Saying goodbye: Half begun is only half done

                                                              
I hate saying goodbye. 

It’s so morbid: a focus on the finality of the moment instead of a commeration of what was and a celebration of what is to come.     

So, in deference to my time in Toledo and in celebration of what I consider a truly special friendship with a great restaurant family, I am going to recount my final days in the restaurant as a way of explaining exactly why Adolfo Muñoz, his restaurant, and his family all SERIOUSLY rock… and why you, dear reader, should visit them ASAP.     

First, the backstory:       

Easter in Toledo is huge. It is a weeklong festivity that is– to use some crude ‘merican-in-a-bad-southern-accent terminology– the Super Bowl of religious holidays in Spain…     

Easter in Toledo

    

       

SO going to hell for that comparison, but Paras says I am well on my way already thanks to the f-bombs I dropped in the cathedral of Segovia!    

  
       

Due to the heavy presence of Catholicism in the city (as evidenced by the GIGANTIC cathedral right outside my front door and strolling Jesuses dragging crosses and bleeding in the streets), Easter means a week of tourism, parades, and LOTS of business for the local restaurant trade.     

And what is the fanciest, most respected restaurant in Toledo for Super Christ Bowl (SCB) 2010? You guessed it: El restaurante de Señor Adolfo Munoz. This means that everyday of SCB 2010, for lunch and dinner services, we were slammedededed busy– with Saturday being my last day of work and Sunday my travel day.     

The final night of Toledo debauchery

Saturday work was typical: Cuts, burns, blood, sweat, and tears.    

When the smoke cleared and all was done, it was off to the bars for a few drinks and some promises that I would return for family meal on Sunday– yes, I am a self-confessed food mooch when it comes to our “paella sundays” for family meal at the restaurant. Plus, I wanted to see Adolfo, Javier, and everyone at the restaurant before going.     

With all of the packing and preparing on Sunday, I got there in time for food–but service was starting so goodbyes were fast. Within minutes of opening the doors, they were packed, orders were coming in, and I needed to get to the train station early for my 6pm train (I was, stupidly, trying to change my ticket for an earlier one–more on that in a second).     

As fate would have it all of the trains were full, so I had to wait. At 5pm, I got a call from Javier: “Are you here? We are outside the train station.”        

I looked up–and in walks Javier, fresh from work in his black Armani and with 2 shopping bags in tow. And behind him, in his gleaming white chef coat, walks Adolfo–also carrying 2 heavy bags of shwag (did I mention my bags were TOTALLY filled with stuff already?!).        

One of Adolfo's gifts. Part of it says: "Jeffrey, your successes shall be our triumphs."

They came to say they appreciated my time, my work, and my friendship.        

They came to say that I am family.        

They came to say goodbye.      


Now, a lot of people at my school in Ithaca are studying general hospitality–how the services we provide impacts, and more specifically brings joy, to others (let’s call this external hospitality).      

And a lot of other people study Organizational Behavior and Human Resources–the means by which we provide that service, as seen through the lens of interpersonal, interorganizational behaviors and communications. In other words– how organizations treat their people and how those people are impacted (let’s call this internal hospitality).        

You know where I am going with this: What chefs do YOU know– meaning famous guys; the guys with book deals, medals from presidents, and A LOT better things to do than go to the train station after a bust-ass service– that would come to the train station to see off some annoying American wanna-be cook?         

This, my friends, was hospitality on any and every level, at it’s highest form, in action.    

It’s something that the  Muñoz family does seemlessly everyday of their lives for their customers, their employees, and each other. And so, for the first time in maybe forever, I was speechless and utterly humbled at such a profound lesson as I borded my train for Madrid.        

Which brings me back to my original problem…I hate saying goodbye.        

So, I respectfully refuse:        

This isn’t goodbye, Toledo.        

This isn’t goodbye, Adolfo & Javier.        

This isn’t goodbye cacamusa (a local specialty and one of the best pork dishes this side of the Atlantic)        

This isn’t goodbye annoying, middle-of-the-street-walking tourists, crazy vertical hills, inspired Moorish architecture, or preachy nuns who stop me and ask “Do you know Jesus, young cocinero?” (to which I reply “yes, Sister–in the kitchen”)          

This is goodbye for now…        

Thanks for the memories.   

Final moments in Toledo with mi familia Española

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One Response to “Saying goodbye: Half begun is only half done”

  1. DONA AND GROVER Says:

    Jeff: Congratulaions on a job well done. Another episode in your lift.
    Chef’s hats off to you.
    Love, Dona & Grover Cleveland

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