From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy
From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy Podcast
A Conversation with Eric Rivera

A Conversation with Eric Rivera

Listen now | The Addo chef talks to me from Seattle about becoming a "concierge" service during the pandemic.

The first time I interviewed Eric, I knew he was different from other chefs. He really says whatever is on his mind, which comes from deep experience: Rivera used to work in the insurance business, then the recession hit and he turned his interest in food into something bigger. He went to culinary school. He spent three years as the director of culinary research operations at the Alinea Group in Chicago. But when it comes to his Seattle restaurant, Addo—which started in his apartment—he doesn’t really follow tradition. That’s been useful in the pandemic, a time during which he’s pivoted to selling pantry goods and frying customers’ potatoes, acting as what he calls a “concierge service.”

This is why he’s outspoken about how the most famous chefs in the U.S. have acted irresponsibly during this crisis. We talked about his upbringing, the pandemic, and how chefs with investors don’t know how to do anything themselves.

Alicia: Hi, Eric. Thanks so much for coming on.

Eric: Awesome. 

Well, thanks for having me. Really appreciate it.

Alicia: How are things in Seattle right now?

Eric: I would say kind of all over the place. They just shut down restaurants again, for indoor dining. Doesn't necessarily affect us too much, ’cause we’re — we weren't doing that anyway. [Laughs.]

But everybody's kind of in a little panic mode. Everybody's kind of in like a little panic mode here, people that were doing it. Numbers are rising, and things are going back to beyond levels we were before March when they shut everything down. So, it's a lot more serious now.

Alicia: Right.

And, I mean, we're gonna get into this, but also, can you tell me what inspired — how did you decide never to open dining during the pandemic?

Eric: It was pretty simple: It's a virus that feeds off of people moving together and hanging out on the most basic level. And it doesn't matter who you are, or what performative safety things you want to do, the $25 thermometer, UV lights, or any of that other stuff is just pretty much [performative] at that point. 

So, this is something pretty serious, and I didn't want to have to open and close and open and close and open and close over and over again, ’cause I can't afford that. [Laughs.] So, I just basically said, ‘We're gonna have to be extreme. If this virus is as extreme as it is, then it's gonna take me being extreme as well.’

Alicia: Right. And so, to get back to the normal course of the interview — can you tell me about where you grew up and what you ate?

Eric: Yeah, I mean, I grew up in Washington State. My dad was military. They're both from Puerto Rico, both my parents, and they moved over here ’cause he got stationed. And then I was born here in Fort Lewis, and then grew up in Olympia, which is about 45 minutes south of there. And it's like, very secluded, suburban-style life. There was no Puerto Rican anything other than my parents, so it was very different. 

And just pretty much over here for a while and then started moving around a little bit later in life again, ’cause my dad was military.

Alicia: And were you eating Puerto Rican food, mostly at home? How was your — outside of the house, it was totally different?

Eric: Yeah, that was the only option. It was just at my parents’ house. My grandparents had moved from Puerto Rico to kind of help raise us until we were about, until I was about seven. So, it was always Puerto Rican food from them. And then everything else on the outside was new discovery land for all of us. 

So it was a matter of early on taking Puerto Rican food to lunch, to school, getting laughed at, getting made fun of, and then assimilating towards white culture, and taking Lunchables and stuff like that. And it was very, very different.

Alicia: And I know you've kind of given this story before, but how did you end up having your restaurant and being a chef?

Eric: Yeah. 

I'd pursued other things before. So I was in mortgage insurance, financial services when I was younger. And then that whole thing blew up, and I got forced out with the recession. And so then I said, ‘Hey, I'm gonna pursue something. Even if worst comes to worse, at least I can make myself some food.’ [Laughs.] So I started tinkering around in kitchens and kind of doing that whole thing, was doing a food blog, and finally hit a point where I'm like, ‘This doesn't work for me. I need it to actually be something real.’

