What goes into getting ready for a special meal like Valentine’s Day? In addition to the regular prep that needs to be done, you start at an obscenely early time just to get it all done. While your guests are not even thinking about the meal they will eat tonight, you are. Down to the very last detail. The list is long.

Do I have to be up this early or am I some kind of masochist that needs to feel the burn of an obsessive personality disorder? Maybe, but ultimately it comes down to being at my best at this time of day, so I go with what I know.

I do it because I know people are coming to my place for an experience, and I want that experience to be the best it can be under my watch. I want the eyes of the customer to brighten when the server sets the plate down. I want to see those eyes close in satisfaction when the first bite is taken, and I want to hear that one word all chefs understand, Wow.

This is why the day starts early.

Is the oven at the right temp? Check it again…