A week ago, I was en route to NYC and my schedule was kinda crazy.
How crazy? Like whoa.
Saturday, 4pm: land in Newark. shuttle to Manhattan with Bokado grupo(Arzak’s catering team)
Saturday, 6pm: arrive in Bar Basque kitchen. Jason already waiting in kitchen and helping Bar Basque cook eggs. allocate ingredients, organize stations, prep stocks, sauces, everything necessary for longer prep day ahead.
Sunday, 1:30am: finish in Bar Basque. wander to Korea town for BBQ at Wonjo.
Sunday, 4am: finally asleep in bed in hotel.
Sunday, 6am: wake up to alarm. did I even reach REM sleep?
Sunday 7am: arrive at Bar Basque ready to prep. Jason already present with coffee. Najat and Charles arrive shortly afterwards. We form teams of 2: Juan y Najat, Leandro y Jason, Charles y yo. Off we go!
Sunday 10am: Bokado grupo arrives. I get help from 1 or 2 guys for a few hours. Score.
Sunday 12pm: Alex arrives from Degustation. Big hug. I pass on Ensalada Tibia duties for her to take charge.
Sunday 5pm: Wild card. Jason, MVP of prep, slices finger on meat slicer. I’m thinking ‘holy shiiiiitake.’ Ambulance to Bellevue.
Sunday 7pm: Jason returns. wtf? Mind-blowing. Hugs all around. Juan emotional. We love Jason. He continues to prep. omfg. Una maquina (a machine).
Sunday 9pm: Martin arrives. I meet him in his hotel lobby. We find Arzak, Patxi Lopez y Joxe Mari Aizega at the bar.
Sunday 10pm: Reunite with team at Golden Unicorn in chinatown. Bad service, bad food before restaurant closes. Apparently they’re only good for dimsum during peak hours. Nonetheless I enjoy myself in good company and a tsingtao.
Sunday 12pm: Nightcap in bar of Martin’s hotel with the team. Belvedere and cranberry never tasted better. Cheers to tomorrow.
Monday 2am: Finally in bed, whatever that is.
Monday 6:30am: Alarm sounds. Ak, running late. Banana bread and chocolate milk (espresso for Juan and Leandro) at Starbucks on the corner. I don’t support bad coffee. I miss banana bread.
Monday 7:15am: arrive at Bar Basque. Alex, Najat and Charles already present. Hugs and smiles all around. I love them.
Monday 7:20am: Martin calls. He couldn’t sleep and wants to come to Bar Basque. I arrange to meet him at 8am in his hotel (instead of originally planned 9am). joder. always.
Monday 7:30am: Jason and Aaron arrive. Aaron took 2am bus from Boston after his shift at Menton. Una maquina.
Monday 8:15am: Stuck in traffic. Issues with mobile skype. Finally reach Martin’s cell. He is on bus to Bar Basque. wtf? joder. BUS?
Monday 9am: arrive back at Bar Basque. Martin arrives shortly. Took BasqueTour-arranged shuttle bus. breathe. Show Martin around Bar Basque. He checks sauces and prep.
Monday 9:10am: ‘How is the solomillo in the US?’ Martin asks. We make some on the grill. Meat for breakfast. ‘Not bad’, he says referring to quality of meat.
Monday 9:15am: I get Martin out of everyone’s hair. He wants to see knives. Korin not open until 10am. Off to Chelsea market.
Monday 9:30am: Fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice for MB. I decline. We look at knives, spatulas, ice cube trays, etc. in Bowery marketplace. He buys. I carry.
Monday 10am: Back to BB. Prepare press materials (USBs, books, camera). Basque purveyors set up stands. Happy to see Txomin Etxaniz Txakolí! No time for bubbles. Back to kitchen for prep.
Monday 11am: Guests begin arriving. Surprised but happy to see Bourdain. Alex y equipo finish Ensalada Tibia. Finishing sauces, espumas y esféricas. Setting up plating pass and mise en place. Martin and I are in and out of kitchen, between press, guests, sauces and solomillo.
Monday 12pm: Basque gov’t reps make a few announcements. Martín explains dishes. Service begins. Camera in hand. Woosh.
Yup. ALL of this before the 1.5 hour meal for 24 invitees. There was blood. There was sweat. I don’t think I saw any tears just yet.
Stay tuned for details…