I hostess at a Manhattan hotpot restaurant. We’re delaying opening due to COVID developments in the city. We trained for 3 days, and then the spot opened for takeout 2 days later. We’re not sure what post-Thanksgiving NYC will look like, so we’re on hold. The waitstaff is generally under 25, with a few notable exceptions. The hostesses are actors, opera singers, fierce women. We are 4, and we are mighty. I’m proud to join front of house, to be honest: the schedule is flexible, and I will be full time. I will be able to pay rent, pay my bills, thrive.
I am a cook. I’ve never taken cooking classes; my parents cooked every dinner of my childhood, with occasional visits to Indian, Vietnamese, and Chinese restaurants local to us. We fell in love with an Afghan chain, with amazing spiced, grilled lamb and fresh bread; had Indian lunch buffet as a treat; ate ramen and pho and grilled pork. My favorite dish when I was in kindergarten was spaghetti carbonara - most kids said pizza or ice cream. I went to Switzerland for the first month of school when I was 4; I turned 5 and had 4 parties: one in Zurich with family, one on the plane, one at school, and one at home with friends. I had a pin that said “I am 5” - I still have it in my childhood room.
Maybe one day I’ll go to culinary school and apprentice in a restaurant. I dream about Masterchef, judged by Gordon Ramsey and a few other stellar minds in food; I make curried lentils from scratch, without a recipe. I make ratatouille, remembering my southern French host mother, from Nimes; she baked me a flourless chocolate cake once a month or so, and we drank a glass or two of red wine with our dinner on weekday evenings. They left me quiche Lorraine when they went to their country house on holiday; I chowed down on it with my friend Perry, from London, and my then-love, Iván. I brurnched with my host family every Sunday: country pate followed by meat or fish, then salad. We took long walks with toddler Maéva, then 1 1/2; I would often babysit her on weekends, dancing around to Tété (a Senegalese subway musician, he got a record deal straight from the streets of Paris) in the living room.