Why I Love This: Maya Erickson, Gregory Gourdet, David Kinch

A new column, because the world keeps turning, and cooking still rules.

November 18, 2016 ‚óŹ 3 min read


2016 has been a fucking doozy. 

Current political happenings aside (but in the interest of acknowledging them, GOOD GRIEF) it’s been a rough year for the restaurant industry. Every week, we endured a new opinion piece or article outlining the myriad ways that restaurants were for better or worse, screwed. Rising labor costs, a shrinking work force, out of control rents, diners that would rather order take-out than sit in a dining room. There was hand-wringing over the death of fine dining, then the rise of fast-casual, and then the rise of the fast-casual-fine-dining which was the most embarrassing thing to happen since Guy Fieri had his Lambo stolen.   

It became hard to see the bright spots, but: we remained. We got up for work everyday, we taught, we learned, and we led. Some days it sucked — the grill guy figured out he could cash in paid sick days, the salad cook took a sous job, and the walk-in compressor blew out — but mostly, it was joyful. We found solace in each other. We found peace through cooking.  

No one needs to be reminded how hard it is to work in a restaurant. But it’s nice to be reminded why we show up every day. It’s nice to remind ourselves why we do this, and moreover, why we love this. So we’re launching this column to provide a regular reminder that good things exist, whether you’re in the industry or not. Check back on the reg. — Richie Nakano

Maya Erickson, IDK Restaurant Group

The realness, the baddest of the bad. Erickson throws down world-class pastry game with the cool confidence of a Michelin-starred chef. 

What I love about this industry is no matter how alone I feel and how disheartened and how depressed and filled with sadness I ever feel, I know that I have an entire group of people who are my family and friends, who share a similar passion and drive and strive for excellence, who come together through food. Who are constantly humbled and inspired by the people that we work with, and nobody thinks they're better than anybody else. Everybody just wants to make good food with good people. As alone as I can ever feel, I know that I have a family no matter where I go.

Gregory Gourdet, Departure 

Top chef finalist. World traveler. Inter-state culinary director. Handsome af. GG wears a lot of hats, but it's his warmth and outrageous talent that's really blows us away.

I love cooking because it lets me connect to people, places and natural things of beauty. The first connection is with the people you have to cook with. The second connection is with the people who grows our food, from plants to animals. The third connection is the extended community from the diners to everything it takes to put a restaurant together, to put an event together, to keep things moving in a great direction.

David Kinch, Manresa

The reason you cook the way you cook, and plate the way you plate. The standard bearer of California cuisine. If we have to tell you who this man is then we have a whole separate set of problems.

That’s an easy question to answer. This industry is a terrible business to be in if you don't love it. It's hard on you physically, mentally, emotionally. [It's hard on] your family life. You're in it for a reason. If you love it, it's because you like taking care of people. Making sure that people are happy. If you still get pleasure out of offering pleasure to other people, then our job is easy. To lose sight of that is really to lose sight of the fundamental aspects of what this industry is all about.  

Interviews by Richie Nakano | Collage by ChefsFeed