It’s no secret that I have always enjoyed pastry chef Jeff McCarthy’s work at Ten-01.
I was catching up on reading the other day and came upon this post, which I thought was very poignant. It’s about the closing of Ten-01. I asked him if I could post it here.
“We used to joke around in the kitchen about how nice it will be when someone finally writes a review for Ten-01 that didn’t mention it’s rocky start. The highly anticipated opening followed by the complete panning, the splashy new place with kangaroo rump on the menu. Fast forward to a year or so later, Jack Yoss shows up and starts throwing down some of the best food this town was eating. In the following two years, he builds a kitchen crew like none other that I’ve worked with and turns the place around. During the busiest times, it was a fucking machine, churning out beautifully presented delicious food and serving amazing cocktails by Kelley Swenson. The beloved Erica Landon and her remarkable wine list, a staff that cared about each other; about what they were doing, and it reflected in the service. Some not too shabby pastries plated pleasantly by yours truly. Oh, the salad days, the best of times at the best restaurant in town. At least that’s what we all thought. We wanted to make a special place, and those who experienced it knew that it was.
Two and some odd years later the restaurant is closed, doors locked and shades are drawn. No one who survived those salad days was surprised. At least no one who took a second to look around and think: how does this place stay open night after night while doing only sixty or seventy covers? A place that size, in that location, serving the world-class cuisine paired with an award-winning wine list, killer cocktails by people who actually cared about what they were doing, that shit all costs money, folks. Money that Portlanders weren’t willing to spend. The two Chefs who followed Jack tried desperately to give Portland “Fine Diners” what they wanted, wondering why P.F. Chang’s up the street is packed for lunch and dinner day after day. Wondering why mediocre burger joints have a line around the block as their cooks slave to brunoise veg that may never get eaten. A Michelin trained chef making corn dogs and basket after basket of truffle fries. The details of the closure are unimportant, at least in my eyes. The best explanation I got was read not on the web, twitter, facebook, eaterPdx or Food Dude. It was read it in the eyes of the hardworking owner. A profound sense of loss and shame, a sorrow too deep for words. His eyes groped for words that would not come, could not, but they searched the now empty, dusty corners of the place anyway, searching among piles of boxes amidst dejected looking cooks trying to find their pairing knife or quenelle spoon in the carnage. It would be so easy to rage at the higher-ups, to point and shout “WHY?!” But when I really ask why, I have to ask: Why was my paycheck paid every time? Why did the powers that be dump money onto a project that was clearly flailing? Why did they see fit to keep the doors open in these impossible economic times? Presented with those questions I can only look inside, as any staff member of Ten-01 should. Why did we stay open? Why did our investors keep paying us, month after month? Because they believed. The had faith in a solid, happy, loyal crew. Ten-01 was a prodigy child raised by a mother that did not want it, a fine dining experience in a city overrun by food carts and happy hours. You can’t get world-class at a Busch league price, folks. Most of you will never try Chef Michael’s sous vide tempura egg or his fucking perfect charcuterie. Wine that may never grace anyone’s lips collects dust in an unmarked warehouse. One of the most beautiful rooms in the state now stands empty, a cavernous tomb being carved up for scrap.
To all the great people I worked with at Ten-01, I will truly miss you. More of a family style work environment I will probably never find. I wish you all the best in the days to come. Let’s all pool our unemployment checks and throw a ripper of a party. Let us celebrate the closing of one of life’s chapters as we turn to the next. I for one will look back on the past three years with a smile; I had it good in the Pearl and so did ya’ll.”
Dude, it’s a bodice ripper!
Baking tips from Sylvia Plath
Oscar Wilde throwing himself onto a divan.
It’s an Onion parody.
I’ll give him credit for giving props
‘Two and some odd years later ‘ Lincoln
‘His eyes groped for words that would not come’ Dali
‘a prodigy child raised by a mother that did not want it’ Shelly
‘they searched the now empty, dusty corners of the place anyway, searching among piles of boxes amidst dejected looking cooks trying to find their pairing knife or quenelle spoon in the carnage. It would be so easy to rage at the higher-ups, to point and shout “WHY?!”
Who is Kurt Vonnaget? for $400 Alex
No, the correct answer is ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’
so it goes…
‘Wine that may never grace anyone’s lips collects dust in an unmarked warehouse.’ Uhhm, The Bible?
