A New York Chef at Home on the "Range"
These letters were written to my friends in NYC in the Fall of 2000, when I worked as Head Chef at a hunting lodge in Meeker, Colorado.
Well, it seems I've been slacking on my ranch reports. So much has happened, but I've become quite burned out...because until yesterday and today, I worked three weeks straight with one day off. I know it sounds like a lot, and it is, but in this type of work, the time seems to pass pretty quickly, and a common question around here is "what day is it?" Time has little effect or consequence here. So I've been busy, but have also managed to have some fun and even get into some trouble!
The trouble started with Andy's birthday (Andy-AKA El Dente--remember?) First a note about Andy (since I've promised some of you that I would start describing the characters around here): Andy is a Mexican immigrant who has been washing dishes in these parts for the past 23 years. However, he still knows and understands very little English. Besides his one tooth, Andy's distinguishing characteristic is his affection for our waitress, Chrissie, whom he emphatically calls "Christinita!" In fact, Andy doesn't speak to me. When he walks into the kitchen in the morning, he doesn't say, "Hi, Sara"--he says "Christinita????" "No, she's not here yet, Andy." This is the extent of our daily conversation.
Andy is known for repeating himself endlessly. The only thing he's really ever said to me is that he wanted me to make some frijoles... and then he reminded me about 25 times. But his favorite phrase is "Mucho valle, Christinita!!!" which means, "Dance,Chrissie!!" "Mucho Valle!!!" One day Chrissie caught him in the kitchen dancing by himself singing "Christinita mui bonita, Muuucccho Vaaaalle, Chrissstinnita!" She's starting to get a little freaked out.
So it was his birthday and I made a big cake and we all gave him presents and drank Margaritas and then decided to get in the hot tub. At some point, Chrissie dared
Actually we were not in trouble for the party but for the fact that one of the guests had complained that we were making too much noise. Well, would you believe this entire adventure was over and completely quiet by 10:00 pm? We were all at home in our little beds by 10:30. That's what I mean by time. Any reasonable person could deal with a little birthday party noise that was over by 10 pm...but to the guest it may have seemed like 4:00 am. I guess there's not much difference out here. When you're ready to sleep, it doesn't matter what time it is. So we all apologized and the whole thing provided a great day of entertainment the following day.
The other adventure of this past week was a trip into Glenwood Springs to go dancing last Saturday night with Chrissie, Shane and Jake (a sweetheart ranch hand from
An-y-way, the highlight of the evening was when I convinced a very drunken back-woods redneck from
Today, I'm heading into Rifle (town about 40 miles from here) to look for a Halloween costume and to just get off the ranch for a little while--maybe pick up some pumpkins for carving. We'll all be going over to Sleepy Cat Ranch on the 28th for a Halloween shin-dig with live country music. Wish you all could be here!