A Letter to Chef Jon Radle

Heidi Loosen / Heavy Table

Dear Jon,

I hope you’re doing alright, wherever you are. At least, I hope the food’s OK.

Jon, there are so many things that I want you to know; where do I start? First, you should know that everyone who knew you, or even knew of you, would probably give anything to have been with you on your last day. Maybe to listen to your thoughts on the matter; maybe to just be able to say goodbye.

There’s so much that I need to thank you for. Thank you for helping and laughing with me even though I was such a crappy commis. Thank you for telling me which chefs to avoid and which to work for, and thanks for offering to recommend me, though at this point a recommendation from beyond the grave would probably not go over so well.

You, along with the rest of the staff at the Grand Cafe, occupy a permanent space in my mind. Since I worked with you for those few months, I’ve been determined to become a good enough cook to be able to keep up with you one day. You won’t be there to see it, but I can only hope to recreate a vague facsimile of the camaraderie, trust, and warmth that I experienced at the Grand.

I learned how to hold a knife, deal with mounds of brussels sprouts and sunchokes, and snap a towel at someone’s ass in your kitchen. The experience has become such an integral part of my self that, now that you’re gone, I can’t even mince parsley without coming close to sobbing. Sorry, I know it’s pathetic.

Even though I always tried to fully express my gratitude when I came in to work, I feel like I can never, ever thank you enough for what you passed on to me before you left us. The only thing I can do is scatter these words to the wind like ashes and hope I can live long enough to honor your memory. Thank you, again.

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