So, I know, I'm behind the times. The Perfectionist is old news. The book came out in 2005 and I'm just getting around to it now.
It depressed the hell out me, but oddly enough, energized me at the same time. The depressing part wasn't for the obvious reason though. Yes, suicide is tragic, but in the context of bi-polar disorder, more understandable.
While there are many differences between Bernard Loiseau and myself, there are also some strong similarities. We both took on gigs of responsibility sooner than we should have, rather than rounding out our experience for a few years. Both media whores. Both manically overwork. Both crushed when people have less than glowing reports. Both with restaurants in out of the way places.
It was the last one that was so depressing. Even after attaining 3 Michelin stars winters for Loiseau were bleak with dining rooms empty. This in a country where 3 Michelin stars means a significant increase in business. He even built 3 successively smaller dining rooms so that clients would feel comfortable when there were few of them to fill the room.
The summer season seems to last a little longer every year. Last year we even entertained notions that it wouldn't slow down too much this winter. I have this idea that like in the Great Gatsby, "tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further…And one fine morning...," trying to ignore the end of the quote "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
At least I did until I finished The Perfectionist. If someone who is a household name in France, a country where people take the words, "worth a special trip" for a meal seriously, can't fill a dining room in the off-season, how the hell would I?
Last night a friend from SF dined with us for the first time. He said, "You'd be a star if you were in the city." Years ago our linen guy said, "Do you know how busy you'd be if you were in the city?" Thank you both for the sentiments, but we are where we are, to paraphrase Popeye.
The energizing part was the liberation. Knowing that the dining room will be empty in the winter now seems somehow freeing. I don't like the prospect and check with me again in winter-time, but I don't feel like if we were just more well-known, or if we were somehow, in some way a little better...
I just know that we need to be the best, regardless of where we are, who we are, and who are customers are. And how many of them there are.