“Like a shark,” Chris Schlesinger told us, “you’ve got to keep moving or you die.”
“And I start with peppercorn ranch on the salad,” came the text from Chef Eric Gburski, a few weeks ago, on the night of his final dinner at Frank’s Steakhouse as a Boston resident. Later would come the steak, Frank’s signature 16 OZ. hand-cut boneless NY strip sirloin served smokin’ and sizzlin’ on a cast iron skillet. Chef Goob was born in Connecticut, schooled in Buffalo, and certified in Boston. He knows how to cook meat, but Frank’s was always the place for special occasions.
When I started at the East Coast Grill, Chef Goob had already been working there for ten years. After having mastered every station on the line, he had been promoted unexpectedly when he thought he wasn’t ready. Eric was sous chef, then executive chef, and finally general manager. He was Bill Russell winning ten championships, as player and coach. He was Tom Hanks in a League of Their Own, to our Madonnas and Rosie O’Donnells.
I remember when I first started as an oyster shucker, Eric’s father was passing away. I could tell he was having a hard time, because he would finish many nights at the bar, lost in thought. At that time, I was nobody to Chef, the lowest on the totem pole. One night when I had finished cleaning, Chef Eric out of the blue asked me to pull up a stool. He put one hand heavily on my shoulder, and said, “The restaurant brings guests in, we give them a good time, delicious food, they forget their troubles, and go and tell their friends. It’s all a cycle.”
“Are you crying? Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There’s no crying! THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!” said coach Jimmy Dugan. Chef Goob was the man who hugged me and sent me on my way from Cambridge, MA back to Chicago. More than any other person he taught me about how the restaurant business works, how to stand the kicks and still be warm. Eric Gburski showed me how to lead by example. I’m emotional for him, and have occasionally slipped into Bob Seger on repeat, imagining the Goob tearing across the country on his motorcycle. I love you man!
“Roll, roll me away,
won’t you roll me away tonight
I too am lost, I feel double-crossed
and I’m sick of what’s wrong and what’s right
We never even said a word,
we just walked out and got on that bike
And we rolled
And we rolled clean out of sight”