‘One of the most beautiful rooms in the state now stands empty, a cavernous tomb being carved up for …A Michelin trained chef making corn dogs and basket after basket of truffle fries. Herb Cain three dot re-edit…
Shall I go on?
Way to trivialize a heartfelt piece about a tragic and remarkable event that affected dozens of people who were as close as family. Your rudeness makes me really sad.
‘tragic and remarkable’?
‘days of our lives’?
Restaurants open,and close.
Birth, Salad days, happy hour, Death.
Food Dude says
sure dude, sure…
didn’t realize you had a dog in the fight…
Speaking of hyperbole…….
Dude, get over your nasty self!
We shall call you Influence Sleuth! I would love to read your analysis of The Simpsons! So much being ripped off in that completely unoriginal show.
LOL at “Baking tips from Sylvia Plath”
Now MY bodice has a tear in it.
I’d have to agree with sidemeat on this one. (too funny, btw).
The blog post struck me as just an overly dramatic recap of what happens at any business closure. Sure, it’s sad, yes, a loss to owner and employees alike, but in this case, borderline humorous in it’s excesses of pain and pathos.
An excess of pain and pathos my arse.
Sad is when the goldfish you won at the fair dies two days later. It’s a bit more than that when you and your entire team live and breath something 24 hours a day.
So far it looks like he nailed it at the end of the penultimate paragraph.
Agreed. Meat’s response was a bit over the top, but this is just unnecessary hyperbole.
I remember reading this on Jeff’s blog when he originally posted it and thinking it was eerily reminiscent of how I felt when LaLuna closed. It perfectly evokes the sweetly sentimental, lamenting, and grateful mood that, those of us who were ever a part of something special, can understand.
We are family……many of us are transplants who enjoy this business. Some of us has the balls to go out make something happen…….it’s sad when it doesn’t work out for WHATEVER reason. I prefer to celebrate the memory of the many fine meals I had under the last two chefs.
The problem with this culinary scene is people like side-meat – and there are so many. Look people, we are advancing a million miles an hour towards a boring, sterile, pathetic food scene. If we truly are what we eat, it will be the future of our city. Cheap, fast and easy. Burger joints and happy hours, and we make a big deal about this like its great, we bark like dogs without bite! We go through the motions pretending we have something great but not caring enough to create or support it. Its like sitting down with an amazing riedel glass and pouring carlo rossi into it. Then we look around and show the others that we are drinking wine, take a sip and throw the rest down the drain when no one is looking. Then we leave the party and open a can of bush! Cheers!
‘People like side-meat’? yes, well.
One is too many.
We don’t have riedel glasses I’m guessing,
and if we see tragic loss in the closing of any restaurant
it’s most likely to be in the form of a dishwasher or prep
that’s going to have genuine difficulties paying the rent
and feeding the kids
until another gig comes up.
Oh pish posh, you say, what counts is the loss to the greater Portland reputation in the culinary world…
unappreciated artistic visionaries have a long history of relying upon patrons
who have riedel glasses,
and support the artists vision
unloved as it is by the masses that do not comprehend
nor can afford
when what we want is a meal.
Perhaps the problem is too few Audreys?
(btw, sidemeat is flying w/o spellcheck, Herb Caen in earlier post)
‘sidemeat, the trouble with this culinary scene’
Ooooooh, I’ve been resisting the urge to join this foie gras slinging fest, but I’m pretty irritated by how dramatic people get about failure. There’s a subtle difference between caring deeply about your job or business and the point at which “you and your entire team live and breath something 24 hours a day.” Chances are, if that’s the case, you might not see what’s in front of your eyes. I applaud Adam for trying something different in Portland. He took a chance on something, mabye made some mistakes, seems to have learned a lot, and has moved on. As the spouse of someone who recently closed a business, I agree with Sidemeat. It ain’t the end of the world, folks. Regardless of shitty luck, failed banks, trusting the wrong people, and everything else you can mope about, if you take the time to get real about your past business decisions, you’ll be ready for the next round in no time. Losing a business is like one of those bathroom mirrors that magnify every flaw when you turn them over. It doesn’t mean you’re not pretty…
Personally, I love how it is Portland’s fault that ten-01 failed because we are too cheap and don’t appreciate them. Maybe the lesson they should learn should be to go re-open someplace else.
Thank you, Ten-01, for attempting to give PDX the “fine dining” that it so sorely needs. Whatever shall we do now that you are gone..??
Crap! there’s nowhere to go and blow $150 per person anymore!
