Thursday, November 7, 2002
HOME BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS...At the time I am filing this column, SWEET THING and myself are preparing to travel to GRAVENHURST, ONTARIO to visit my wonderful parents. Even though the trip is for personal reasons, it will still be extremely food related. MY OLD MAN is the penultimate food and hospitality guy. His innate desire to lovingly cook and care for visitors, combined with my MOM''S loving, welcoming spirit are the exact components of the greatest restaurant and hospitality people.
MY SISTER AND BROTHER-IN-LAW will also be joining up with us, so there promises to be some long, spirited eating and yapping sessions. It''s been a long time since my father, sister and I have been together late into the evening and early morning, simultaneously discussing life and preparing a little something to nosh on. Most of the important interactions in our lives have been fueled by good food, either at home or in a restaurant.
In fact, one of the most important functions the modern restaurant serves is as a neutral meeting place for people to discuss important matters in their lives. Whenever SWEET THING and I are struggling to communicate, we go to a joint, have a couple of pops, a good meal and before long, we''ve worked through whatever needed to be worked through. It''s a whole bunch better and more fun than counseling.
It also works if you''re flying solo. What better way to get a good answer about your life than to sit down with a TOP-NOTCH BARTENDER for some libation, word association and eventual liberation. Come on, that''s what it''s all about. The world''s a tough place and life can be a struggle. There is no more civilized method of dealing with it than the warm, welcoming "home away from home" that is a good joint.
That is one of the many reasons that great restaurant/hospitality professionals are so important in leading society. No group of people has a greater understanding of humans'' true character and needs than HOSPITALITY folks, so any decisions made for society would be more carefully thought out by talented service industry veterans than by the powers-that-be (the powers-that-be ____ing us all up).
DRUMROLL, PLEASE...One of the truly great hospitality veterans, ANTON "TONY" SALAMEH, long-time Carmel restaurateur, was recognized by his peers as the latest inductee into the MONTEREY COUNTY RESTAURATEUR''S HALL OF FAME. Mr. Salameh, owner of Anton and Michel''s and partners in The Grill on Ocean Avenue, PortaBella and Merlot! Bistro, has been an influential player on the local scene for over two decades.
At a dinner held in his honor at PASADERA COUNTRY CLUB, everybody''s favorite restaurant honcho became the second ever Hall of Fame member, joining the RAMIREZES, JULIO AND MARIE, of the FISHWIFE food empire. Tony, like Julio and Marie, by virtue of his intelligence, warmth and depth of spirit, transcends the one-dimensional tag of restaurant owner and enters into a select realm of true service professionals, whose very existence is defined by an instinctive awareness of others'' needs and an inherent ability to fulfill them.
Although completely successful in every way, as a businessman, family man and upstanding member of society, Tony Salameh manages to embrace everyone as an equal, displaying a humbleness and gentility rarely seen in today''s maddeningly egomaniacal world. Many of his employees have been with him for years and past employees, of which I consider myself lucky to be one, all remember him with respect and fondness. I personally have many direct anecdotes illustrating Tony''s character but am limited by space considerations to relay them here. Just trust me on this one.
Congratulations Tony, it couldn''t have happened to a more deserving person.
MONEY FOR FUTURE FOOD...At Tony''s special dinner, the JOHN CHADWELL ENDOWMENT FUND, named in honor of the late Executive Director of Pebble Beach-another all-around great guy-was announced. It will provide scholarships to local students interested in pursuing a career in hospitality.
AND ANOTHER DRUMROLL FOR... Speaking of a career in hospitality, let''s talk about CHERYL WARNER, who was awarded a Special Recognition Award for her contributions and tireless efforts since the inception of the Monterey Chapter of the CALIFORNIA RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION in 1988. Cheryl (I''ll bet she worked for Tony, too, at one point) has been a driving force behind so many charity events on this Peninsula and continues to be the first person to step up to the plate when help is needed.
I wish I could have been at this great event honoring these three titans of hospitality.
-Send your ravings to email@example.com