Things have been happening left and right, but the most memorable happened last Wednesday. I sincerely mean it when I say it was one of the best nights of my life.

Avec was closed for regular service that Wednesday due to a buyout. Some company wanted our time and services for the night and were apparently willing to pay a massive amount of money to do so, and so we’d known about the event for a couple of weeks now, with Armanzo, Elliot, Katie and I working it. It was just that until I came into work that day, I didn’t know what to expect. The guests were coming in at 5, but I was scheduled to come in at 2; did that mean we’d still prep a little for tomorrow? How much of our stations should we set up? How much food will 40 people eat? And so on. But Armanzo and Elliot had at least already decided how much food to put out and that was a start. Now it was all a matter of getting some food prepped out (toasting fideo, pre-filling cazuelas, etc.) and some food to start a la minute (searing off steaks, roasting fish, cooking pasta).

It ended up being hands down one of the easiest nights ever. The boys and Katie upstairs on the line and me downstairs putting things away and setting up shoulder, etc. Everyone was happy (except I was a little dismayed that hardly anyone touched the salumi boards I’d put out earlier. That’s a lot of sliced meat that could’ve gone to a better cause ;_;… oh well, no use crying over that sliced meat now), and better still, since it ended so early (10:30pm) we all were going out to the Pump Room for dinner!

I’d heard of the Pump Room but didn’t really know much about it. I should’ve guessed something was up when Armanzo came out all changed and looking muy suave, with Italian shoes and a dress shirt and not his usual garb of cap/tee/sneakers, while Elliot was shining up his boots. All I can say is thank goodness I’d decided to wear a skirt that day and not my jeans and Chucks because when we got out of the cab and stood in front of the Public Hotel and I saw the (suave-looking) valets… I knew I’d entered a different world entirely. I suppressed the urge to run away (and come back with a Prada dress or something) and steeled myself by telling myself that class is carriage and a state of mind.

We ordered a bunch of starters and cocktails and once the staff found out we were from Avec, started throwing food our way. The food was fine (the tuna tartare and beet salad were good; I liked the crab toast; others needed more salt/acid). At some point, newest hire Paula seemingly crashed the party which silently freaked out Elliot enough to text Marcus to join the outing (it was actually Katie who had informed Paula of our whereabouts). Whatever, it was probably a good thing we had so many people because we had a lot of food at out table.
But the food wasn’t the highlight of the night. It was the people I was with and the experience of it all that will forever stay a great memory for me. Gathered round the table were people I love/respect/admire and the fact that I could bond with them outside of work thrilled me. Getting to talk with Katie since we have little opportunity to do so was awesome, as was silently marveling that Armanzo was looking a lot more like Ryan Gosling when he dolls up. I would sneak glances at Elliot’s table manners because I was secretly scared I was eating things wrong (do I eat this flatbread with my hands or should I use a knife and fork?) so I used him as my guide.

In the lounge we had more drinks and shared more stories. Armanzo has had a life chock full of experience, to say the least. I bought Marcus a drink and was temporarily infatuated with one of the bartenders. We stayed until they switched off the music and turned the lights up on us.

I surprised myself a little by agreeing when Katie suggested we enjoy the night a little longer and so Marcus, Elliot, Katie and I headed to Armanzo’s friend’s new bar, Barrelhouse Flat. The place is beautiful. I am in awe. We hung out upstairs and stayed til the place shut down.

I didn’t get home til 4AM. It was totally worth it.

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