In the past few weeks, I effected—and was affected by—a coup d’etat. I was both the usurper and the usurped. I survived victoriously.
I want to spend a few entries on this, to explore what happened and why, and how the benefits will likely far exceed my own expectations.
First, the basic facts: I resigned my position as Executive Chef at an Asheville institution. The reasons were numerous, and all centered upon ethics. I can’t identify a single shared ethic between the owners and me, and I found myself in an uncomfortable dilemma: either compromise my own ethics and continue to represent the café, or resign. Accepting Shakespeare’s encouragement to be true to myself, I chose the latter. It’s much easier to sleep at night that way.
Ethics are a serious matter, and so often we find ourselves in situations that violate ours. My patience with such scenarios has dwindled to zero, and though it poses financial risk, I am content with my chosen solution.
Now for the punch line: I didn’t just resign. I repurposed myself to the role of bread baker. I abdicated the command post so that I could be a worker. It’s a change that I am proud of. I vacated a compromising position, and took on a role that allows me, daily, to look at the products of my honest day’s work. I go home a little tired from the physical movement, feeling in my muscles the accumulation of lifting and kneading. I spend my work hours in meditative craftsmanship. I go home and sleep an honest round of sleep.
Like Moses leaving the Pharaoh’s palace to join his people in the brickyards, I feel at home among the workers in the kitchen. We are kindred. I have always identified with them, for in my DNA I am one of them. I am happy as I rediscover the joy of making food, of using my hands, of smelling fresh bread as it develops through so many stages.
I see it from so many kaleidoscopic angles. Each image illuminates the coup, providing greater depth to both the action and the reaction, confirming the gut feel that I have done the right thing.
More to come.