He doesn't hide anymore. He used to. But not since emerging from that depression.

It was about three years ago when I started working here, and I didn't notice anything off until about a couple of months of working with him in the Office. A vendor would drop in for a visit, and he'd send me in his stead. Customers would come in, asking a question about a specific dish, and he'd send me, or just tell the waitperson the answer.

Constantly hiding, cringing away from outside contact. It was a scary time. The change didn't really hit home until yesterday, when a customer recognised us both, and waved hello. Ordinarily, he'd wave back, and beat a hasty retreat to the basement. Yesterday, he stopped, and chatted with her for a few minutes, and then and only then, came back to the Office.

The other day, I was making a soup or stew or something or another, and the accounting people were on the phone, responding to an email I'd sent. Again, in the past, he'd have me answer the call, talk to them, and then tell him what they told me. Then, he'd think it over, come up with new questions, and have me start the whole process from the start. I said, "Just take the call, please. This is going to burn if I walk away." He did, and about half an hour later, he relayed what they'd talked about. Thank goodness he did take that call, because he brought up so many more points than I'd have known to ask, and had a very productive time of it.

Either way, it's like he's emerged from his cocoon of self-imposed exile, and it's very nice to see. Because now that he's not hiding anymore, he's also reaching out to people who drive him forward. He reconnected with an old customer, Elke, who was the force behind the repainting project. She's such a dynamic person. In a couple of hours, she can manage the job of three people.

And because he's now reaching out to more people, he's also searching, exploring, and finding all sorts of new and delicious foods to make. We've been stretching our creative boundaries, and it shows. Gone are the staid, the obvious, and the tried-and-true. He managed to create a gluten free, sugar free, soy free burger sandwich. I don't even know where he got the idea, but there it was, and it flew off the shelves. He made a gluten free quiche. And we don't have all those fancy flours (sorghum, or millet, or quinoa) and binders (xanthan gum) lying around. And yet it was divinely delicious.

Now that he's reaching out, others are reaching in, and the combination is wonderful for all of us.


Gluten Free Quiche

Yes, we managed it. I kvetched and I complained, and I badgered relentlessly.

"We keep doing Entree specials with gluten. It's not right!" With all the hundreds of gluten free recipes that man uses on a regular basis, it made absolutely no sense why a simple quiche crust should cripple his creativity. "OK, let me check the Google." He checks the google. Xanthan gum. Something about millet flour. What the heck is sorghum?

"Just make something up! You created a gluten free brownie. A gluten free truffle cake. Go pull something from your imagination. I know you can do this."

He grew thoughtful. "If I use that tart pan, and get some cornmeal ..."

"Yes! Use the tart pan. Get the cornmeal."

As we speak, said gluten free quiche is merrily baking away in the oven. There is absolutely no reason to think that you can't do something until you actually try. Then, if you fail, you analyse why you failed, and try again. Then once you succeed, you begin to fine-tune, and perfect. Once it's perfect, you make sure you can replicate your results, consistently. Then you try something new, and more exciting.

And never say "I can't."

Vegan Quiche

Vegan quiche at sacred chow.. This was incredible.


Never say you can't do something

He's not one to lecture. That's not his style. He prefers to remind gently, and let you do the math yourself. "Remeber when we first started out, Dino? How difficult it was, and being stretched in a hundred different directions? I'd ask you if you could do something, and you'd say 'I don't think I can do that'." I do. This morning was a prime example.

He'd made this list of products to give this guy who's finding us new wholesale accounts. He wanted me to reorder the list. I was whining, because the list wasn't automatically numbered, as would be the norm, but manually numbered. This makes it a pain in the behind to make any such thing happen. Also, Word has that charming habit of randomly flinging your text in random directions when you so much as sneeze at it.

I pouted, I whined, and I made it happen.

Funny how that works.

He's never let me think there's something I can't do. If I claim lack of expertise in the area, he tells me to go /acquire/ it. "Can't __________" is simply not an option. Not when there's so very much that needs to get done. This isn't denial of physical constraints. He never expects me to push myself to beyond what I can physically do in the time alloted. This is more about limitations I place on myself, for whatever reason.

Sure, it'd be easier to give things up as a lost cause, and just take it as it comes. But then, as I've told Preefer countless times, "What's the point of working at something if it's easy? Anything worthwhile takes effort, and time, and perfection." So there I was, using the auto-number feature, removing extraneous spaces, and sorting things out in the manner requested.

I guess I really can do it.




