If you receive my blog posts via email, you’ll have to go to www.robinschicks.com in order to view the video links properly. (AHEM– Dad.)
If you’re wondering how Emma, my 7 year old, ended up spending the day with a James Beard Award Winning chef– here’s the backstory. Honestly, I thought it was really nice of him to respond to the column I wrote and to send a tweet to Emma. I thought it was going WAY beyond nice when he invited her to come back to City Grocery to cook with him.
But there are no words for the level of awesome I got to watch Emma experience yesterday. I tried to capture as many photos and videos as I could, because I wanted y’all to see it and experience it first hand. My words could never describe the sheer joy on Emma’s face yesterday.
I wanted to edit all of me out of these videos but it sort of took away from one of the many things that makes John an awesome person. When I was getting all, “CHOP, CHOP, Emma! He’s a busy man– ask your next question,” and trying to hurry her along, John never once lost interest in a single word that came out of Emma’s mouth. And there were SO. many. words.
The night before…
She was rip-roarin’ and ready to go.
We met at John’s main office where they handle catering for special events and also process almost all of the meat for all five of his restaurants. We walked into the walk-in fridge and John pointed to more bacon than I’ve ever seen at one time in my life. He asked Emma if she knew what it was.
John: No, it’s pork, can you guess…
John: Yep, that’s right. Do you know what part of the pig bacon comes from?
Em: The belly.
No idea how she knows this stuff.
The main office is also where the pastry chef makes desserts for all five restaurants. Emma was basically the happiest she’s ever been– she was surrounded by chocolate and bacon and people kept handing her foods to try: pickled okra, homemade Polish sausage, handmade caramels– you’d be happy too.
We loaded up in my Patty Peck Honda Odyssey. My mom was going to sit in the back to let John sit in the front but Emma said, “Can he please sit back here with me?”
John didn’t even pause. He hopped in the backseat and I tried not to laugh out loud when I closed the automatic door for him. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him reach for his seatbelt. Emma who is used to buckling her little sister in, reached over and grabbed the buckle and snapped it in place for him.
“Thanks,” he said matter of factly. And a few stray tears squeaked out of my eyes– it was too precious and too hilarious.
Some highlights of the day…
We went to all FIVE of John’s restaurants: City Grocery, Big Bad Breakfast (one is opening on 280 in Bham very soon!) Snackbar, Boure, and Lamar Lounge and every single person who was working stopped what they were doing and gave Emma their complete attention. Not in a patronizing, “let’s get this over with” kind of way. They were precious and willing to talk and listen as long as she was there. We’d walk in a kitchen, John would say, “This is Emma,” and everybody in the room would speak to her.
We ended the day at City Grocery with a cooking lesson and lunch.
Then John got a phone call…
While Emma was on the phone with Alex Guarnaschelli, John saw an opportunity and stole a bite of Emma’s chocolate chess pie.