I am Grant Achatz, the Greatest Chef in the World!
Grant Achatz is big in our house. A frequent dinner table conversation goes something like this:
Five-year-old Blaise: “I am the great chef Grant Achatz. Here is my creation!” (Displays bagel topped with cream cheese, bacon, frozen blueberries.)
Seven-year-old Beau: “No, I am Grant Achatz. I am the greatest chef in the world!”
Blaise: “No, Mommy is Grant Achatz!”
Beau: “Yeah, Mommy, you are Grant Achatz!”
Apparently, I am raising total food geeks.
This routine began in our house not long after my second interview with the real Grant Achatz. I’d written about Achatz and his relationship with local farmer Kate Lind for Edible Michiana and then pitched a second article about Achatz to Honest Cooking. The kids had seen the first article and undoubtedly heard me talking with their dad about the difficulty of lining up a second interview. We’d emailed for weeks—ok, mostly I’d emailed (stalked?) him for weeks and he’d emailed me a couple times saying he’d do it, but we never got anything on the calendar. The day before my article was due, chef emailed and said, “5pm tomorrow. Call me.”
There was no way I was missing that phone call. That day, I sat the kids down and said, “I have a very important phone call that I need to make later this afternoon. I will put a video on for you. Please do not interrupt me while I’m on the phone, no matter what.”
“Who are you going to be talking to?”
“Grant Achatz, the chef.”
“Can we interrupt you if the house is on fire?”
That afternoon, I left my son, who is autistic, with two students from the local university who were working with him to learn about autism. Blaise and I went to ballet class. As we headed home, I rehearsed my plan. I had 60 minutes:
Make and feed kids dinner. Turn on Scooby Doo. Interview world-famous chef.
No problem. So what if my husband was out of town at a conference? I had a plan. I had an interview with GRANT ACHATZ. I could do this, come hell or high water.
So I thought.
I pulled into the driveway and my cell rang. It was Connor, one of the college students.
“Hi. Uh, this is Connor.”
Uh oh. Beau’s had a meltdown and the students don’t know what to do.
“Hi,” I said, slightly annoyed that my plan was already going astray. “I’m just pulling into the driveway. I’ll be right inside.”
Then I walked in the door. And there was hell...and high water.
It was pooling on the hardwood floor of the entryway. On the kitchen tiles. On the bathroom floor. Pouring out of the toilet. And there was Becky, the other student, perched above the toilet on a stepstool trying to stop the flow by holding up the float in the tank.
“Mom, the toilet is overflowing,” Beau informed me.
Shit. (Actually, thankfully, no shit. Just “number one,” apparently.)
“Did you turn the water off?”
“We didn’t know how.”
Shit. Shit. Shit.
I reached under the toilet and turned the knob with frantic fingers. The water stopped flowing. I grabbed a handful of rags from under the sink. I was sopping up Lake Michigan with a sponge.
I flew down to the basement for towels and there was more water—pouring through the ceiling, out of the light fixtures and onto the bookshelves and wall-to-wall carpet.
I grabbed baskets of laundry, old curtains, a sleeping bag. I threw everything on the wet carpet. I was a whirling dervish, stomping on towels with my bare feet, grabbing stacks of books to wipe them dry, switching on dehumidifiers and fans.
Connor came downstairs to help carrying a roll of toilet paper. He wadded it into little balls to catch drips from the ceiling. (Weeks later, I was still peeling his spitballs off my books and walls.)
Moments later, wet drywall—isn’t that an oxymoron?— crumbled and the light fixture was dangling from the wiring.
I called my husband on speed dial. No answer, but, moments later, a text: “I’m giving my talk. Is it an emergency?”
Apparently, I’m not so bad in a crisis. Less than an hour later, the kids were snuggled in bed watching Scooby. The house was damp but drying out. The light fixture was still dangling, but I was on the phone with one of the world’s top chefs.
Yes, my kids ate yogurt for dinner that night. In front of a screen. But I felt like the greatest chef in the world. Well, almost as great as Grant Achatz.