So, I proceeded as being a professional cook. Did that for a while, worked in some cool places. And then finally got to the point where I was like, ‘I'm tired of everybody telling me how this industry should be. I'm going to do it for myself now.’ 

So I started off in my apartment as a — two seats at a time, tasting menus, literally in my apartment. And people didn't know anything other than that. They’d just come over, and they were dressed all fancy. And they're like, ‘Oh, shit, this is just your apartment?’ I'm like, ‘Yeah.’ [Laughs.] So, it kind of started growing from there. 

I did pop-ups around the city. Any little opportunity to just get myself out there. I was working 80 to 100 hours a week, just trying to hustle. Which I still do now anyway, but — which is different. And I approached everything very differently. I couldn't get a loan. I couldn't get any investors. I couldn't get anything. So, for me, it was trying to figure out how to make it happen for myself.

Alicia: How did you do that? Were you being an independent restaurant in the truest sense of — it's you that are kind of, you have the stake in the whole thing. So, how has that made your restaurant different from other restaurants, even before the pandemic?

Eric: Yeah.

I felt there was all these gatekeepers and established brands of restaurants, and those are all the people that are getting all the attention. And it was easy for them to get the attention, whether they have fancy PR or they're just known people that have been here for a long time. I realized I didn't have that time to kind of fuss, and I didn't have the money to put it up front. So, I had to figure out a different way. 

So, it was basically creating a brand for myself and going around everybody, redirecting how things happen, how the communication goes out, how people see things. And a lot of that was more using modern technology to kind of help me do that, and pretty much just forcing that on the system. And it worked. Started having people going like, ‘Who the hell is this guy? Where did he come from?’

And I think people, as they started to try the food, they were like, ‘Ok, cool. It's not perfect, it's not amazing or whatever. But it's different for sure.’ So, there's a lot of people that have hung out with me along the way and been really supportive. So, it's been really cool. 

But it hasn't been easy. It hasn’t been fun a lot of times. But it's just been real. And it's been real, not having a lot of things that other people are afforded. And I'm cool with that.

Alicia: I just watched your kind of segment on Eater's Guide to the World. Because I've never been to your restaurant, and because I think I've mostly kind of seen what you've been doing post-pandemic happening, it was really interesting to get that glimpse at what it actually was before all of this. 

And so, did you view your role as a chef and a restaurant owner differently before the pandemic as you do now? How has the idea of what a chef is evolved in your brain, if at all?

Eric: Yeah, it was very different, because the point of view was, ‘Get people here. And then once they're here, show them what you can do, and then interact with them all over.’ So, for me, that doesn't exist anymore. And having a tasting menu and having a chef's counter, all that shit sounds fancy ’cause it was, but there's a lot of other stuff we were doing at the time that was lower spectrum, lower price point stuff that was just, ‘Get people through the door.’

But now it's very different, because you're almost flying blind every day. There's things that people want that I figured out; it wouldn't have existed before the pandemic. So, it's made me more kind of jump into their house, figure out what's going on with them, kind of understand and talk to them and go like, ‘What do you want?’ 

And basically, what I've positioned myself as is being your personal chef. And that's kind of the relationship I have now, rather than imposing what we do here. It's the other way around. Now it's going like, ‘What do you need?’ Which is cool.

Alicia: I noticed on your Instagram one day, I think you even just fried someone's potatoes for them. So, how has your relationship to customers changed in this time? Is it more of an intimate, actual relationship? 

Eric: Yeah, it definitely is. There's more communication than there was before. Because people wouldn’t tell me things when they were here. Now, it's — they're on Instagram, or they text me, or they email me. And they're like, ‘Hey, do you have this? I'm out of that. I can't find this type of flour. I can't find-.’ And I'm like, ‘Oh, shit. Yeah, I got that. That's easy. I don't know why you’re going — just email me.’

