In Memoriam

Chef Gerard Hayden 1964-2015

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Gerry hired me in August 2001 to work at the well reputed Aureole in NYC.  It was my first job on the east coast and my Paris/San Francisco bonafides secured me a slot over the landlocked veterans of Denny’s showoffs who had applied a week prior.  I started off on sauté and was rather quickly relegated to the frantic fringe of hot apps, and closer to the pot sink.  I was living up on Arthur Ave waaay up in the Bronx and while the commute was soul crushing, the misfits and derelicts on the ride back home made for a good distraction in the days before smarty-pants telephones.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO North Fork Table and Inn owners Claudia Fleming and Gerry Hayden on Tuesday.

Shepherds of a good flock

I did my job, fucked up here and there, and after the towers came down in September I had to work the hot apps both lunch and dinner, on account of Gerry having fired the lunch guy for not finding the apple tortellini, and because it made good business sense since the restaurant industry took it on the chin that week.  There were some brusque conferences in the walk-in, there were some laughs, Gerry sometimes came out for a pop with the crew and there was a fella we judiciously baptized “Stinky Pete”, who showed up to work one Monday much to Gerry’s befuddlement.  “Who the fuck is that guy?”.  “Uh, chef, you  hired him Saturday night at the bar”.  “…oh.” I reached depths of shits every day that would leave James Cameron stunned, but I got through unscathed and managed to make family meal every day without having to go apologize to the staff, even blowing my wad (Gerry’s words) on a Tuesday with coq au vin.  With the help of my colleagues I went on to be a better cook.  I figured out what “a cunt hair more sauce”  translated to in metric (again, Gerry’s terms of measurement), got organized, took pride in my work and even got an extra beer at the end of the night, 1 more than the extern.

Some strange hand holding in there.

Some strange hand holding in there.

Gerry negotiated a place for me to stay on the North Fork, on a sheep farm in Cutchogue with friends from DC in exchange for our pledge to help out at the Inn and keep a balanced keel.  We were introduced to fantastic people and even better product.  More, when I have the time.  Until then, Gerry’s legacy wont continue on its own.  Thank you to all the people of the North Fork who have made this summer so endearing, worthwhile and noble.  My sincerest condolences and sympathies to Gerry’s friends, families and those familiar with the wretched affliction.  He is in a much better place and there are very few who should have to suffer as much for their trade.

An indulgence he let me savor.

An indulgence he let me savor.