Oh what glorious stuff this is, this restaurant business. And in all this glory perhaps the most remarkable time is now. When the shift is over. Not because the people have gone and the job is done, but because it is time for deep breaths and work-well-done-congratulations. The show is over. The night was busy and boisterous. People left warm and in good cheer. That is it. That is what we do, and do well. Satisfaction. The kitchen guys feel it, they are happy, they have shift drinks in their bellies. Winding down is an art form. Beer is paint. Everything is quiet. The energy, the clarity, the muscle memory, the precise actions, the direct words of people in battle, all are muted. Reduced to quiet moments, like movie memory montages bouncing about, hiding in the corners, the fringes, sometimes the fridges. All of the equipment is still on, humming a lullaby which will keep the spirit alive 'til morning. The kitchen's metronome, the ice machine, drops a crash of fresh ice into the bin, unnerving the new kid. The veterans don't even notice, just one of the many heartbeats of this place. This quiet kitchen is romantic, in the way Hemingway or Conrad or Kipling are romantic. The kitchen tells stories. It breaks hearts. It boxes ears on beachheads. It is a thing of beauty. A matter of pride. A home.
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