Tuesday is an exciting day in the Nopa kitchen for two reasons: It’s typically a slower day, which allows the cooks a chance to recover and refocus. And better yet, it’s a market day. Market days mean a flood of new produce to taste and play with. There’s an energy that surges through the kitchen on these days, setting a nice tone for the next few days.
Unless you’re Laurence Jossel, Nopa’s chef and co-owner [and 7x7's Hot 20 pick last year]. Today is his 16th day in a row. His time has been split between Nopa, Nopalito, several off site events—and a ten month old baby. Sitting down with him to go over the days menu, he’s mostly quiet. He’s on five hours of sleep, has already been to market and is in need of Blue Bottle Coffee. As we near the end of our meeting, I review the prep list I’ve written for myself. My day looks busy; I want to take on as much as I can to help Chef.
Suddenly though—like a jolt of electricity has jolted through him—Laurence stands up with a smile and says, “Alright, let’s go!” I’m slow to get out of my chair, and by the time I have my knives out, he is already peeling vegetables. As the prep period goes on, Laurence plows through his list, plays with his son, takes phone calls and meets with cooks. His sudden explosion of energy is almost daunting to me. Where does it come from? How can he be smiling? I work through the day, trying to keep up.
It’s a rare enough thing to have a chef that actually cooks in his kitchen, but to have one that does so with a smile is almost unheard of. Being around this is inspiring, confusing and motivational. I’m left hoping that one day, when I become an executive chef, I can muster half his energy.