Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

The above title is a lyric pulled from the band Bad Religion. If you read this blog you probably already knew that.  In this song, Greg Graffin  Brett Gurewitz (thank you, Pikus) is trying to explain that the reality of many situations are often more perplexing than what the masses would like to believe.

Brett, thank you for that intro, because it’s the perfect segue into why I, along with my sous chef Kevin McMullen, decided to leave Pensiero Ristorante in Evanston.

I’d like to say that all parties involved in re-establishing the institution of Pensiero, a restaurant that has been standing for 20 years and semi-recently under new ownership, were on the same page for success. But the reality of the situation reared its ugly head just after we announced our positions publicly.

Not very long after the world caught wind that Pensiero now had decent cooks in the back of house, the core values vanished and a new one emerged in the ownership. Suddenly the hunger for press lead management to fill up on all the wrong stuff: dumbing down the food, dictating the menu, and cutting costs at the expense of sanity, which peaked at having to cater the owner’s family B’nai Mitzvah, that equated to the annual salary of a line cook.

Priorities: gone. Vision: skewed. Communication: hopeless. Sanity: lost.  At the end of the day, we simply refuse to cook food dictated by someone without credentials. If that makes us elitists, so be it. But we’ll be damned if it makes us bad cooks.

After my departure, they will be onto their sixth chef in 14 months. I know I’m not perfect, but seeing my mistakes chronicled in the public eye made me face reality, own up, and make the hard changes. Perhaps this “press” will do the same for Pensiero.

And to the staff we left behind, good luck.

“Life is the crummiest book i ever read, There isn’t a hook just a lot of cheap shots, Pictures to shock and characters an amateur, Would never dream up.” – Brett Gurewitz ( Bad Religion)

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