I’ve run four different, four star restaurants in Atlanta. And it’s honest to say that Eli was responsible for a handful of those stars. He was the text book definition of a great sous-chef. “Yes chef, right away chef,” no matter what. He physically, sleeps, breathes, and, of course, eats his craft. He’s a huge fan of our industry. You should see the library in his room, where both of us recently dorked out for an hour at his July 4th BBQ.
When he went to his casting interview, I remember him asking how he should be, how he should act? And I told him to be that guy in the walk-in, where we usually held our business meetings. The guy that could filet fish, recite the meat inventory, talk shit about the schwag meal he had at a competitor’s restaurant, all the while promoting the next hot, contemporary restaurant in Copenhagen.
Once, the young kid who was the first to be cut, figuratively and literally, quickly became the chef who had to be there for my kitchen to operate efficiently.
And this will piss off some of my current chefs, but since he’s stepped out on his own, I miss him.
While he was filming in Vegas, I tried to get any information about his progress. Weeks went by. Then more weeks. As his anticipated return date neared and I hadn’t heard from him, I knew he was doing well, and close to the finals. In true Jedi fashion, I felt my padawan becoming more powerful than me.
Then around 3 a.m. one morning a few months ago I got a text message from him.
Yes chef, you made me very proud.