So essentially, I'm sometimes a concierge service. [Laughs.] And I'm cool with that. I'm trying to do as much as I can within running a business, within keeping the staff employed. It's a lot more variables than it was before. 

I've had other people go catch like crab or fish or whatever. And they're like, ‘Hey, do you want one? If I give you one, can you do this to it?’ And I'm like, ‘Yes, it's easy.’ 

It's not a big deal to me. That's what I’ve always wanted it to be. So, it's not like it’s stopping me from doing something else that's not as important or more important. I'm like, ‘Fuck yeah, bring it. I’ll fry your potatoes. I have a fryer. It just sits there.’ It's kind of a cool little service. 

But it's like, the guy comes in, gives me a potato, I make fries for him. He goes home and makes poutine out of it. I mean, ok, sure. That’s great. It's easy. Probably would have taken him like an hour, and it took me like 10 minutes. 

So, it's cool. And as long as you're cool about it, the guests, and they're appreciative. That's all I care about.

Alicia: Yeah, no, it's so interesting. And it's so against what you're supposed to, or what we've been trained to believe that the chef is — so it's really fascinating to watch this from afar and see, yeah, a chef who would usually be doing a chef's table counter service be just frying potatoes. It's really wild, and it's really awesome to see that. 

And have you found — because you mentioned before not being able to afford the big PR firm or anything like that, but also not being in New York, not being in what's considered sort of a major culinary center in the U.S., how do you think that has affected your restaurant? How do you see those things and the way food media prioritizes those things, whether it's a big PR firm or whether it's being in New York or Chicago. Has that affected you, and how do you see it?

Eric: It's been really hard to get to kind of this point, of people actually realizing kind of what we're doing. Eater’s been dope, Thrillist, Infatuation — everybody's been amazing. Seattle’s massively hyping it. Everybody’s been really, really cool. It's really hard to transition what I'm doing to guests, because they're like, ‘I don't know what he did.’ Or, ‘Hey, I found out what he did over there. And then he changed it.’

And I was talking to somebody the other day. Over this pandemic, we've done over 600 variables of offerings that we have — experiences — since March. I had somebody the other day go, ‘Hey, you remember that one hot sauce you made back in July? I ran out. It’s our favorite hot sauce ever. Can you make it again?’ I'm like, ‘Well, no.’ And they're like, ‘Well, why not?’ And I'm like, ‘That was like a two-month process, and it was specifically with one farmer’s tomatoes. And that's it. I don't have anything else.’ I wish I would have made like 1000 bottles of it, but that’s just not how — it's not what we do.

So, it's a very different thing. Because then places in New York are the hubs, are looking for important people, always. And there's always that upper tier that I'm always talking shit to. The Jean-Georges, Danny Meyers, and whatever, the people that make it easy for New York Times or whoever to talk to you, because they just know, ‘I'm gonna get fucking free food from it.’ That's really easy. 

But then I'm over here in Seattle, it's a small market. I wouldn’t say I necessarily make an impact, but just show people like, ‘Look, there's other options in the middle of a pandemic that doesn't involve eliminating 800 employees and then asking the government for a bunch of money.’ That’s just crazy to me. So, it's me trying to show people. 

And I've been fortunate with enough talking shit online that real writers and people who are in the press have actually reached out to me. They're like, ‘Ok, I'm going to filter this a little bit, but tell me what you have to say.’ And that's been pretty cool. For me, it's come from anger of three-ish years of — we've been doing this since day one. And it's nothing new for us. It's just showing people that there's a different way to do a restaurant. It's all the same thing. 

I don't feel bad for Cheesecake Factory down the street having to close for indoor dining. Fuck them. I don't feel bad for Danny Meyer or whoever these fucking guys are that have all the access and stuff. 