Oh wait- YES THERE IS! We have a crapload of great restaurants here!!
Personally I find this whole thing gratuitous and condescending.
With all the amazing restaurants that have been shut down in the last few years… c’mon…. ugh…
Agree with Kolibri and Onetart.
All this drama and blame reminds me of when con man, malingerer, and all-around jerk “Chef” Hurley blamed Portland for his restaurant’s failure. We weren’t ready for his “sophistication” or some such drivel.
Get over yourselves.
It is really too bad that people have chosen to take a piece of writing written from the gut, by a truly nice guy and a great pastry chef, and turn it into some sort of weird drama and petty criticism.
Not judging the guy or the intent- just the actual content.
Sorry- the reply button not working for me apparently…
For years now, dining out in Portland has been a near-daily pleasure for me. It is disheartening that we lack a home run high end to round out all the other splendid offerings we have here. I have my unprovable theories about why this is, but some of the comments above tend to support them. Whatever the reasons, I hate having to travel out of town to get what ought to be sustainable in Portland with the abundance of amazing raw products that surround us.
I’ll stay out of the writing style battle, but I understand a bit of McCarthy’s frustration.
I guess I prefer to eat my home grown, local food in a simpler way. I don’t understand the need for the fancy trappings of something nicer than Paley’s or Castagna. You can easily drop a few bills at either place if dollars determine the extent of your satisfaction. The difference between those restaurants and the larger, more flashy ones that have not survived? No gold plated fixtures in the bathrooms? Less than 100 seats? Didn’t spend $2.5 million on the buildout? Or is it that they’re making wonderful food that makes their customers happy rather than worrying about what kind of cooking makes them happy? It’s one thing to have the ego if it’s attached to a sound business plan. Without it, you just have a pretty (and often empty) restaurant. You know, some of my most memorable meals in Portland were in the early days of Tabla. Quality ingredients and simple preparations at one hell of a fabulous price. If you’re going to knock Portlanders for appreciating that, you might want to keep an open table at El Buli.
You realize you just put Castagna in that “simpler” food category, our only place whose menu, top to bottom, makes use of so-called “molecular gastronomy”, right? ;-)
I don’t think anyone has knocked Portlanders for appreciating simple food with quality ingredients. I think what some, such as myself, have lamented is that Portlanders’ seem to be narrow-palated despite thinking of themselves as worldly and adventurous. Afterall, it’s not just spendy, upscale restaurants such as Ten-01 or Fin which have closed. I saw my favorite downtown restaurant (yes, even more than K&Z) close in this last year: Taste of Jakarta. Nothing over $10, food very authentic and simple, better than what I got on the streets of Yogyakarta. Meanwhile, Malay Satay Hut also closed, leaving us no option for Malay/Indonesian food, while, by my estimates, we now have a Thai restaurant for every Starbucks and three pubs for every man, woman, or child. Everyone I took to Taste of Jakarta loved it, even friends who are scared to travel with me to Mexico and keep their fridge stocked with Velveeta “Cheese”. Despite multiple positive reviews in the papers, people just weren’t willing to even try the place — at least not enough to keep it going. But we’re so adventurous! We have food carts where we stuff our sandwiches with french fries!
The Portland dining scene would be a better place if Portlanders would open their minds, palates, and wallets. It just would. Being dogmatic, parochial, or prejudiced differently is still being dogmatic, parochial, or prejudiced. That a Portlander would avoid good food because a place has a modern feel and a maitre d’ with a tie is no better than the person who avoids a place because there are too many hipsters.
Audrey is right. The dining scene, while contracting, is also narrowing. While I’m not sure it matters what it’s narrowing to, it does matter that it’s narrowing. It does matter that we haven’t supported a quality seafood restaurant. It does matter that there’s not a restaurant in Portland we can count on for perfect execution and perfect service. It does matter that entire cuisines have been lost from the landscape.
I had some absolutely wonderful meals at Ten-01. And in the last year I had one of the top few dishes I ate that year there, as well. I love street food, ethnic food, places I can go in shorts and a hoodie, local ingredients, seasonal ingredients, 30-seaters where I can watch the chef work. But I also really loved Ten-01 and will miss it. I also loved Fin and will miss it.
I think what most of the detractors are missing here is that Jeff wrote this in a time of mourning. Obviously everyone picks their pathos up and tucks it away after they’ve had a good cry. But to cast stones at someone’s openness about how sad they are in that moment—hyperbolic as it may be—seems to convey a complete ignorance of the grieving process. I say shame on shaming a man in mourning.
