comes off. At least... that's my theory. When a dog spends most of his life on a short leash, he learns how far he can go before he is choked. When the leash is removed, there is a moment of adjustment when he continues to stop at the choke point... then he slowly feels his new 'freedom' and slowly explores his extended world.
So that's where we are. We have been Sonesta-free for 3 months now. We have a new F&B director. Things are evolving. Battles we fought so hard for in the past are now non-existent. It's hard to get used to. In the past, we had a box put over us that only allowed us to change things within limited space. Changing a menu was never real change. There were items that could not be removed. Claustrophobic parameters that could not be pushed away. How could change ever be real in that environment? Now, finally... it is.
How are we exploring now that the leash is removed? We're currently in the middle of rewriting the restaurant dinner menu. The slate was wiped clean which is allowing us to follow a completely different format. It's strange to take that step forward without feeling the choke-chain squeezing your throat. One step forward... ok, I can still breathe. Let's check things out and move ahead a little more. What's next?
Our plan as of now is to get the menu in place within a few weeks. Certain systems of coordination must still be obeyed (ok, there's no leash, but there's still a fence around the yard). Menu item changes must be congruent with mise en place for other outlets. It's moving along though. We're happy with what's on paper... time to breathe life into it.
What else? Dinner menu changes will trickle out into lunch menu changes and room service and so forth. There's no corporate office to delay the process or veto our progress. There have been certain directions that we have wanted to run in for a long time. Now, we can.
The baby of these changes will be a new restaurant... one within our existing restaurant. We are going to follow the template laid before by chefs like Kevin Sousa. Our new restaurant will have it's own name while existing within our current restaurant. It will (in the beginning) be open for one day a week, and a set time, for a very limited number of seats. It's basically a chef's table. 10 to 12 guests will experience a tasting menu of set courses with special attention from our service staff. We're going to use this outlet as a limited-risk run of our concepts. We all have grand ideas as chefs and although we love to play, executing perfect dishes that are both primally satisfying and erudite consistently on a scheduled basis is not that easy. It can be down right frustrating at times. This new forum will be our opportunity to learn consistency. The template also lets the demand dictate the growth. As we get better at it, and people find out about it, we can let this thing get as big as it can get... but first we need to give it birth.
Our new restaurant will also have a large impact on Chadzilla as the blog will become more consistent and not irratic with leisure-time experimentation. Things will follow a more scheduled format. Feedback will be real and immediate. Ideas will become more than just ideas... they will live. Once again, I find myself at a new plateau of excitement as a chef. It's an appreciated blessing.