And I just saw Jean-Georges yesterday, looked at his brand-new outdoor-indoor dining thing. Fancy as fuck, man. It's really expensive to do that, and then still fueling, just bringing people in. And I'm like, ‘How and why is that ok?’ But that's just how it is. That guy's gonna end up probably on Forbes tomorrow about his indoor dining thing. And that's easy. And you kind of have to fight against that, because that's where the beacon shoots. That's the spotlight towards it. 

I was talking to Devita Davison. She was saying the crazy part about a lot of restaurants in Detroit is that none of them, almost none of them, had to really pivot that were owned by Black people, or Indigenous people, or anything else. Because she was like, they weren't trying to serve expensive food. They weren't trying to do this highfalutin shit. So on their side, they were like, ‘No, we're fine. Most of the stuff is good in a takeout box. We're not complaining about it.’

And so when when I look at stuff like that, and then I see the other side where it's all these people going to the president and talking to him and being like, ‘We need millions and billions of dollars,’ I’m like, ‘You guys are full of shit.’ That's not what everybody needs. It's not a catch-all thing. It's not a one-size-fits-all. It's like we need help, but we don't need the help that Éric Ripert needs. That's crazy. 

Alicia: And, I mean, it is fascinating to see, because I did a panel for FoodLab Detroit, which is run by Devita Davison. And I was on the panel with a couple of restaurateurs from that area. Women, I was gonna say, of course. And there was a woman who is Indigenous and had a restaurant in Detroit that she already was sourcing from very local farms, and selling, putting that in her food, but then now she is selling right to people. And that is such an easy shift to make if you don't have your whole ego tied up in a type of plate or something. 

And that seems to be the big difference. It's because I've seen — my favorite chefs in New York are people like Brooks Headley or Amanda Cohen, who have just done their best, and probably been pissing people off in the — for not being run in the way that they believe that restaurants should be open, despite all the science that we know. And so, it's really fascinating to watch the most famous and lauded chefs have been the ones who cannot function during this time. 

And I know, obviously, that you've been extremely outspoken about this and how stupid it is, and how you don't necessarily need a response from the government. But would you like to see a response, maybe when we have a new people in the White House?

Eric: But I don't want it to look like the way they want it to look like. I don't need it to be that way. 

I mean, the biggest part was taking care of employees. It's something that all these restaurants that got that far, they got there with unpaid stashes and paying people like shit just so they can have their big caviar menus and all this other stuff. And that's not ok. So, if we're going to help restaurants first, I'd rather have them help out the restaurant employees that have been unsteady the whole time. They're being laid off. 

Meanwhile, you've got the David Changs still opening up restaurants all over the place and going on Goldbelly and shipping out and doing stuff. They have options. But the problem is that everybody that's being talked to is those guys, is those people, because they're seen as the beacon or some lobbyists from the National Restaurant Association. And they're just fueling that shit. The mouthpiece for it, to me, isn't them. 

It's the restaurant employees, all those people that may never have a job again. And having things start up job retraining programs, because there's — a lot of people aren't gonna be able to work for, probably ever again, in certain places. So, giving them a shot, giving them a shot to pay their rent, or canceling it, or doing all those things that actually help the people. Not just the oligarch-style, big name, restaurateur. 

A lot of the reasons why these guys, it sounds like they're always asking for money is because that's how it is. They don't own their restaurants. They're just there by name. And the way that they get funding is all these investors come on in. And, at most, they own 7 to 10% of that restaurant. And so that's all they're used to, is when something goes bad, like a fucking toilet explodes or there's a leaking, they’re used to calling the investor and going like, ‘Hey, we need money. Hey, we need money. Hey, we need money.’ That's all these guys are used to doing. 

So, when something bad like a pandemic happens, the first thing they do, and you see them, the Thomas Keller — ‘I'm gonna sue my insurance company.’ Meanwhile, back corner, lays these people off. And I'm like, ‘Well, that shit’s gonna take like three to seven years.’ I know that because I was formerly in insurance.

