Dear Spring Friends and Family,
Many of you have been following this blog since before the first Spring ever opened. The first Spring was a total anomaly and an exciting adventure that doesn't seem to be slowing down. At the time I started writing and taking pictures I was married, had a few euro dollars in my pocket from my first job as a chef and no idea what I was getting myself into. Seems as though nothing as changed. Out went the marriage and the euro bucks, but I still have no idea what I am getting myself into.
After two years of cooking at the first Spring, I began remodeling a former skateboard shop and optimistically announced an opening date that I can't even remember. Why close a fabulously successful restaurant? Lots of reasons, really. And a whole lot of questions. What does it mean to be successful? Do we enjoy what we are doing? Is it really a restaurant if you have to wait five months for the next available table? How can we improve the experience for our customer?
For ourselves? Can both improvements be made at the same time? Is this the kind of place we like to go? Is this a passing fad or do we actually know what the hell we're doing?
The only thing I am sure of is that there is nothing to be sure of.
Especially when you think you know what you're doing there is always something more to learn.
The principal behind Spring's ever changing menu is that every day is an empty page and tomorrow is an opportunity to improve on yesterday's mess. Why not make a picture or a poem that someone else might enjoy? The temporality of enjoyment, pleasure and satisfaction requires constant attention, adjustment, reflection... Today's langoustines are different than today's langoustines tomorrow or even tomorrow's langoustines tomorrow. Products are important but so is everything else. Our mood, the time of year, the weather... The best dinners we've ever made were ones where everything was in a sort of pretty synchronization. The worst dinners (and their have been some bad ones) usually were problems that began with the ingredients not being at their best which lead to us feeling rotten and uninspired and unable to find any sort of solution that might please the customer or ourselves. I remember (and cringe) at a certain Jarret de Veau and a Lieu Jaune that make me want to turn off the lights and hide in a closet. The point of the new restaurant is to give us the tools to make our best efforts more frequent - fewer ups and downs. More of our energy in the right places. The last restaurant was vibrantly precarious and cooking there was a colossal effort which no doubt took away from the customers' experience.
I suppose the short story is that I like to create problems and then try to find an elegant solution. The cases of fresh produce and fish and meat that arrive in the restaurant every morning creates a certain tension that needs to be resolved before the customers arrive. The same process is at work on a different scale as I try to imagine a business model that actually works, is sustainable and creates happy employees, a satisfied boss and most importantly, satisfied customers.
I'm not saying that we always get it right, but we do our best to always give the best we can.
The point of this business is, after all, to please.
One of the best parts of the last few years and quite surely the last 30 years is the day when Marie walked into the restaurant to have dinner. My world turned on its head for the better. There is no question that I find most of my energy for these projects in her love. I am endlessly inspired by her talent, sensitivity, beauty, modesty and her capacity to put up with me. It would be a bit over the top to say that I can't do anything without her, but it would be perfectly true to say that I don't want to do anything without her. Everyone should be so lucky to find such a perfect partner.
On July 4, it will be nearly two years since I began working on the renovation of a former skateboard shop in the first arrondissement. Since then, I've closed Spring, opened Table 28, closed and sold Table 28 (the old Spring), and opened a Spring Boutique that is frequently confused with the old restaurant, the new restaurant and a lobster sandwich joint that we began running last summer at the old space.
Having trouble following? Me too.
If everything continues to go according to plan the new restaurant could be opened before my next birthday.
Today, the construction is actually only a few weeks behind schedule. Most of the delays were administrative. The construction site was dormant for about 8 months while we were waiting for the city's blessing. Since receiving approval last October, we haven't stopped banging, chopping, painting, digging and dreaming...
Being a cook is hard work. Being a chef is a whole different set of problems. General contractor, CEO, PR, accountant... It's a good thing it is no longer a 'one man chaud'. SPRING is now a team of interesting and talented people.
Marie, Josh, Fabien, Sofian', Ola and another Daniel (if he gets his working papers in order) and I are all eager to start serving you again in our digs as soon as we can.
Thank you all for your fidelity, patience and especially your 'gourmandise'.
A tres bientot,