A few months ago we watched this documentary called "I Like Killing Flies." It's a bad title for something great (like with Mad Men) but it's about a restaurant in Greenwich Village and the guy who runs it, and some people say he's who the Soup Nazi is based on. We loved the documentary and then last week I got his book (at Carrie's recommendation), his book is called Eat Me and I read it all right away.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book -
"Customers in this country have been raised to believe that they are "always right." Their neuroses are coddled and their misbehaviors are tolerated for their patronage and their money by every restaurateur in America. But not by me. My approach at Shopsin's is the exact opposite of "the customer is always right." Until I know the people, until they show me that they are worth cultivating as customers, I'm not even sure I want their patronage."
"The brilliance of my restaurant is my ability to control my clientele. The thing that makes my restaurant special is my relationships and interactions with my customers—and the way they relate and interact with one another. With the wrong people here, those interactions don't happen, so to keep the wrong people out when I don't like them. I probably axe at least one party every day—and usually more than that."
"I enjoy cooking and giving what I can to my customers, and, in turn, my customers don't just enjoy giving me money, they enjoy receiving what I have given them. Once we've established a rapport, we're absolute equals in my restaurant. But I guess I shouldn't expect newcomers to understand this. In all fairness, they're right and I'm the asshole, because my way is hardly the traditional you-give-me-the-money-I-give-you-a-bagel. I want more from them. I want a relationship."
"I had an employee working for me named Jimmy, a skinny, dynamic, diabetic black guy with a Sammy Davis Jr. face. Jimmy had a girlfriend named Elaine who was really fat. When the Health Department came out with new regulations, I sent her down to take the inspections course for me. I hated the Health Department even back then. I think I'd rather go out of business than take that fucking course. People said "How can you have her take the test for you? She can't pass for you." But she was perfect. Who the hell is going to ask a 300-pound black lady if she's Kenny Shopsin?"
"Bacon pancakes remind me of pussy. When you press the cooked bacon into the raw pancake batter, it really likes to sink in. When you flip the pancakes back to serve them bacon side up, the bacon is in there, enveloped by soft walls. It's really very sexy."
"I used to make turkey dinners every day. My beautiful turkeys were everything that fresh food could be. Sadly, it is now a thing of the past, because one day, some prick from the Health Department came in, looked at the turkey sitting up there on its shelf, and said, "Is it 140 or 40?" meaning over 140 degrees or under 40 degrees. It's the law. Everything in a restaurant has to be either super fucking hot or super fucking cold. Well, it wasn't either. It was sitting out at room temperature as it did every day. Nobody ever got sick from my turkey or anything else in my restaurant. But the Health Department took that gorgeous brown juicy Norman Rockwell bird, threw it in the trash, and poured Palmolive on it. . . I like to think I won my battle with those Health Department pricks, because I am still doing what I like to do."
"I often compare my ideas about cooking to the children's book "Goodnight Moon" where the little boy discovers that everything he needs is in his life already, right in his own room. In a Goodnight Moon world, it's pretty easy to be a good home cook. It's really not about having some terrific skills or exotic ingredients or expensive equipment, or even the right recipe. To be a good cook, to turn out good, honest food that satisfies your individual tastes, it is all about having the kind of confidence and self-awareness that comes from Goodnight Moon living, in which you are happy with what is already in your life."