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Food & Drink

Raised and devoured

I’ve been pretty low and overwhelmed dealing with the final crunch. My head is so full of fumes and anxiety that I haven’t been able to write anything worth posting here. I’ve been so focused on trying to get Union built that I have become disconnected from what “union” means; multiple trips to Home Depot and dealings with builders will do that to you. But as scattered and worn as I feel, the restaurant is looking and feeling really good. The horseshoe bar is built, and it floats off the wall so you can nestle in on one side, just like the horseshoe I remember in Paris. The floors are in, Josh’s lights are up and Barbara Klunder has painted a mural on a 35-foot wall. She is an artist and old family friend. I grew up with her stuff around my childhood house, and having her do something has brought the place together for me. It reminds me of the Chagall painting on the ceiling of the old Opera House in Paris. It’s inspiring, and it helps me look forward to what this place will become. I need to think beyond this build, and the gut-pinching feeling that comes with it. I need to see beyond the rubble, the garbage, the dirt, the drywall, the posturing, the money and the debt to what this place can become: a place that gathers life.

I think about the artist Gerald Murphy and the energy of his time in Paris, the way life seemed to gather around him, and the ease and flow and discovery he found in the everyday. I like to think about Union having that way about it, that everyday ease and flow, a refuge for good food and good wine, a platform for discovery and togetherness. I want to cook how he lived. Taking the everyday and striving to discover and connect to it, finding rhythm and art in it all and weaving great moments within it.

I keep thinking about all of this when I’m pacing the joint, waiting for somebody to show up. I think about when this place will open and what I want it to achieve. I think about driving down dirt roads and meeting farmers and bringing stuff back to the restaurant to cook. I am trying to visualize it happening; I see myself in the kitchen cooking the way I want to cook, bringing out the essence of what I bring in. That’s the connection I want—to be the medium between what is raised and what is devoured. Union is the stage, the setting, for that to happen.

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