You can see it burn in their eyes. That gleam you see is not just reflection from the kitchen fire—it’s passion. For the food. For the place where they work. For the people they meet.
On Day 2 of our Los Angeles Raves & Faves tour, we saw that kind of passion in the people behind the scenes—the ones who bring you the food. It came out in the way they talked about their food, the pride with which they presented their food, and the way they watched us as our crew sampled our way through the various menus.
And we’re not only talking the chefs, here. The restaurant manager, the chef, the servers—restaurant food passes through many hands on its way to you. Servers watched with smiles as plate after plate was brought out for sampling. Busy managers stopped in their tracks to check on us and all the restaurant guests around us.
It was more than hospitality, although that was certainly evident. There’s no other word for it. It was passion.
At Jerry’s Famous Deli Executive Chef Shauna Dunne is used to giving people what they want; she’s been in charge of the kitchens at Jerry’s for 16 years. She’s pictured here (on the left) with General Manager Robbin Stubbs, who has been there for 21 years.
That same passion is why other staff members consider Jerry’s a second home—Barbie’s worked there for 21 years; Richie for almost 25, and each of their mother’s worked there before they ever did. All of them stay because they love what they do.
Passion is the reason they prepare hundreds of matzo balls at each location every day (count ’em, that’s thousands of matzo balls every day!). It’s why they brought us halvah to try, and celery soda, and their FreshMint Lemonade Slush—simply because they wanted us to have the experience of those foods. It’s why they stayed nearby as we tasted and tested and why they eventually felt OK with just sitting down with us to talk about their passion, both for food and for Jerry’s.
Later in the day, at Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Q, we found Executive Chef Chris Ferrell. He has taken his personal passion for barbeque and helped turn Lucille’s into one of the hottest concepts in southern California. In fact, smoking meat is still his hobby, which he equates to fishing or golfing: “The point is not what you get at the end, it’s simply doing it.” And, he does it a lot. “If you come to my house, most likely you are going to get some sauce, some ribs, some chicken,” he says. “I’m just passionate about barbequing.”
Without any feeling that he’s explained it over and over, Ferrell gave us his perspective on barbeque vs grill, on sauce, and on hard work. Passion is the reason he and his crew smoke up to 15,000 pounds of meat per week. Passion is the reason they do quality control twice a day. And, it’s why he, too, sat down with us at the end of the shoot just to talk a little more about food. Of course, he brought more food with him (oh, that banana pudding!).
Today we saw pride of ownership in creating food. We watched them as they watched us, and we saw the smile of satisfaction on their faces when we showed obvious enjoyment. It wasn’t a prideful smile—it was more about successfully sharing their passion. They took pleasure in our pleasure.
“One of my proudest moments,” says Ferrell, “was watching one of my take out bags go marching across JFK airport. Someone was bringing my food to their friends in New York.” In other words, they were sharing their passion.
Passion. Pride. And true pleasure. Pass it on.
_See a teaser of them bringing on the food at Lucille’s, here.
Raves & Faves/L.A. Day 1 – Food That Sticks to You
Raves & Faves/L.A. Day 3 – Getting to Know You
Stick with us as we move through Los Angeles this week, visiting restaurants on our Los Angeles Restaurant tour, sponsored by U.S. Foodservice.