Tuesday, my last day at L'Etoile, was bittersweet. I woke up at 4 30 like I always do, and rode to work in the rain. I didn't mind though. They day went on like normal. I said goodbye to Nate, the Graze sous chef, around 10 or so. The cooks came in, and I stayed for about a half hour after they got there. I was looking for excuses to stay around longer than I had to, just because I really wasn't ready to walk out of that kitchen for good. But the time came, I shook everyone's hands. Thanked everyone, and hung the thank you letter that I wrote to the staff on the pass. On the way out I got some phone numbers, got some hugs, and Scott and I even had a little mini photoshoot, because he wanted a picture of me walking down the hall for the last time, looking back over my shoulder.
I got home, laid on my bed, watched some 30 rock, and eventually, it was time to go back for dinner. I had made a reservation for myself and Mary to go to dinner at L'Etoile to celebrate my last night. I showed up, and was greeted by the FOH staff. They set one menu down on the table, and it was Mary's menu. They told me I didn't get a menu because I should have it memorized, which I did. I had already picked out what I was going to order that morning. I glanced at Mary's menu, and realized at the top, it read in big bold print, "Best of Luck Mike. We'll Miss You!" Moments later, a server came to the table and handed me a menu. It was signed by the whole staff with personal notes from every member of the staff. I immediately read the first note, it read...
"Thanks for all your hard work. Keep your great attitude and you'll get anywhere you want to go. If you ever need anything, including a job, let me know."
I was overwhelmed. Then the food came and it got even better. I ordered the soup, and the hash, and the scallops. The soup was a tuscan bread soup. Its sarvecchio cheese broth with chunks of bread, pork meatballs, and iceberd lettuce. It was really good. I always snack on the meatballs when the Hot Side guy makes them, so I really wanted this dish. Mary ordered the radish salad, and they brought out the head cheese as an extra course. Then they brought out the midcourses. The hash, was the dish I was most excited for. It is a yukon potato and celery root hash with confit chicken gizzards and a smoked shallot puree, toped with a sunny side up duck egg and spicy hollandaise. It was so good I can't believe it. I'm still having dreams about it.
Then, Ed hooked us up. Before out entrees they brought out two pork chops. They gave us extra entrees, and it was the other dish on the menu that I really wanted to try. The pork dish is an awesome berkshire pork chop, pan roasted to a perfect medium, served with a hash of delacata squash, cabbage, and cranberries. and the sauce is a foie gras cognac jus. Awesome. Just awesome. By this time in the evening I was on the verge of drunk. They brought us wine pairings with each course, and, since Mary had practice at 6 am this morning, and since she drove me, I drank her wine too. I couldn't let it go to waste.
The final course, was sublime. I ordered the scallops. Theyre Beatifully seared and served with ham, brussel sprouts, sweet potato puree, and sauce choron. I had never had a scallop with a sear as great as that. It was incredible. Absolutely incredible. For dessert, we had extra courses too. I ordered the chololate pate, Mary ordered the apple grunt with gingerbread crumbles. Both were great, and they also brought out the pumpkin mousse with zabaglione, and two cupcakes.
The bill came. I looked at it, and we had gotten 295 dollars worth of food, and wine. The total on the bill, "$00.00". It was my first comped meal ever, and it was incredible. I was almost angry that they did it. They had done so much for me already, it was too much.
Mary and I went back in the kitchen, thanked everyone, and I said goodbye to the FOH staff. I was told that my thank you letter made some of the servers cry. We left, Mary dropped me off at home, and just like that one of the best days of my life was over. I never really realized that I meant as much as I did to all the people here. I just figured I was the intern. But they're going to miss me. A lot.
Today I'm going back to thank Tory for everything, to get a few things finished up in the office, and to say one last goodbye to the bakers. Then after dinner service I've been instructed to be at Graze, for one last night with the cooks. I can't wait.
Thursday I return home, and on Saturday I will be at Kuntz stadium, cheering on my old high school soccer team, the guys who I coached last year, as they compete in the state championship. Who knows, maybe they'll let me on the bench if I wear my "Coach Kolodjez" jacket. Yea, I'd been a member of the program for 5 years and they still spelled my last name wrong.
Well, time to tie off some loose ends in Madison.
It's been real L'Etoile, thanks for the memories.
Mikey, Former Intern.