In the pursuit of art.....no, really....the kid abandoned the super-models and his non-euro life-style in Prague for the gritty Goya realism of the higher reaches of modern cuisine. Hence, we find the lad getting off a bus in Renteria (think Alameda, beat up old port with hillsides full of projects) in a driving rainstorm, dragging a suitcase. Room and board and ten euros a day for four months as a stagier at Mugaritz.
Not to worry. The restaurant is not in the port. It is out of town, out towards Oiartzun in the country. Very Cachagua-like. Guys speeding by in beater cars with mufflers banging sparks....Cows and chickens and dogs in the back yard of the restaurant.
First, the room: two bunk beds, four guys.....just enough room to walk between the bunks. Quite a downshift from the apartment near the museum in Prague........
Not to worry. First day on the job was mellow. Arrived at noon, only had to work til 2am. And not back to work until 9:30 am the next day! That is like....only 14 hours on, and 7.5 off! Who cares about the room?
Turns out the crazy honor of being drafted by Mugaritz is somewhat diluted by the fact that there are TWENTY-FIVE other honorees. So, it is like high-level soccer, or the SS: congrats, you got picked, now, in order to advance, you have to kill all the other guys who got picked with you.
Not to worry. The other-worldly gifted chef (Andoni Aduriz) you have signed up to work with isn't actually around. Too busy being a celeb. Working food events, like the Masters of Food and Wine (where he met us...and by the way: they haven't paid him the $1800 they owe him for working the $4000 per head dinner for 30 he did....fucking Hyatt).....trolling for new blood. His second-in-command, Napoleon, is a raging fuckhead. No talking during your 14 hours; and certainly no joking. Kinda like Tassajara. Two 30 minute breaks in your 14, and lotsa abuse.
Brendan is assigned to BBQ duty in the back: eggplant, veggies, chicken. Lotsa burned fingers..
Brendan tries to lighten the load with his co-workers when Nappy is not around. Talking and joking. Even in MachoLand, there are very few guys that can hang with Brendan. This tactic backfires, however. The cool guy from Portland, with major skills (he has been working in France for 8 months, and been at Mug for 2) is reminded that there is a world of humor and irony.....and quits. Same with the guy from El Bulli. Two of his buddies are gone in the first 48 hours. Fuck. The Portland guy goes back to FRANCE!! Which is like leaving Iraq and moving to North Korea....
Well, heck......only 118 days to go!
The super cool guy from WD-50 in New York is still there (he tried to hire the Portland guy on the way out....) but he is only down for a 21 day stretch. Survivable.
Indication of stress on The Lad: He has drawings for remodeling the Cachagua Store into something real.......
Remember Midnight Express?