I think Virginia and I got together in late 1980 as I recollect. The buildings were just being completed. The "Garden Center" which I believe you folks now use as office space and banquet facilities, was not completed yet. She hired me as a consultant to help set up the restaurant, the menu, procedures and initial staff hiring and training. I helped with the wine list. I did those things. We fooled with the menu quite a bit. Cooked a few meals at Virginia and Palmers house. Virginia was very heavy on vegetarian (rightfully so, with the garden) and I thought we should offer meats and seafoods as well. In the end we did. Bear in mind this is before I had any notion of being involved, these were just my observations as a consultant.
I had many meetings with Virginia and Palmer about staff and many meetings with Virginia and Kerry and Jim about what to plant in the garden. I think Jim was actually living in the Garden Center at that time. The wine room out back was not yet complete.
That was to have been the extent of my involvement. But, then, she made me an offer to stay on as opening executive chef. I stayed for about two years total. I located many organic suppliers and developed a very eclectic (for the time) menu. We changed it seasonally.
On the weekends I ran an auxiliary menu including game specials, appetizers, fresh pastas etc. I recommended wines with all dishes. We had all California wines.
During this era we were the cover article in an issue of Restaurant Design magazine and I (and the restaurant) was featured in an issue of the magazine of The Chef's Association of the Pacific Coast. I took many "eating" trips with Virginia and Palmer - Domaine Chandon, Greens, and Auberge du Soleil (I think we had our first anniversary party there) were among the destinations. I took the opportunity to discuss food with the chefs on these excursions - I remember Masa was at Auberge and Deborah Madison at Greens.
Before Mudd's I had opened two Crogan's Bars and Grills as executive chef - one in Walnut Creek and one in Montclair. At that time we shared a commissary with Scott's where I had worked previously. From what I understand they (Crogan's) have become something with which I would not now want to be associated. I had been night chef at the original Scott's Seafood Grill & Bar at Lombard and Scott in San Francisco. I was also executive chef at a critically acclaimed restaurant called Caracole in San Francisco and executive chef at The Tides in Sausalito.
I have two books coming out from Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Co. Mudd's is mentioned in both. The first, Creole Nouvelle: Contemporary Creole Cookery will be out at the end of October this year. The second will be out sometime next year.
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