Sunday, 9 September 2018

Time passages

I was in Edmonton recently and took a friend to an Italian restaurant that I had been going to for years. I had not lived in the area for close to five years. The last time I was there to have a meal was about three years ago.

The place looked open. It was just as I remembered it. I got in the building and before I got to the door a janitor told me it was closed five months ago and the owner/chef died two months ago. I was little shocked to hear the news.

I knew the chef and owner on a first name basis. I had lived near Edmonton and worked in the city for about twenty years. I was married at the time, my wife and I discovered his restaurant, and we ended up spending far too many nights enjoying his great food. The office where I worked even held their Christmas parties there. If you ever pictured an Italian chef he was it.

If he liked you he would come to your table and serve you a round of peach grappa on the house while he sat at your table and spent a few minutes visiting. I had more than a few drinks with him through the years.

From what I found out about him through the years he was not always the greatest person. Not the best family man either. He also had a tendency to drink while he was cooking. The food though was important to him. I never had a poor meal or even average meal at his establishment. You never got on his bad side either. I was in his restaurant years ago when I noticed a couple who were regulars complaining that their food was taking too long. Word got back to him in the kitchen and he came out and yelled at them that good food takes time and asked them to leave. While he was removing them he told them to never come back. From what I heard they did come back a few days later and begged to be allowed to come to his restaurant again. Yes, the food was that good. I remember waiting a few times for what seemed like an eternity waiting for the food to arrive and never once complaining. If you wanted his food you learned to wait.

I once saw a waitress take a plate of food from the kitchen and serve it. Before the diner could pick up a utensil he stormed out of the kitchen and snatched the plate back. For whatever reason it was not ready and there was some yelling in the kitchen. The food went back out when it was ready. The turnover of wait staff was sometimes high. He had standards for his food and he was demanding. The kitchen was always spotless. You could see into the kitchen from the dining area to see for yourself.

His son has an Italian restaurant. We went there right after. It is not the same. The father never had discounted items on the menu, you paid a certain price and got great food. The son's place did have lower prices for certain items on certain nights. The food was good, just not as good as his father's place. I will miss him, he was unique.

My old haunts are dying off as well as some of the people I knew. Time changes things.


  1. Time does that.... it's sad when I start noticing.

  2. Some things can never be duplicated.

  3. It can be sad when things change. But oh, the memories!

  4. That's why we need to enjoy things in the here and now while we have them! Too bad about your chef friend.

    1. Something I should clarify. He was not my friend, just someone I knew.

  5. He sounds like quite the character.