I walked in, was introduced to the staff, handed an apron, and immediately got put to work. The atmosphere was fast paced yet fun as I helped the six chefs prep their stations in anticipation for the busy Friday night dinner rush. While some students were still in class, and others were napping after an exhausting week, I was beginning what would soon be one of my most memorable nights in Athens.
When I first met Peter at the UGA Visitors Center last fall, I was captivated by his story and intrigued by his work. The man had been in my shoes as a UGA tour guide roughly a decade before me and is now living out his dream as the head chef at one of Athens’ finest restaurants, The National. Our initial meeting was followed by a few emails back and forth and resulted in the once in a lifetime opportunity of shadowing him for an evening at work, creating remarkable culinary masterpieces and overseeing the kitchen and dining room. For six and a half hours my senses were on overdrive as I observed, smelt, and tasted dish after dish of incredible cuisine. I was in heaven as I bounced around the kitchen, rolling lamb kefta, designing cheese plates, garnishing desserts, and so much more. I asked the chefs hundreds of questions about their technique, flavor combinations, and tricks of the trade, soaking up as much kitchen wisdom as I possibly could. After this unique experience, I was pleasantly exhausted and surprisingly a bit hungry but my night was not complete. Per Peter’s instructions I took a seat at the bar where he graciously served me a delightful dinner of some of his favorites from the menu, most notably the scrumptious fried squid and the shockingly tasty duck tongues. As I left that evening, I was stuffed and unbelievably thankful for such an unforgettable night.
What started out a random meeting at the UGA Visitors Center followed by email correspondence resulted in perhaps one of my greatest nights in Athens, doing things beyond my wildest dreams. So, no matter how random or wild or impossible your outrageous goal is, do not ever give up. Attack it with unwavering persistence and if necessary resilience and your dream could become a reality too. 92 down, 8 to go!