Boss man tends to agonise over them. He asks for the opinions of all the people he knows, then does nothing. Then he goes through a second, third, fourth, and thirtieth round. Then he still does nothing. Finally he'll be backed into a corner, throw up his hands, and do what he wanted to do in the first place. Before he has to let someone working at Chow know that it's just not working out, he gives them like fifty "last time" warnings. He'll put himself out, so that the customer isn't getting crap, while that person continues to deteriorate.

Then, looking back, he has no regrets. He might have doubts, but definitely not regrets.

I, on the other hand, tend to make snap decisions. I sat bolt upright in bed one night, while living in Florida, and said, "We're moving to New York." A month later, we did. If I've got it into my fool head that I want to do something, I go and do it. In the end, it works out, but in the long run, there are unforseen consequences to those actions that I have to face for not thinking things through enough.

Looking back, I have no regrets. I have annoyance at the consequences, but definitely not regrets.

What's the major difference between the two of us?

I have no responsibilities to others. He does. Between his son (huge huge monumental responsibility), his family, his business, the workers in his business, and himself (notice how I list him last? That's how parents think.), he's got a world of responsibility on his shoulders. I, on the other hand, am responsible for the well-being of myself and my husband (again, notice the order). Sure, I'll see to it that my husband is fed first, and I eat only when he's had his fill. Sure, I'll stay late at the office, until the work is done. I don't, however, lose sleep over whether or not my son is learning all he needs to learn at school. Whether my business is going to fly or flop. Whether I'll finally be able to take a pay cheque after all these years.

Boss Man is strong and confident, but when you've got all these lives that you're responsible for, how else can you behave, but to be cautious? I sometimes lose patience over my perception that Boss Man isn't making snap decisions fast enough, but if I pull back and look at the bigger picture, I realise that it's actually because he's thoughtful, and careful. When you've got a kid to raise, and people to pay, and everyone to take care of, suddenly the snap decisions turn into more like slow, plodding ones. If you didn't devote that much time and care to it, people's lives are at stake.

I'm reminded of my mother, who does the same thing. To make a decision, she takes a very long time. She'll ask everyone for their input, and just sit and think on it for a few weeks. When she's formulated a plan, she'll put it into action. Then, when all the pieces have fallen into place, she'll act decisively and quickly.

And looking back, none of us have had any regrets.


Catching up

Tomorrow, I'll be sending a stack of documents over to our new accountant. They work as a team, and keep everything electronically organised, and do /everything/ for us. And, they're happy to accept the documents via email, fax, or regular mail, or they'll send someone to pick up the stuff monthly, weekly, daily, what have you. In other words, slowly but surely, we're starting to get these things cleared up.

What does that mean? We can finally start drawing up a budget with which to repaint the restaurant, spruce it up a bit, and make it a comfortable place to come with large groups, small groups, or alone. And it only took three years.

I started working here in 2007. Things were pretty shaky. The books were messy, the menus were hideous (does anyone remember those awful spiral bound things? ew.), the website was an atrocity, and there was no system for getting things done. I'd come in to have food (before I worked here), and they'd be out of whatever it is I was wanting the most at that moment (generally, ginger soba noodles, soup, and a sinner bar to round things out). The service was okay, but not great. Food would take a fair bit of time to come up even when it wasn't crowded.

When I did fall into a manegerial role, I started with the easiest thing first: those menus. Once that was sorted, then I attacked the website. Then, I started in on making a catering menu. Piece by painful piece, boss man and I made things happen in such a manner that the kitchen is tight, service is outstanding, and we keep on each others case when we're slacking.

A prime example is when we're creating the daily specials. Preefer's so used to it by now. "Hey, how 'bout we do that seitan sausage." It's gotten to where he says it for me, "But that has gluuuuuuuuten!" Or when he's making dessert? "Can we make that sugar free and gluten free?" Or when it comes to soup, "Does it /really/ need that soy in there?" Why? Because we push each other to do the best that we can do, the most exciting food that we can produce, while still keeping an eye on labour, costing, portion control, the whole nine.

And now we're able to do that with our books too. It's a nice feeling.


Eggless Tofu Salad, Ariix Style

My friend Joanne from Canada makes this eggless egg salad that's stellar. She graciously agreed to share it. The reason I bring it up is because I whipped up a quick batch today, because I was hungry, and nothing looked good (you know those days). I was starting to need something protein filled, because my energy was flagging a bit, and my tummy was rumbling a bit. The soup wasn't completed yet, and I /really/ wasn't in the mood for firm tofu (which is how the grilled tofu is, since it's frozen and thawed). It was just one of those days.