You look at what their priority is, and it's always not guided towards the employee. And that's a big problem. I hope that this next administration looks at it that way. Because this last administration was basically business first, and it's just not okay. It's not what people need. 

A true independent restaurant doesn't have 20 restaurants. A true independent restaurant doesn't have restaurants across the country, and has licensing deals, and isn't flashy cookbooks and other shit. That's not it, man. 

There's entire areas of our state within the international district, with restaurants that have been around 50, 60, 70 years that still don't get any press normally. Or you have them be this lauded thing. They’ll never get a James Beard award, but they'll get an American Classics pat on the back. So, it’s like the point of view for everything is just — it's so weird. And it's not right. And it doesn't serve the people that need it the most.

Alicia: Right. 

And I mean, do you think things like the way that press attention is spread — given out, and the ways that awards are given out, do you think that these are able to be reformed in order to more accurately reflect who's cooking and what people really? 

Eric: Yeah, I think it just needs to be blown up from the ground up. I mean, honestly, it just needs to be. Because even the James Beard awards, the way that they were doing it was it had a bunch of people, they’d get together, they’d talk about it, and then there's chefs that are able to vote, or restaurateurs are able to vote. 

But it's all the same people. It's all the same people, always. And it's all the same people given, passing their little torch every time. And that's watered down white bullshit, the majority of people that are winning it. And you start to look at things — And I’ve said this a million times. But when you have a Rick Bayless that’s won more awards for Mexican food than actual Mexicans. You have a Sean Brock, who's won more awards for Southern food than Black people. That's fucking insane. It's fucking insane. 

So, it's like why are the people who are voting for these things so scared? Are they scared of Black people? Do they not know how to talk to Latin American people? Do they not know how to go and understand what good Indigenous food is? Are they scared of Japanese people? Like, what's the deal? And a lot of it comes down to, it's not representative of the people who are — is judging it. So, they're not going out there. They're not doing the thing. 

So yeah, if you're going to do it, you’ve got to blow it up. And that's kind of my thing. Otherwise, it just won't be respected and it won't be — it won't affect the right people. 

Even with writers. I just saw the thing from L.A. Times, and how they had co-people, and it was all bullshit. And you look at it and go, ‘Well, why would you do that? Why would you position both people as being co-critics and then say, ‘Well, this other person won a James Beard award,’ and that makes it all better when it doesn't? So it clearly, when you start to look at it as a systematic problem, you can clearly see that if someone's gonna say, ‘Well, this person won a James Beard award and that means they're better than this other person,’ that's all bullshit. 

And it doesn't really work into the factor of understanding who that person is that they hired. For them, they are just like, ‘Oh, cool. Look at my shiny Rolls Royce, and cool.’ And you're like, ‘Yeah, but it has an oil leak. And it's not very good.’ [Laughs.]

Alicia: No, it's wild. And it's funny that you say, ‘Do these people not know how to talk to Black people, the people who are judging?’ Because I remember doing an interview and — it was at Time Inc. It was for branded content. I don't know. It was like a contract thing. 

And I went to this interview, and the dude asked me, he asked me about my ethnic background. Which is illegal. It's illegal to do that. But he asked me about my ethnic background, because he wanted someone to be able to talk to the people at — I don't know, like People en Español and some other magazine focused more toward people of color. And I was like, ‘Holy shit.’ But this is how media is — and if it's not racist, it's classist all the time. This is how the sausage gets made, and exactly why it needs to be blown up.

But do you think even, pandemic aside, in the current situation, what reforms do you think need to happen in the restaurant world to kind of make it viable, make it a — not necessarily even the restaurant world, but just politically, economically. What has to happen for running a restaurant as an independent person?

Eric: Just the biggest part is who's who, and more transparency in that. So, when there's stories written about the bigger name chefs, and — essentially, I target them because they're like the 1% in the normal world, right? And I'm like, ‘Wait, why are we checking in with those people? Why are we talking to them?’ 

