Stage 4: The Breakup
Jenny McCoy: My last restaurant job was at Craft and I left to start my own line of baking mixers. I left on good terms, but they were really sad. And whenever you leave a restaurant, the first question they ask is, “Where are you going?” Because if you’re leaving to go somewhere better, or to a competitor, it doesn’t matter if you did everything right -- you’ve sort of tainted your exit. So I remember sitting down and handing over my letter of resignation and before [my chef, James Tracey] even opened it, that was his question. “Where are you going?” And I was like, “I’m launching my own product line.” And he said, “Oh, okay, great. Congratulations! That’s awesome.” But if I had been like, “Oh, I’m going to Per Se,” or something, they probably would’ve been like, “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”
Ferran Adrià: Once a decision was reached between Juli and I, the first step was to communicate it to the closest team -- in other words, the kitchen and dining area managers. Obviously, we asked them to be discreet with the decision until it was official. They were surprised, and skeptical. But with time, everything got clearer, and the majority of the team assumed their new roles under the new project.
Trevor Bailey: It was difficult to tell everyone. Everyone knew me as being a chef and that’s it. So it was pretty scary for me to think, “Okay. At the age I am now, in my late 30s, what am I going to do?” If I look at my resume, from the age of 15 ‘til now, that’s all you see. It’s cooking, it’s food, in different restaurants and hotels. People were shocked, I guess, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t worried about anyone else. I had to take care of myself.
Marisa Mangani: I had come down to Sarasota looking for chef opportunities and being a chef at a country club had better hours. I had a 1-year-old baby, so I decided I would apply to this club, and I got a job as a clubhouse chef making BLTs for Midwesterners. It was just really frustrating. They had a corporate chef and I honestly went to him when he came around to check on everything and said, “You know what? Nothing against this job but I’m 34 and I’m racking my brain to figure out what I can segue into with my experience. I don’t wanna work in a kitchen anymore. Do you have any ideas for me?” And he said, "There’s a kitchen design firm in the next town over. In fact, they designed this kitchen here.” And I thought, “Wow, that’d be cool.” So I applied for this job and I guess they saw something in me because I got the job.
Werner Absenger (manned the kitchen at lauded Grand Rapids restaurant Cygnus 27 before quitting to found the Absenger Cancer Education Foundation): I never questioned being a chef, because I really liked being in the kitchen. But then my dad was diagnosed with cancer. Going through this experience had a deep impact on me. Because my dad was pretty young when he was diagnosed -- he died when he was 60. I pretty much started to question everything I was doing at the time.