ced, matt, will and michael at novella's dinner, june 2009

The Real Work
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
--Wendell Berry

:: :: ::

in this moment, i have to look for beauty in bits and pieces, like this poem, or the smiles on the faces of my cooks today, a day i've both dreaded and anticipated for some time now.

for months, i have carried on my shoulders the weight of a struggling restaurant. today, we let go. today, we announced that eccolo will close on august 22nd, after five final nights of special dinners where we'll cook the foods we love to eat, play the music we love to listen to, and invite our closest friends and neighbors to celebrate the midsummer bounty with us.

the past five years have simultaneously been the most challenging and rewarding years of my life. i've made a lot of terrible mistakes, but i've tried to avoid repeating them. i've also had some fantastic successes--experiences so incredible my feeble imagination could have never dreamt them up. i've grown as a cook, but more importantly as a human being. to those i've hurt or offended, i apologize from the bottom of my heart. and to those i've helped or inspired, i hope you will pass it on to someone else.

i don't know what i'll do exactly. i'm going to help out at chez panisse for a little while, do some canning projects with local farms and restaurants, teach some workshops with novella, and write. full-time restaurant work is not how i'm meant to spend my life--that much i know. unfortunately, i don't know how i am meant to spend it. i do know that there will always be good food, good friends, and beautiful words in my life, though.

i face my real journey now--my real work lies ahead.


  1. You are a true force of nature, Samin. Even a tornado pauses, pensive, moments before it continues forward, screaming, to tear up sod and plant straw in telephone poles. No one is sure why.

  2. Auguri Bella- when one lets go of one dream- others open!

  3. Samin, know that weʻre 100% behind you. I canʻt wait to see what kind of awesome adventure youʻll embark on in this next phase of your life.

  4. Samin--I send you many positive thoughts on this new branch of possibilities!!! I am sad that Eccolo is closing, but I am glad the experience was good to you.

  5. I love you, friend.

    Gary has asked that I make it completely 100% clear that he wants you to come to Seattle. ha! Seriously, though. He says you should come here and stay with us rent-free for awhile and use the time to write. Or whatever else you wanted to do. He wants to be a patron of your art. :)

  6. Sorry to hear that the restaurant is closing ... but excited for your new adventures.

    I hope you will continue to share them here!

    Sometimes we need the shove out the door into the future -- and it sounds like you will have soft landings.

    Finding out what you want to do with your life is a life long process... enjoy the ride knowing that friends and strangers (like me) will be sending you all the best wishes and thoughts!

  7. hey mama! thank you so much for feeding me and my loved ones well, for smiling when you are dead tired, for knowing my face instead of my name, and giving all of us foodies and lovers of Eccolo some of the best meals of our lives. wherever you land will be the place you need to be for that moment. i hope that i run into you during your next adventure -- Cynthia

  8. Samin, Your Chron article made me feel so terrible and so wanting it all to have been different. For your next venture into food let me spell out one thing that did not happen in saving Eddolo... until the article about the closing I had never heard of the name Eccolo.

    Maybe your promos had been to those already of the Eccolo faith. I live in SF and had never heard of you. I'm sad. I wish you the best. --Ric