That’s like talking to — when someone writes a story about Amazon and they had a bad day in the stock market, and they're like, ‘Oh, Jeff Bezos lost like $500 million today.’ And I'm like, ‘What? Why does anybody write this? This is all bullshit. He's worth over 100 billion dollars, I don't give a fuck. Fuck him.’ I mean, I appreciate what he's done to a certain degree, but goddamn, to a certain point, how much more fucking money do you need? 

And you're stopping the process. And it's always that trickle-down, Reagan-style economic mind-set. And it doesn't work. It's proven that it doesn't work over and over again. Meanwhile, you have tons of other people that are sick, dying. It's the same way in the restaurant world. 

So, when you have all these vaunted brands that everybody knows just by three little letters, like TFL and JGV and all that shit, people know who they are. And they check into them, and they're the first ones that go, and it's not what that is. 

I want to see pop-up culture — I want to see not just ‘Hey, we have 10 chefs here, and we checked off the list. And we have made sure to have six of them be Black.’ That's bullshit. You have got to do the due diligence, make sure everybody's cool. But then also be aware and get other people who know what the fucking food is, not just white people. It has to create a different point of view. It has to be different, it has to be blown up. 

Otherwise, you're going to run the same problems. You have these legacy people that have been around forever 25, 30, 40 — fucking 40 years. And they're not being held accountable. They're not being held accountable at all. And that's from the industry on, even on the outside. And we've seen that. 

I think it was the guy from James Beard that stepped down, and he'd been there for 20 years. Like, that's a good first step. And I think he realized like, ‘Hey, even if I did something bad or not, I realized that I just maybe need to get out of the way now.’ And I think that's like a lot of things that need to happen. 

There's a lot of people that just need to get out of the way. They’ve made enough. They've done enough, good or bad. It's time to get out of the way. Go. Retire. Go to your public access television station and do your little cooking show. But seriously, there's a lot of other people that want to be in the mix that you're dropping, and having to compete with them is not okay. It's not fun.

Alicia: Right. 

And well, speaking of competing with big people, I — you got a lot of attention this year, when the Goya boycott happened, for adobo and sazón, and — which is obviously good. But I wanted to ask how — you do cook a lot of Puerto Rican food. You're selling sazón and adobo. What is the role for you of Puerto Rican food in what you do?

And I think what you do is so interesting, because you really are incorporating it into your full vision of what your food should be, and not being like, ‘Oh, hello, look, here's a-’ I don't know. It's not schticky when you do it, and — which is very refreshing, because sometimes it gets so forced into that kind of schtick thing. So, what role does it play in your cooking, those Puerto Rican flavors?

Eric: I approach it as being realistic. Because there's a bunch of things that I don't have access to with my — the food that I cook here. There's a lot of people that are from Puerto Rico that will come, and the first thing they do is talk shit about how it's not authentic all the way down. And I'm like, Well, first off, I don't know your fucking grandma. I don't know who you are. I know we're different families. We all have different things we do. Cool.

But I also am not going to spend 10 times the amount to bring certain peppers, and certain flavors, and certain things, ’cause then I'm gonna end up charging you 10 times as much and you still want it to be Puerto Rico prices. So, we have to take that away. 

I'm also in a city where I'm the only person doing Puerto Rican food, and it’s not even a full-fledged Puerto Rican restaurant. Because the numbers don't make it for that. People still don't give a shit. I would be better off if I said I was Cuban food, and I did Puerta Rican food.  Honestly, that's what people would gravitate towards. And if I had a Cuban pressed sandwich, people would lose their shit. 

But that's not what I want to do. I want to be — people to understand a little bit of what it is, and then start to go dig on their own and find out. Because then that allows them to broaden their horizons and realize that Puerto Rican cuisine isn't a one-all, one-size fits all thing, either. There's different styles, there's different ways you can make it. And there's seasonality towards it that a lot of people really don't understand. They're like, ‘It's fucking fried food.’ And I'm like, ‘It's not all that.’ There's a lot to it.

