Though it’s been addressed to your general info-at-Prune address, I am hoping this email will land in your hands. If so, then it may also not be the first email you’ve seen from me—you likely received one sometime in early March, inquiring about a job at Prune. Just a few short months ago, I never could have guessed how tormentingly ironic that inquiry would be.
As I mentioned in that untimely email, I was (and hope to soon again be) a Friday Lunch regular at Prune. I am a restaurant manager as well as a self-proclaimed food writer, only just starting to make a name for myself among the city’s many, many editors. After several failed attempts at the lifestyle of an editorial intern, I have found myself inadvertently plunged deep into the beautiful mess that is the restaurant industry—and I simply don’t see a way out.
I realize you of course do not know me, which may make this all seem a bit strange. In the most basic terms, I am a huge fan of yours, which I realize may also be an odd thing to outwardly admit. I have cooked from your recipes and read (and re-read) your book, meticulously underlining sentences and drawing brackets around near entire pages of text. To say I am incredibly inspired by your work would be an understatement.
As a young queer woman in the food industry, strong role models remain few and far between. Nowhere else have I seen myself represented so clearly and powerfully as in your writing. Reading your words has helped me to find my own; seeing your vision has made mine clearer.
Never in my life did I think I would want to own a restaurant. Friends and family have asked me for years, and I’ve always laughed off the idea as a risky and impossible endeavor. I don’t know the first thing about comparing insurance policies or fixing a broken lowboy. And yet, despite the complete and total uncertainty of our world, I am suddenly more confident than ever that I want to own a restaurant.
Inside of it I picture large communal tables and a dinner-party style menu based on fresh, local produce. I imagine a rooftop garden, or even a farm outside of the city, a small but meaningful step towards the closed loop agricultural systems that have the potential to revive and sustain our entire food supply chain. I see a more affordable approach to the modern ‘farm to table’ concept, in which the average diner can experience the power and beauty of a sustainable food system without paying Blue Hill at Stone Barns prices. I envision a dining room that welcomes everybody, and encourages them to appreciate the value of a simple shared meal.
In reading your most recent New York Times article, I started to see this image taking form. For the first time in a long time, it actually seemed possible. This perhaps sounds counterintuitive when considering the industry wide collapse which we are still living through. However, in a world far off in the post-pandemic future, I see a restaurant industry that is changed for the better.
What I would like to do now is redact that previous email and replace it with a new proposal. I am not looking for a job—I am looking for a role model.
I am looking for someone who understands the power of food, and its unique ability to bring us all together. I am looking for someone who values honest work and deep, pit-of-your-stomach passion. I am looking for someone who dismisses the entire relevance of gender in a kitchen and who creates an environment where hard work and good character are the only measures of merit. I am looking for the best chef in New York City, period.
I’m sure you have plenty on your plate at the moment without someone throwing wordy emails your way. I also realize the nature of this inquiry may be ultimately impossible in the current moment, as much remains uncertain about the months to come. I don’t imagine many restaurants will have open job applications available for quite some time, and that is okay, but if there is any situation in which you would consider lending me your experience and expertise—even just over an email, or a cup of coffee sipped at a responsible distance—it would mean the world.
As you sit behind the papered windows of Prune and ponder the next manifestation of the restaurant industry, I wonder if there is any room in it for someone like me. If there is, please let me know.
All the best,
Sent May 7th, 2020