One of the things you're famous for is serving power lunches at Lever House whereas The Regency is famous for power breakfasts. How different is that for you?
Hopefully we're going to be doing power lunches here, too.
And power dinners?
That is the goal.
And power drinks in the new Lobby Lounge?
We're in the process of rolling out some fun bar food. We have powerful drinks.
How early are you getting to work?
I'm usually here overseeing breakfast by 7:30 or 8. Power brokers are up early. I like to stay through dinner service but my body can't take it, being here till 11 at night. I'm trying to run a marathon, not a sprint.
I read in Crain's that some of your breakfast regulars want the same cereal -- Larry King likes Honey Nut Cheerios and another man likes plain Cheerios. Have you been stocking up on it?
That is part of the learning curve for us but yes, a fair amount of cereal.
Spike Lee has already returned to have breakfast there. Al Sharpton used to be another regular. Has he been in yet?
Yes, I've heard that but I'm not the person to talk to about it.
You're not out there working the tables?
I'm trying to make sure the plates that hit the tables all have what they want on them. Maybe at some point I'll be able to get out there and shake hands and kiss babies.
Did you have trouble finding enough good line cooks? I keep hearing there's a critical shortage.
It's not a new thing but the shortage is very, very apparent. There's a finite number of good cooks, which hasn't changed, but the number of restaurants opening has gone up. Television and the Internet have made our profession look like 'overnight success story' people. People go into this business now with expectations that aren't realistic. I always tell them this business is about learning from an endless series of mistakes. It's hard work and it's repetitive. I don't know that people have the patience for it anymore. Everywhere I've worked lately no one wants to spend the time to learn.
The way the media presents the job it looks like immediate gratification and creativity.
Look, some of the blogs and shows are interesting and informative but I say if you make a grilled chicken my way 15 times perfectly you still don't know how to do it because you haven't screwed it up yet. There can be a variation in the chicken, in the temperature in the kitchen, and just working through the changes of the seasons. You figure out where you went wrong, admit it and correct it and then repeat over and over.
Last year I interviewed Justin Smillie of Il Buco Alimentari and he called you 'an organizational mastermind.' Are you like that at home?
Absolutely not. My wife says, 'It's like there are two of you. At work you're making lists and crossing things off and you come home and do nothing.' I just say, 'Sorry, honey!'
The Regency Bar & Grill at Loews Regency Hotel, 540 Park Ave., 212-339-4050