If there’s anything to say about the failure of Ten-01 as a restaurant, I think it’s that the passion of a good crew cannot save the inflexibility of the ship.
Perfectly said, Microfoam. Ten-01 was one of our favorite places as well and I can well see how its sudden demise could result in the sort of emotions that Jeff freely shared in his blog, pathos and all. I’m also not surprised at Sidemeat’s response… so typical of a lot of the wordy, cynical, and undecipherable bunk he loves to post here. I am disappointed, though, at how many people seem to agree him and are willing to trash someone for openly sharing what has to be a pretty emotional moment and legitimate feeling of loss for something they helped build. Thanks FD for linking to the blog and posting it here.
Not everyone on here is dismissing him for his ridiculous writing style- I can appreciate openness and heartfelt sadness. And I sympathize with him!
I have a problem with the blame game. Obviously there were problems with the restaurant- NOT THE CUSTOMERS. If you do not cater to your local population then you have a problem. Perhaps he is bitter about this. And in a way I can understand his frustration. But to insult the city you opened your restaurant in by implying that it simply does not have the CLASS to APPRECIATE you is egotistical and condescending. Know your audience and give them what they want or you will not get the support you need. Simple as that.
What Microfoam said. I won’t pretend to be completely objective here; I know Jeff as a friend, and I support him as the passionate, dedicated pastry chef that I know him to be. But beyond that, he is someone who simply loves food and takes every possible opportunity to share that with whomever he might cross paths with.
I am surprised that so many folks cavalierly dismiss his open, honest expression of loss and appreciation. Seriously? Are you really completely devoid of compassion? Go ahead and flex your hipster detachment. I for one am grateful he had the courage to articulate his feelings and celebrate his Ten-01 experience.
or maybe, just maybe, a few of us have BEEN THROUGH THIS BEFORE and react how many industry people do when faced with adversity: snark and sarcasm. I’m sure if Jeff is reading these comments he’s probably laughing at Sidemeat’s dead-on deconstruction of his blog post. I know I would be.
A bit of advice: If you want to live vicariously through your food heroes, grow a brass pair and some thick skin, because you’re going to need both to fully appreciate the experience. Otherwise you come off confused, bewildered and butthurt and that’s no way to go through life.
I’m not sure who that advice was for, but I don’t see how cojones grandes and a thick skin are mutually exclusive of compassion or honest expression.
That blog post wasn’t written for this website; FD asked if he could reprint it. Jeff was simply journaling his emotional experience of an event that had a big effect on his career and life. I’d bet that when he wrote it, he had no expectation of it ever reaching a wider audience, as it seems a paean of sorts to his time there and his co-workers.
Joisey is absolutely right- snark and sarcasm is the way of the industry. It’s also the way of the internet. It’s easy to forget there are real human beings on the other end of these words. It’s easy to pass judgment and insult when you don’t have to look the person in the eye and stand behind what you say in front of a group of observers. I doubt very much that Sidemeat (or anyone else) would walk up to Jeff in public and say to his face what was written here with no hesitations. If you tell me you would, then I tell you I can and will arrange it.
Snark and sarcasm does not always equal clever. Sometimes, it’s just kind of douche-y to kick a man when he’s down, no matter how eloquently you do it.
Lur Kerr says
Beautifully written. Captures the feeling of the death of a dream perfectly. Cathartic, even, for those of us who have built and subsequently lost a restaurant of our own. There is no greater pain than letting your employees down. Thank You for posting FD.
The stress of maintaining a life that is devoid of passion and joy is epidemic. It’s not just business when the dreamer stops dreaming. There is always the option of retreating back into the safety of our mind but to the dreamer, this feels like death. Some dreams last longer than others – to all the good folks at Ten-01, keep your dreams alive!! Your serving more than just food.
Pearl District says
Here’s what sad. Both Heidi Yorkshire with Willamette Weekly and Karen Brooks of the Oregonian tore this restaurant apart (probably deservedly given its early failures) early on–but neither of these publications ever had the decency to revisit the place and give it another chance once the restaurant had improved. Thanks to you Food Dude for giving it another chance.
To be fair, that’s not entirely true. I believe it was named a “stand-out” in Diner at least once, plus called “comeback of the year” once, listed among the “best restaurants in the Pearl”, etc, etc, in the Oregonian. I imagine there were similar accolades in Willamette Week once they turned things around.