But I'm also classically French trained. I went to culinary school, I worked at really cool restaurants. So for me, there's a touch that I want to bring to it that sometimes can be super high-end fancy or not. I can still charge $5 to this thing, or I can charge a couple hundred for it. But I want to have that point of view where anything that comes out of here is Puerto Rican food, whether it's the black truffle? That's still Puerto Rican food that a Puerto Rican guy made. 

So, I kind of want to like poke the bear always with people. They were like, ‘I've never tried Puerto Rican food.’ And I was like, ‘The fuck you haven't? You've tried my food, right? You've had it before.’ And they're like, ‘Oh, yeah.’ And I was like, ‘Made by a Puerto Rican.’ So, it’s a tongue in cheek type thing. But it allows them to kind of go, ‘This is very different. I like it. It tastes good.’ And then I'm like, ‘Well, just keep buying stuff. Well, keep supporting, and we'll be cool.’

Alicia: Well, for you is cooking a political act?

Eric: Yeah, it always has been. It's political. It's also who gets to eat a lot of the things, too, with how much money someone has or doesn't. So, there's always that thing that I'm trying to push. Within my restaurant, we have stuff that's like $5 all the way to a few hundred dollars, and everybody can still have something from us. There's not a lot of places like that. 

So, I'm always trying to bring that on a level, but I'm also trying to force down different ideas so that way, people just don't think if you buy something from someplace, they shouldn't be held accountable for the things they believe in. If they're Trump supporters, fuck them. Or if they want to go on some irrational Republican-style strategy stuff, fuck them. Or if they just mimic it softly and don't really say they're Republican or Trump supporters, but everything they do in their business supports that, then I basically will tell people, ‘Hey, they're acting in a part of the system. Whether they're saying it or not, you should really look at it like this.’ So, it really becomes political at that point. 

There's a lot of stuff within Puerto Rican cuisine, too, that happens that way. Every time somebody starts to talk about Puerto Rico that's white, or doesn't really know a lot, is the first thing they say out of their fucking mouth is like, ‘They should become a state. I can't wait to take them over.’

And I'm like, ‘That’s not your fucking place. Listen, man. Both my parents are Puerto Rican. I'm legit, check squared. Fine, cool. I got my little card, I guess. But I don't say whether they should be a state or not. That’s none of my fucking business. I don't live on the island. It wouldn't affect me personally. And, I don't have any Pinta or Santa Maria ready to get fired up to take the place over again. Calm down. Leave the ship to them where they live.’ 

It's not like random guy in Idaho, someone's gonna go to this random guy in Idaho and be like, ‘What do you think we should do here?’ And he's gonna be like, ‘Fuck you,’ and has this little sign up with his gun, and that's what's gonna happen. 

So it's always interesting to me, when stuff like that happens, because me, I make food. Ok, cool. And then what? I'm not supposed to have an opinion about things. What? Sounds good, Jim, that works in accounting at some fucking weird firm that you make, like, $50, $60,000 a year. You have more of an opinion than I'm supposed to have? Fuck that shit. So, it's very different. 

And I think seeing, maybe, with Anthony Bourdain kind of being more vocal about stuff like that, people kind of like were ready to accept it more rather than just being like a Bobby Flay who's like, ‘I make food,’ you know? ‘No, I don't talk about anything. I just make food. Ta-da.’ And you're like, ‘Fucking fakes.’ That's what it is, they’re fucking fakes. And I don't think we need that right now.

Alicia: Right. Absolutely. 

Well, thank you so much for taking the time-

Eric: Sorry about cussing — it’s my fault. [Laughs.]

Alicia: Oh, it's fine with me.

From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy
From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy Podcast
A weekly food and culture podcast from writer Alicia Kennedy, who talks to writers, chefs, and more about their lives, careers, and how food fits into it all.