This morning I left my little town and my little Bistro to go search for something: something real, something authentic, something true. Over the years we have been able to build something truely amazing in our little town of Livingston. The Second Street Bistro and The Murray Bar have become these wonderful little fixtures in Downtown. And now we are setting off to build something new (in a very old building), something that I feel will become very important in our little town. So I am setting off to Europe for five weeks to try to understand what exactly it is that I am trying to build. I am returning to Europe, where over a decade ago I first stumbled upon the idea for The Second Street Bistro while driving over the Alps from Nice to Alba. We stopped in this little town on the Italian side of the Alps and I had one the most memorable meals of my life. The food was not overly refined, nor the service polished but it was authentic, it was real. It was a husband and wife and a large fire and rotessierie with simple wine and honest fare and it was packed. I thought to myself, why is it that every small town in America (that is not completely tourist driven: i.e. Jackson Hole and Aspen) has a really poor quality of food. Drive across Montana and you are confronted with frozen chicken fried steaks, canned gravies, hamburgers and ranch dressing. So I hatched this plan to do something real in a real town using local products from local producers and to see how far we could push the envelope. Thanks to the amazing support our little town (and of course Bozeman) has given us it has worked beyond my most far fetched imagination.
This morning I left a place that I understand completely. At the Bistro, I know how much salt to put into my sauces. I also know the locations of all the places where we keep salt in the bistro for service. In addition, I know where we keep back ups of salt in the basement and when we run out of salt, I know where to order more. When that guy brings my salt I know how to cut a check to pay him. As of this morning I left all that. I am flying to a continent that is so much older than mine is, where a building built in 1893 is not considered old. I don’t speak the languages (except through food) and I have brought no maps, no guidebooks and no set plans, so that this could be a real adventure. A Chef searching for the Authentic. A real adventure with a real goal, which by defintion is a quest. I am so stoked to get to go on a quest. Next stop Barcelona.