“I stopped by the restaurant a couple of days ago, and it’s almost ready for us to get in and work there. You couldn’t really see any progress before, but now every day it’s noticeable. The ceilings are going up today, and they’ve framed my kitchen out. It’s really something to feel the dimensions of that space. You can actually stand in that room and feel what the size is. It’s larger than I thought but will probably look a lot smaller once the equipment is in there. In the front of the house, the wooden floors are going down in the next couple of days. I want them to look more weathered before we polish them, though, so I’m thinking about dragging things over them, making little burn marks. Maybe we’ll get fifteen girls in stilettos to dance around; it needs some character. But mainly I’m looking forward to getting into that kitchen. We need to start organizing, get stock into dry storage, get the gas turned on, and then start cooking some food. It’s nice when you can start storing consommés or lemon confit or pickled ramps. That just wasn’t something we had the luxury of doing in the test kitchen. There’s only so much you can order from FreshDirect.
We’re also trying to get everything lined up with our specialty purveyors, like S.O.S. and Trufette on Avenue B. They’ve got incredible stuff there: They sell me all my vanilla beans, my fresh licorice sticks, the really nice green Iranian pistachios. If you’re in the restaurant business, these are people you absolutely need. It’s not cheap — the pistachios are $60 for 2.2 pounds. But if you were to purée them, you could probably mix in some ordinary pistachios and still keep that beautiful color. Some chefs freak out over stuff like that, but if we used all high-end ingredients, we either couldn’t keep our price point down or would take a bath on the costs.
I leave the day after tomorrow for Florida to get some quality time with my parents, because I won’t be seeing much of them. I expect to be working fifteen hours a day seven days a week for the first month or two.”