From memory, I whipped up a quick batch. Of course, I used our own Soy Milk Mayo for it, because I'm not trying to go spend $5 on a jar of the commercial vegan mayo. For this particular batch, I totally forgot the dijon mustard, which would have made it perfection. I also skipped the tamari, because I couldn't find any. :P I just added salt instead. I also added some chopped New York Half Sour Pickles. Because everything is better with half sours.

1 lb firm tofu, crumbled
1-2 rib(s) celery, thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced, or 2-4 tbsp finely chopped onion
1/2 cup Vegan mayonnaise (or to taste)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1 small clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp prepared mustard
1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
black pepper and salt to taste

Mix it all together and put in the fridge for a few hours to let
the flavours blend. Serve in sandwiches, or on a bed of lettuce,



flowers bloom,
petals fall.
what kinds of things happen,
2 these flowers?
they can grow high,
or die too soon, sadly.
birds eat their seeds,
so maybe flowers will grow high.
9/13/2010 huxley preefer, 3rd grade.

9/11: and 9/14, 9/16, 9/17, 9/20.

Collective Gasp.

On 6th Ave and Waverly, down they tumbled,
together we watched the towers of mighty, how small
we were next their grandeur one moment,
how small we are.
Humbled together, crushed - a pancake of hatred,
not sweet.
No doubt, we are in this together;
we are all, sons with knives.
9/14/2001 nyc.

The Devil’s Cigar.

Thunderous rivers of billowing smoke,
alone with the night, my throat and I choke.
I wonder, I wonder and really I pray,
I sit and I ponder, away and away -
a child, a father, a mother, a land, wherever i go,
it’s Destiny’s plan. A decision, a way, of how not to be:
I’ll travel the road, my own history.
The Lesson before me is simple and clear,
kindness I honor, and all I revere.
9/16/2001, nyc

Sound & Sight.

To everyone, everywhere, N.Y.C.: BIG, LOUD!
It's quiet now: church bells & sirens;
the police officers and firemen: NOT THE SAME.
It's a small town with ghost streets,
At the liquor store on 6th ave, u can hear their "OPEN" neon sign buzzing.
After 10PM, at Spring and Houston, Mister Softee is serving a large crowd:
transfixed on the new amusement park.
9/17/2001, nyc.

Acrid Rain.

i want them to be found,
uncovered with cheer,
i see them and hear them,
3,000 clear. they’re inside a big box
of metal I’m sure, protected
and waiting, extremely secure .

a blue day so quiet with birds
in the sky, folks walk like a zombies
with frankenstein eyes. i stop and i tremble with
others that pray, our teardrops are rivers
near pictures they lay.

it’s gloomy and wet, unlike yesterday,
the smoke that’s been
rising is hidden away.

a new moment i cherish, a game that i play,
i say over and over, they’re not far away.
they’re inside this big box, sealed tight and quite safe,
i know it and feel it, but then i awake.
a smell that is drifting, a seared odor from then,
it’s september 11th all over again.
September 20, 2001, nyc.

sweet reveries bout the chow.

09:15 am

Dinner with Barbara at Sacred Chow. I just love eating there. The conversation was also awesome, as always.

Being vegan. I don't remember ever being as excited about food when I was eating animals.

Seeing the lights from ground zero on my way home from the subway. Not necessarily a happy reminder, but something about affirming even the most horrific events makes me happy that I am alive and fell lucky to be walking on this earth.


Posted on 9/11

The six things I could never do without

- Female beauty
- Old Hook Farm (where I work and get my groceries)
- Visual Arts (what keeps me balanced on the edge of sanity)
- Peking House (Cold noodles w/peanut-sesame sauce)
- Hayao Miyazaki (and the rest of Studio Ghibli)
- Sacred Chow ( and other veg restaurants in NYC)
- And, apparently, parentheses.


Friday the 10th of September 2010 at 6:51 PM

Sitting inside Sacred Chow awaiting my power bowl. They do awesome food and it’s just round the corner from Generation Records & Washington Square Park.



I listed about a dozen of the restaurants that I’d been to in my previous post, but it’s worth noting that Buddha Bodai, Peacefood Cafe, and Sacred Chow aren’t just places I’ve been to once or twice. I probably have gone to those three restaurants more than any other in New York City, and I highly recommend each of them.

Another great lunch I had was at Sacred Chow. I had been there for brunch many, many times, but never for lunch. I have always heard good things about their soy meatball hero, so that's what I ordered!

It was really good and tasted very authentic (Italian). It was very filling too, I couldn't finish it all!

Best in Manhattan

The best Manhattan Organic Restaurants.

1.Cafe Blossom
3.Pure Food and Wine
5.Bread Tribeca
6.Mangia Organics
7.Sacred Chow
9.One Lucky Duck