early blossoms greet/ old towering evergreens/ back 2 work 4 me!  

February 22nd, 2015, 10am

Long ago and faraway, there was a chef who hit a dead end, injured, beat up, down to his last dollar…despite a glittering career as a head spinning artist of soul food, he couldn’t go on. Luckily, since this guy was me, I was able to return to a place I’d never been as the battered Prodigal Son to my family all the way across the nation, leaving behind with a heavy heart all the tropicalia, the Creole crossroads of the Dirty South; and lemme tell you, saying farewell to the grooves and gracious ghosts who conjure the wildness at the pulsating soul of New Orleans wasn’t easy, isn’t easy, nothing about leaving New Orleans is ever easy.

It was a year ago from today, when finally I am able to write this haiku, a year ago that I had my first total knee surgery to replace my Humpty Dumpty self’s left wheel that I grievously hurt slipping off a French Quarter curb in a driving rainstorm from a pesky tropical storm days before I hit the 50 year old racing tape. I limped into my Fifties, but ineffectively, destroying the right wheel, too, as the orthopedist told me I had the knees of an 80 yr old sentenced to work a chain gang his whole life; and now exactly a year later from my foray into becoming bionic (well, really it feels more like sawdust and puppetry and a trip to the hardware store for a pair of new knee hinges), I’m getting back into my métier— that of alchemy, fire, and the process of chasing the delicious.

It was a long haul, and a year when Hi.co came in handy to keep the puppet inside me alive and “wishing upon a star.” So thank you all. I’m not sure I can adequately put my thanks into words beyond this elemental gratitude, so I’ll turn to Rumi for help:


It’s a habit of yours to walk slowly.
You hold a grudge for years.
With such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?

Be wide as the air to learn a secret.
Right now you’re equal portions clay
and water, thick mud.

Abraham learned how the sun and moon and the stars all set. He said, ”No longer will I try to assign partners for God.”

You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave
till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.
You’re trying to live your life in open scaffolding.
Say ”Bismillah, in the name of God,” as the priest does with a knife when he offers an animal.

Bismillah your old self
to find your real name.

—Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, pg. 70 of THE ESSENTIAL RUMI

Rachel, David Wade and Stephanie said thanks.

Share this moment

Chris DeBarr

Chef who believes in eating the world to save it. Wine & language & sharp knives are the tools of my métier. At heart, I'm a warm & fuzzy Dadaist.

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook