clock menu more-arrow no yes
Jenna Marie Wakani

Filed under:

Reimagining Kitchen Culture With the Black Hoof’s Jen Agg

"I can't ever take the 'fuck' out of the kitchen. It's the Wild West, it's always going to be like that, but do we have to humiliate and embarrass people who are just trying to prep their mise?"

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Jen Agg owns and operates a handful of excellent restaurants in Toronto, including The Black Hoof and Rhum Corner. When she's not tinkering with the lights and the soundtrack or seating guests, Agg is participating in the ongoing Twitter conversation about the lives of restaurant workers, and sexism in the food world. The restaurateur is the driving force behind this week's Kitchen Bitches conference, aimed at addressing "patriarchy in the world (and in the world of restaurants.)"

On the ninth episode of the Eater Upsell, hosts Greg Morabito and Helen Rosner get real with the very real Agg, covering the difference between a chef-restaurateur and a non-chef restaurateur, the lies restaurant workers tell one another, her upcoming project with Win Butler and Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire, and how to be fearless when calling out problems in the industry. Listen here, or read the transcript below.

As always, you can get the Eater Upsell on iTunes, listen on Soundcloud, or subscribevia RSS or search your favorite podcast app. You can also get the entire archive of episodes — plus transcripts, behind-the-scenes photos, and more — right here on Eater.


Here's the transcript of our conversation in The Eater Upsell Episode 9: Jen Agg, edited to the main interview. For Greg and Helen's chat about the enduring popularity of Del Amitri's "Roll to Me," you'll just have to listen to the audio above.

Helen: All right, we're here with Jen Agg. Jen is the Toronto-based proprietor of a number of restaurants and bars: The Black Hoof, Rhum Corner, and Cocktail Bar, all right next to each other in the beautiful city of Toronto that I've never actually been to.

Jen: Oh, yeah, beautiful.

Greg: And Jen is working on her autobiography right now...

Jen: Memoir, yeah, I guess. I don't know.

Greg: ...and a new restaurant with Win and Régine of the band The Arcade Fire.

Jen: Correct.

Helen: That's so — you're so cool.

Jen: I know, that was really — wait, oh —

Helen: No, you! Greg is cool, too, but like, not that —

Greg: I’ve got nothing on you, Jen.

Helen: You've got, like, three awesome restaurants, and a cool one on the way, with members of one of the cooler bands that exist. And —

Jen: My teenage aspirations are all coming true.

Helen: You're meeting all the musicians, and, you have a memoir, and your memoir has the best title of any memoir I've possibly ever heard of, which is I Hear She's Kind of a Bitch.

Jen: I Hear She's a Real Bitch.

Helen: Oh my god, it's even better.

Jen: Even more aggressive!

Helen: Yeah.

Jen: Yeah.

Greg: Did your publisher give you any blowback with that title?

Jen: Basically, I wouldn't — it was a deal-breaker. I was like, "This is what it's called, or I'm not signing."

Helen: Wow.

Jen: To be fair, my publisher, Random House, and Kristen of Random House is an amazing woman, and she was into the idea of that right from the start. So, really, they didn't object at all, and my agent was worried that they would, but they didn't.

Helen: So, are you a real bitch?

Jen: God, no! No, no, I am lovely, just charming. I think it's — it's obviously, it's a sort of a joke about the societal look at women who say stuff.

Helen: Yeah. So, so —

Greg: It's like an A+ title.

Helen: It is. I can also, like, totally picture the blurb in like People magazine, when they have to put in an asterisk for one of the letters.

Jen: I’m so anti-grawlix — that's actually what they're called, grawlix. When you, like, fake-swear. I'm so anti-grawlix. I hate it.

Greg: You know what's a bummer, though, is that when they make it into a movie,they're going to have to put those grawlix in the title.

Jen: Starring Catherine Keener.

Greg: Yeah, I was going to say —

Helen: That's a good call!

Jen: Obviously, obviously.

Helen: Yeah.

Greg: Who's going to play you? Or who's going to play you in the sitcom?

Jen: It's funny because my agent, Martha, who's a wonderful person, talks to me about this kind of stuff, and I'm just like, "I don't know if I want anything like that." At the same time, though, when you're presented with it, and somebody's saying, "Hey, I want to turn your life into a movie." Like, how do you say no to that? I mean, I'd absolutely want control, and that's not how life works. So, yeah, we’ll see.

Helen: I think you're in an interesting position with that because you are not a chef, and chefs, especially lately, are so celebrity-oriented. And they're constantly on TV, and they're constantly putting their faces out there. And like, you know, there are movies always coming out about chefs and, you know, Eddie Huang’s memoir got turned into a sitcom, but he was already a very visible, public person. And not that you're not visible, but —

Jen: Not in America, let's be honest.

Helen: You’re not coming from a celebrity chef place.

Jen: Yeah, no, it's actually true. And I mean, we may have tipped the scale on that one, like it's starting to feel like it's too far, too much inundation of the chef.

Helen: You think?

Jen: Yes.

Helen: There's too much.

Jen: I think the career has totally changed — and what it means, and the goals that kids getting into it have, and the sort of misguided notions they have about what it's like to be a cook. I think they've been completely upended by the celebrity chef.

Helen: How have you seen it evolve over your time running restaurants?

Jen: It's been crazy. I mean, when we opened in — god, it's been almost seven years now — The Hoof, there was no social media. I mean, I guess there was Facebook, but I never cared about that because I was like, "Hey, if we didn't wanna still know each other, we won’t." Twitter came about probably, what, 2009 is when it started to hit big?

Greg: That's when I joined it.

Jen:Yeah, no, that’s when I figured, ’cause that's when I joined it, and yeah, it was a totally different climate. It's made the world smaller, you can —I mean, it's been a great benefit to me. Certainly, I would not have met Jessica Koslow of the fabulous Sqirl without Twitter. So it's interesting, like, I think the things that I dislike about it are also its charm.

Helen: It does bring people together. But —

Jen: It really does.

Helen: How does it mess up aspiring chefs?

Jen: Um, well, okay, I've got to choose my words very, very carefully. That's a very pointed question. I think the problem is that a lot of chefs are being given a platform from which they shouldn't be speaking about certain things. So you have people who really are overeducated about food, and plates, and plating, and restaurants, and restaurant worlds, and kitchens, and [they're] undereducated about a large variety of other things. Being sort of put in this world where they're actually speaking, maybe, to these other things. And, yeah, perhaps they're not the right people to being doing that always. I mean, of course there are exceptions. I'm just talking generally. Not all chefs.

Helen: No, and I don't think that's unique to chefs, too. I think it's the case whenever you become famous.

Jen: Rock stars, yeah.

Helen: Or, like, you know, any — there's some word for it that I read in the New York Times after the Republican candidate debate.

Jen: Oh my god, that was so much fun to watch.

Helen: Um, but it was — there’s this idea that if you're really smart in one area, you assume that you’re smart in everything else. So if you've been successful in business, I mean, they were talking about Carly Fiorina, and she was saying, "Well my expertise, like, running these companies means X, Y, Z."

Jen: Of course it doesn’t.

Helen: It doesn't actually mean you know anything about politics, or about, like, military strategy. And there's some fundamental psychological fallacy where you assume that your expertise in one thing translates everywhere else.

Jen: Which is particularly ridiculous when your expertise is in something that is more craft than art, like food.

Helen: Yeah, and I think it is — it's a new thing that food. Something I find perpetually interesting is that, like, we’re at this point in food culture where it is at that tipping point. And it's starting to become mass. I mean, it is mass.

Jen: Everybody eats, that's why it's so accessible. I mean, if you look at something like visual art. It had a huge moment in the ’80s; that's great. I don't see that happening again in the same way, maybe not in our lifetime. But with food, everybody eats. So there's nobody saying, "I don't understand that painting." Or, "What does that mean?" Like, they understand that food goes in your mouth.

Greg: Everyone likes food.

Jen: Yeah, that's true! That’s true. They do, they really do. Well, there's — I mean, anorexic 15-year-old girls, maybe.

Helen: All the people that are eating Soylent, and they're like, "God, it's such a chore to experience physical pleasure, can I automate this?"

Jen: Honestly, sometimes I want a pill, sometimes I want to just be like, "Ah, here's my lunch, my breakfast, in pill form."

Greg: Somebody's really got to figure out how to make that hip and fashionable. You know, just like —

Jen: I’m shocked it hasn't happened yet.

Helen: It's so futuristic.

Greg: Yeah.

Helen: Right, like —

Greg: The Jetsons.

Helen: Or Willy Wonka. Isn't the thing in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where, like, you can chew gum and it’s, like, an entire meal sliding down — it’s like gross and terrifying, but also really alluring.

Greg: Yes. That can be Wiley's next act, you know?

Helen: Yeah!

Jen: That's a really good suggestion.

Greg: Jen, were always someone that loved food? Like, growing up, were you like, "I want to cook and be in restaurants"?

When I was 16, I made the brilliant decision to leave home for a year because I was just, like, a brat.

Jen: It was more of a necessity. Like, my parents are/were terrible cooks. Like, really, really dreadful. My dad's idea of dinner — um, I don't know if you guys had these sort of high-liner, shit fish packs? And they were like, rectangular cod. And so he would take it out of the freezer and put it into our toaster-oven pan, dump a can of literally cream of like celery, or maybe it was mushroom. It was cream of whatever. He'd put that in the toaster oven, the fish would bloat up with this cream of whatever soup, and then in an hour he'd be like, "Dinner." And then so I learned how to cook because I didn't want to eat that shit. So that was it, and I figured it out with baking first. When I was pretty young, by 10 or 11, I was baking a lot. Then I just sort of figured out the basics, like pasta and stuff, that you learn as a teenager. And when I was 16, I made the brilliant decision to leave home for a year because I was just, like, a brat. And not because my parents were terrible people, just because I really was just a brat. And so I really had to figure out how to cook. And one of my staples then was stir-fried beef with mashed potatoes, and I ate that almost every day.

Greg: So where'd you — did you, like, get an apartment somewhere, or...?

Jen: I got a house on Citadel Drive, which is like less-deep Scarborough, and you guys won't really understand this, but like, it's just the suburbs. And so where I was living was just closer to downtown, which is where I wanted to be. And, yeah, [I was] with three girls who were all two years older than me, and it was just a very strange year. Keg parties.

Greg: Were you done with school, or were you still going to school?

Jen: Oh, I went to school, but I went to ASE, which was Alternative Scarborough Education. It had "alternative" in the name, so of course I had to go there. And that's like the kind of place where the teachers were," Carol and Tom" instead of, like, "Mr. Davis." And you didn't really have to go to class that often, like, you could sort of show up twice a week, and mostly just to smoke, so it was great!

Helen: Like, "Say your feelings about history and math?"

Jen: Exactly! And I mean, somehow I managed to go through high school bouncing between the normal school full of normal people and ASE, full of the cool people.

Greg: Were your parents cool with that, or was this like a break from them?

Jen: I mean, they had no choice, they had no choice. It was very hard on them, and it really took a lot of mending. When I moved home at 17, I moved into the basement and cut the screen out of the window. And like, they just — they kind of were so happy to have me back. God, I was such an asshole! And we really did a lot of talking about it in my 20s, but it was really hard for them, of course, you know? They love me.

Greg: What did you learn that year?

Jen: It was their lot in life.

Greg: Or did you not learn anything?

Jen: Always wear condoms.

Helen: That's a good life lesson.

Jen: That's a good life lesson! We did keg parties, not the best thing. I mean, I learned that I loved and hated acid in equal measure. Like, I don't think kids drop acid anymore, like, that's not a cool thing that kids do, right?

Greg: I think the kids these days, like, they don't smoke, they don't —

Helen: They just do molly.

Jen: So boring.

Greg: Yeah.

Jen: Oh, it's all Molly? Is that still, like —

Greg: They just, like, send each other Molly on Snapchat or something.

Helen: I think that, like, weed is totally coming back. I feel like it was —

Jen: Oh my God.

Helen: You're from Canada, I mean, Canada has a very different relationship to drugs than the U.S. does.

Jen: I guess it does. I'm so worried because my husband, who is a lot older than I am but does not look it, and is the most charming person you'll maybe ever meet in your life, had never smoked weed, ever. And I mean, this is only notable...I'm not really sure how to say this, but he's a black man who'd never smoked weed because racism. People just assume that of course you've smoked lots of weed. Like, you're a cool black dude with a beard, so like, obviously you smoke weed. Um, but he decided recently, well, "When I turn 60." That's how he talks. "When I turn 60 I'm going to, I maybe start weed." So our friend got him a vape, from here, and —

Helen: Like from New York?

Jen: From New York, and we took it — and obviously we'd never bring it back — and he fucking loves it! Like, he actually just enjoys it so much, and like, just uses it sort of as a tool of dealing with people at Rhum Corner when he's sitting there. He's an artist, he's a painter, but he sort of watches Rhum Corner and is the face of it, really. And, yeah, I'm so worried, I'm getting to my original — I'm so worried that he's going to just, like, leave weed in my bag before I come to America, and I'm going to end up in one of your jails.

Helen: Oh, we'll come get you.

Jen: I’ll have weed.

Greg: That’s a pretty soft drug these days in terms of law enforcement, I think, you know?

Jen: But you can still go to jail for it.

Helen: You can still get fucked, yeah.

Jen: And at the border? Come on.

Helen: Though there's a really fascinating sort of salutary neglect around it, to even bring it back to restaurants, I think. Like, Jeremiah Tower very famously served that weed consommé back in the ’70s, and sort of perfectly timed it so that it was served at the point in the meal where you would reach, like, perfect stonedness, just as the dessert course was served. And it elevated the bliss of it. But there was a recent incident in New York, at a restaurant that I will not name —

Jen: That’s no fun.

Helen: Where a chef was making a special dessert. And it was a cake that was frosted with weed-spiked ganache.

Jen: And they didn't tell anyone?

Helen: I think they didn't tell anyone till it landed on the tables, and it’s — if you have any experience cooking with THC, it's really hard to — not that I do, I mean, but, like —

Jen: I know.

Helen: It's hard to control the concentration and the levels, and that's why you have things like Maureen Dowd writing these crazy columns where she's like, "I like lost my mind in a Denver, Colorado, hotel room because I ate too much weed, and I was like, clawing up the walls and forgot who I was." But if you're going to make a cake frosted with weed frosting, it's difficult to control how stoned you're going to get your guests. And people were freaking out. Like, it was way overdone.

Jen: We had a mushroom tea incident at a staff party once where I was like, "Okay, we're just going eat them from now on." Like, once you add liquid to drugs, it — yeah.

Greg: It's a whole world, those edibles, you know?

Helen: So that's not on the menu, at The Black Hoof, right?

Jen: No, no, no, no.

Helen: So what's the story of The Black Hoof? Like, how did that restaurant come about? It's such a standard-bearer for Toronto's restaurant scene.

Jen: Thank you, that's nice to hear. So you've been there?

Helen: I haven't.

Jen: No, I know, you have to come.

Helen: I will be there soon.

Jen: It feels like such a long story, but I will try to make it brief. It started with me dreaming about working in a restaurant, owning a restaurant where I could go to work in jeans and Converse and listen to My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mary Chain — I'm so sorry, the kids, that you don't know who those awesome bands are — and have an environment that was cool and cultivated to what I had sort of decided cool was as a teenager. And that still hasn't left me, as you can see by what I'm wearing.

Greg: Had you worked in restaurants that didn't have that kind of loose atmosphere?

Jen: Actually, no. I've been to many of them. I used to own a bar in my 20s, with my ex-husband. I was like, "Oh, get married at 20, super good idea." So as the marriage and the business fell apart, I had met Roland, who is, as I mentioned, the greatest person ever. And I was living this life of kind of a housewife. Like, he was supporting me. I didn't want to lose my house, and thank god I held onto it, because we just bought it a few years ago. And he was supporting me and — like, really supporting me. I couldn't get a job anywhere because my résumé had said, you know, "Owned such and such a place." And I realized very quickly that's why I couldn't get a job. So eventually I changed it to manager, and I got a job. But I was just, I was cooking food every day, and I was sort of dreaming about this restaurant. But at the same time, I was not sure that I even wanted to do that. Which is kind of hard for me to think about because I actually at the time was so happy. Just going to the market and buying shit and then cooking it, and trying to get my stepson to eat my food. And I was like, "I really can bake a pie," and he's like, "My mom's pie is better!" Um, but we're totally cool now.

Helen: You’ve solved the pie problem.

Jen: I’ve solved the pie problem. So, I eventually realized I didn't like working for other people. I mean, this was not a big surprise. I kind of knew that already, and I had to figure something out. So it's kind of a long, complicated, convoluted story, but my husband and his ex-wife owned the building that The Black Hoof is currently in. It was their financial tie. They eventually sold it, and I leased the space back from the new owners, so that's kind of weird, but that's what happened. And I planned everything sort of meticulously. I knew exactly what I wanted. I was starting. And good advice if you're gonna, like, start a restaurant: start it in a place where washrooms already exist, and you don't have to spend that much money. Basically, I think we did it for under $70,000 — Canadian dollars, which is, like, nothing. It's like two bucks.

Greg: Don't turn a nothing space into a restaurant space?

Jen: If you can avoid it. I mean, I now know how to do that, but as a first-time restaurateur, it was great. Like, "There's a bar, oh, that's where the bar will go." Um, and there was no space. I don't know if you have any idea, have seen pictures, but the kitchen is behind the bar. It's the smallest — it's like a walk-in closet, it's so small, and we have three dudes back there. So I sort of planned everything and was working on it and thinking about the space and thinking about the food. I knew I needed a cook, so I was going to hire someone And then I was like, "Why don't I just make someone take this risk with me?" Which I did, and perhaps that was not the greatest choice ever. The partnership did not end incredibly well, but it happened, and he's a great cook, and there's no question about that. And I couldn't have done any of this without his, you know, input in the kitchen.

So it was great, but it was difficult. And now I'm not scared to reach out and find other chefs, which is something, as a restaurateur, which is kind of... People don't talk about it very often — so, great, I should totally do that now — where you can't cook, and you really need to rely on the ability of cooks and chefs to do that for you. And it really has been gratifying to work with people who I don't have those kind of problems with. Like Jesse who runs The Hoof now — it's been three years, it's been amazing. And yeah, I wasn't sure when I could find that.

Greg: Was this a collaborative food idea, like, you and your first partner? Did you decide, "We’re going to — this is what were going to do"?

Jen: Yeah, I knew what I wanted, and...

Helen:We're going to do charcuterie, and we're going to do —

Jen: I had the idea to do charcuterie and I think he probably had that idea separately. I put an ad on Craigslist, and that's how we came together. And, I mean, we never would have been friends in real life. We were just very, very different people. And —

Greg: What was his name?

Jen: It's Grant. His name is Grant. I mean, it's easy information to find. Grant van Gameren. So, yeah, I mean, he's gone on to huge success with his new places. I'm so much happier being a single owner with, what do you call it, single proprietor? So I think it was like the best thing for both of us. There's no question, but it was a great lesson. And I think if I could go back in time, I probably would have hired him.

Helen: I’m really interested in this dynamic between the restaurateur who isn't a cook —

Jen: It is interesting.

Helen: Certainly on The Upsell, for the most part, the people we've been talking to are cooks who have become restaurateurs. And they —

Jen: It's a separate thing.

Helen: It is a very different thing, and they talk to us not infrequently about the difficulties of learning how to manage, and learning how to sort of shift into a different headspace when it comes to thinking about the baseball team that is all of your employees, and how do you keep them happy? And how do you be a good manager while still staying creatively fulfilled as a cook? But you are coming at this from a very different place.

Jen: Yeah, it's really interesting. I think it's very hard to manage people. I was just talking to someone last night about this and what I do. And I mean, I can open restaurants and make restaurants with one arm tied behind my back. I find it very easy, which is why I was saying earlier that if I sort of am identified at my death as a restaurateur, I will have woefully fucked up my 40s. It's not what I want to do forever. I mean, it's fun, I enjoy it, I love it, and I know that it's challenging, and I know that it’s hard for a lot of people. I'm not trying to be glib about it, but I get it. I'm good at it, and I want to do other things. But managing people is the most challenging thing in the world.

It's so difficult, and if you're already kind of in that zone of being a chef and being a cook and so focused on that, to add being a restaurateur on top of that...Maybe Danny Meyer has done some work to change this, but I think a lot of the time the art of the restaurateur, the craft of the restaurateur, it's very ignored. If my restaurant, The Black Hoof, had opened with brighter lights and quiet music, which was certainly still the trend in Toronto at that time — The Hoof really did change that — it would be a completely different story. And a lot of people would argue that, and a lot of "friends of cooks" would say, "Well no, if the food is good, the food is good." And that can be true in a certain kind of restaurant, but it's not true in a casual fine-dining restaurant. The atmosphere is hugely important, it gets very downplayed and underplayed, the role of that.

Helen: How did you learn all of that?

I can walk into a restaurant and immediately feel what's wrong in there.

Jen: By getting life. Yeah, honestly. I don't know how to answer any differently. I can walk into a restaurant and immediately feel what's wrong in there. And it's very rare that I walk into a room where food is happening and I feel like it's right.

Helen: What restaurants do you think are close to perfect?

Jen: Joe Beef. They are the group, in the world, in my country, that I am so happy to...they can be better than me, and it's okay. They're great at it. Their rooms feel perfect; they're bustling to me. That's an important thing, too, is [having] just a bustling energy, people being in there. But the lighting's right, it's like just — you can just barely see. Have you been to any? No? Okay, so Joe Beef is the original one. I think it just hit ten years, or is about to hit ten years, and then Liverpool House and now Vin Papillon — I pretty much eat there every week. I'm in Montreal every week now, so I get a hand plate and drink a lot of wine and eat all the delicious food. They really nailed it, they really nailed it. And I don't think I can think of a place in North America that's sort of a nighttime dining destination that does it better than they do.

Greg: This is really interesting. We've talked to some people on the show, and we've never talked about this exact thing. It's the vibe.

Jen: Oh really. Yeah, vibe is everything!

Greg: It's everything. It's the make-it-or-break-it. When I talk to people sometimes, it's described as "the X-factor," you know?

Jen: Mm-hmm. Do you know, that's why people don't talk about it. Because when —

Helen: It's the water that we swim in.

Jen: Exactly. When you walk into a room and everything is right, you don't really necessarily understand why, it just feels good.

Greg: There's a lot of restaurants I go to where the food is okay, but it's that other thing that's the reason to go there. I'm just wondering: How do you control that? How do you put it together?

Jen: It's curating!

Greg: When you walk into your restaurant, what are you looking for?

Jen: It's curating. So if I go in there right now, on a Monday night, and that happens to be the night where Jake the manager isn't there, and where I'm not there, necessarily, for the entire service. So, that's a true fact sometimes: I'm not in my restaurant all the time.

Greg: What?

Helen: Like, right now you're in New York City.

Jen: I used to be! I fucking earned it. I did every single service for years and years and years, and now I don't do that, but I do work every single Saturday night, and I do the hosting shift. Anyway, so when I walk in, I can feel if the lights are too bright, like, immediately, immediately. And I just go over and very slowly lower them. There's nothing worse when you're sitting in a room and the lights just go down quickly ’cause a manager was like, "What the fuck?" and did it, and they didn't do it right. You just really want the things behind the curtain to remain behind the curtain as much as possible, despite having an open kitchen. Music, I mean, music's a really big part of that. If the music is not at the — we kind of have this magic spot where the music's loud enough that it creates kind of this little cave over every table, where two people can hear each other but nobody can really hear what they're saying. So that’s exactly where I want it to be. And the way the room looks, just in general — it should just feel comfortable. I don't know, just everything — you have to understand that stuff really, really well, and a lot of people don't.

Helen: Are you really good at, like, assessing — that feels like the kind of skill that really is just, you're good at observing humans. Like, what makes people happy, what makes people comfortable.

Jen: Micro-expressions.

Helen: Yeah, it's like being the psychologist of a room.

Jen: It is like that, and I definitely — I try not to be like that when I'm dining for pleasure, which I do a lot, because I still — despite being deeply entrenched in restaurants, I still really enjoy the culture. So, but I can't turn it off sometimes, I just can't help myself, just being like, "Turn the fucking music up! It's too quiet in here, it feels weird."

Helen: Well, it's like throwing a party, too.

Jen: Yeah, it is a little bit like that.

Helen: And I think that's maybe a vector in, which, like, I've never opened a restaurant, but I know what it's like to have my party feel totally wrong and not quite figure out how to fix it. And it — usually the right answer is darker room, louder music.

Jen: Yeah, it’s true. Servers also, I forgot about the importance — the role that servers play. I am so careful about who I hire to the point where I think a lot of people really, really don't like me, because they came in for service dossiers, and —

Helen: "I hear she's a real bitch."

Jen: "I hear she's a real bitch," exactly! There’s a whole essay about it! And I don't hire them because they don't make sense, they're not a fit, they don't — they're not it-getters. I don't know exactly how to put my finger on it, but I’m, like, really, really careful. And as a result, almost no one quits. We're hiring someone at The Hoof, so if you know anyone good, that would be great! We'll move you to Toronto. It's been three years since I had to hire someone, and I'm dreading it. ’Cause I hate having to go through that process with someone.

Greg: I was totally blown away — and I guess that people must mention this to you all the time, but on The Black Hoof's website, your homepage, you have this really sweet profile of, like, every single person that works there.

Jen: Oh, thanks! I'm so glad you noticed that. It’s a thing I feel like we did a long time ago, and now I'm starting to see other people doing it. And that’s, again, like — people don't really talk about it because, and this is the fucked-up thing about the world of restaurants. Owners don't talk to each other about truthy things very often, unless you're really, really close. Like, you go into someone's restaurant — I'm totally going to come circle back, I promise — you come into someone's restaurant and you're just like, I never even ask people how the night was because I actually get annoyed by that question. But if you were to say to your restaurant pal, peer, "How was your night?" Like, "Oh, so busy!" and its like, well — you see the servers being like, "Well, actually it wasn’t." And it's just this sort of illusion that we have to sell each other that's like, "Everything's fine, you guys!" And it's such a strange thing because people will very easily try to ignore the good things that you might do as an innovator so that they can also do those things and not be seen as ripping you off.

Greg: I know this phenomenon of which you speak.

Jen: It's a thing. I'm sure it's a thing in your industry. And I mean, it's just — I don't know, it's a really hard thing to talk about because now I’m, like, watching my brain stilt my words so that I don't accidentally sound like a total asshole.

Greg: Well, I've just never seen any website or —

Helen: I think it's the best restaurant website. Like, period.

Jen: We’ve got to get some music on that splash page, though, right?

Helen: Oh, yeah, and definitely make sure that the PDF of the menu takes forever to load.

Jen: Forever.

Greg: Just don't put the hours anywhere.

Jen: No, no, you have to look for them. It’ll be like a fun hunt! Yeah, it's a good one. I was, the guys that did it are just incredible. They — John Thai and Zack Ginies. Yes! I did it! They're incredible, and I'm sure that they have had other requests for similar looks, but they won't do that. This is ours, and they made it for us.

Greg: I mean, that's the kind of cool thing, though, I mean—

Jen: Oh, yeah, I love my staff, that's what we were talking about.

Greg: Oh, yeah, yeah, I mean, I just think it's really cool to get that profile of the dishwasher, and the busser, and, you know —

Jen: I wrote all those — and this is another thing, and I'll try to keep this rant as tight as possible. A lot of restaurant people hire PR people to do the things on their website. Like, I personally wrote those things because I wanted my voice to sound like — to come through. Our wine list, Jake does a really good job of doing the voice that we kind of created, about sort of the irreverent kind of descriptions about wine that we started doing a long time ago in Toronto. And now you see other people doing it, it's great. It's great! So I think that when you're hiring somebody to make your playlist, which I would never do, like, I obsess over the music. And I think that's why it feels the way it feels, because I put my hand in everything, I’m, I guess, a little controlling. I don't know if that's coming across. And I put my hands in everything, and I held on so tight for so long, but I eventually got a really amazing group of people out of it. And they all get a restaurant or a bar at the end of the game, that's the carrot. And I'm going to deliver it, and I mean it sincerely because they — now I can do things like this, and be in New York, because I know that, David and Jake are holding down the restaurant, and everything's great.

Helen: I guess you sort of preempted the question I was going to ask, which is if you're super, lets say, detail-oriented, about everything in your restaurant, how do you scale? Like, how do you have multiple restaurants, or how do you have multiple restaurants in multiple cities?

Jen: Can I tell you in a year? That's a great question. I don't know. And I think part of it is going to be, and this is definitely shooting myself in the foot, but I'm just so good at it — at shooting myself in the foot, I mean — I think part of it is going to be having to let go a little bit, about some of those things. And just understanding that when Agrikol opens, that there'll be certain details where, yes, of course, we're going to be there every single weekend for like six months. We're going to be in Montreal and be in Toronto, like, the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday instead. And I'm knowing that, somebody’s going to be watching Toronto, It’ll be okay. Pardon me, but to build up for the first six months, the first year, you need to be there. And after that, I'm just going to have to be like, "Okay. This person has to keep an eye on this thing, but I hopefully did a good job of making a foundation in it."

Greg: So, Agrikol. You and your husband, and Win and Régine —

Jen: Right.

Helen: From Arcade Fire.

Greg: Arcade Fire.

Helen: Such a really good band.

Greg: So, how did this happen? Were they fans of your other restaurants? Did you go to them, did they come to you?

Jen: I don't go to people — no, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. They actually came into Rhum Corner, through Owen Pallett, who is a wonderful Canadian musician.

Greg: Love him, yeah.

Jen: Isn't he something? Oh my God.

Greg: Yeah. He's a real iconoclast.

Jen: So good at making cool, interesting music. Um, so he —

Helen: I’ve never heard of him and I feel stupid.

Jen: It's okay.

Greg: He has another name, right? Doesn't he go under, like, Final Fantasy or something?

Jen: It used to be, wow, well done! It used to be.

Helen: Greg is in the loop.

Jen: Now he's just releasing stuff as Owen Pallett, and he also plays in Arcade Fire. So that's that connection, and he's like, "Hey, you guys, you have to see this, it's a Haitian restaurant, it's cool." Like, these are his words. "And you have to come." And so he brought them there, I think, the night before or the night after their Toronto show last August, so less than a year ago. Um, and I was just sitting — actually, I haven’t told this story — I was sitting in the corner, just quietly kind of, like, slurping on rosé, cause I was periody and I didn't feel like talking to anyone. Roland was like, "No, you have to come say hi to them, they are here," like, "Come say hi." I was like, "No, I don't want to go say hi to rock stars, that feels weird and not authentic, and I don't want to do it." And he's like "Okay, fine." So he's like, "Hey, Régine, Régine, come here, come here." Because they'd already been talking. So he drags Win and Régine through the restaurant, which was so adorable, and then we ended up, and I was like, "Oh, God, I'm being an asshole!" This is ridiculous, I'm a huge fan, this is insane. But we ended up having this great conversation just about the restaurant, and about Haiti, and Régine's heritage is Haitian, and Roland grew up in Haiti. So it actually is not just white people opening a Haitian restaurant, you guys — ’cause that's the criticism I've heard lobbied. Lobbed? Lobbed. Lobbed. Both. So we had this great time, we drank some rum. Win ended up blowing the sound system, which was amazing, because all of their percussionists were there. And they just picked up, like, glasses and spoons and, like, did this [clink] with rhythm, and it was —

Greg: Wow.

Helen: Like, in the restaurant?

Jen: In the restaurant. And Roland and Régine were, like, singing at the top of their lungs, and it was just abso— look, I'm getting, like — the hair — it’s cold in here, but the hair is rising on my arms thinking about it, it was so magical.

Greg: It's going to happen every night in your new restaurant.

Jen: Oh, absolutely, 20 bucks, you guys!

Helen: That sounds like the climatic scene of, like, a coming-of-age movie at art school or something, I mean that's so amazing!

Greg: Yeah.

Jen: It was really, really something, and then it was so funny because this kid from the coffee shop was sitting at the bar, and I saw him, a couple weeks later. And he was like, "Oh that was really cool, that, thing that happened there, like, those guys were actually, like, really good at music." And I was like, "Mm-hmm, that's because it was, um, The Arcade Fire," and he was like, "Ohhh." Like, it just hadn't occurred to him that this was — these were actual musicians being talented at music.

Helen: So had Win and Régine been wanting to open a restaurant, and you guys sort of —

Jen: I think so, yeah. I think so, they definitely had been looking at doing something in Montreal for a long time, and then when they saw that, they were "Oh, okay, these are people that understand how to" — or [articularly me, Roland would be mad at me if I even lumped him into that category. "I am an artist."

Helen: Oh my God.

Greg: I really love your impression of your husband, by the way.

Jen: When and if you ever meet him, you will understand how perfect it is. Like, it's really spot-on, I've been doing it for a long time. So they emailed me the next day, and I was working. And I, like, kind of freaked out because I saw Régine's name in my inbox. And I showed one of our servers, and he’s a big fan, and we were just kind of like, "Ah!" Like having a sort of fan moment, it was really funny. And she basically was like, "Hey, so that stuff we talked about last night, maybe we should talk more about it." And so I responded something to the effect of, you know, "Don't tease me, this is like my dream, to open a restaurant in Montreal, and this could be amazing, don't joke about this." And we got the ball rolling, and we signed a lease in January. It's crazy.

Helen: And it's gonna open really soon.

Jen: I really hope so, yes. It’s, um, Montreal is so much red tape and bureaucracy for a place where, like, it's all strippers and fun, I don’t — it doesn't make any sense. It is — and every single restaurant person I've talked to is just like, "Oh, yeah, welcome to Montreal. That's what it's like. Oh, also, construction's really expensive here, enjoy." It's fucked, it's so crazy. So things have slowed, I was hoping we would be open by August when we started this, and now it's looking probably more like, I don’t know, the fall, let's say the fall.

Helen: Yeah.

Greg: Is there going to be some sort of charitable element to this? Or, I know that Win and Régine, they have some sort of connection to Haiti, right? Like, in a charitable sense, or am I just making that up?

Jen: Well, I mean, I always think of my restaurants as charitable because I'm giving so much.

Greg: Right. I could have been just misinterpreting something I read.

Helen: I love that.

Jen: Well, Régine is involved with a phenomenal organization called Kanpe. And we recently went to Haiti with them. And if you're going to go Haiti, go with rock stars. It was — and like, not in a sense of just being taken care of, it wasn't like that at all — they just know all the right people to get shit done. It was incredible. We, it was — first of all, I got to see the place that my husband came from. Which is, I mean, a fascinating thing. It’s, you know, a very complicated relationship with a country like Haiti when you come from there, it's not an easy place to grow up. And so I got to see that, and that was just, like, again, its own thing. We also had packed days. And one of the days was going to Kanpe, going to the school, music school, hospital, that they have created out of nothing that serves like 6,000 people or something. I don’t know, I hope I don't get that quote, that number wrong, but it was just incredible, and it was really like — you know, getting greeted by kids who’d had brass instruments given to them last November and had already kind of mastered them. And there's hundreds of kids singing and playing these instruments and kind of leading us up toward the school as we pull into this — I mean, the car ride was two hours, it was like, too raw a car ride. It was crazy, I've never — it wasn't a road, that wasn't a road, it was like going through rivers and just — [crunch] — all over the car for just two straight hours, and then we pull up to this sort of magical place in the hills of the mountains, and I don't know. It was unbelievable, unbelievable. So her organization that she works with is incredible and does amazing work.

Helen: That’s amazing. So you have also kind of taken on a cause of your own, to do, like, a —

Jen:n I forgot about that. You don't want to be an activist you guys!

Helen: Really? I'm doing, like, a super un-slick segue here. You're putting together a conference called Kitchen Bitches

Jen: Yes.

Helen: Which is going to be in Toronto —

Jen: Smashing the patriarchy, one plate at a time. That's the key to the tagline.

Helen: Smashing the patriarchy, one plate at a time, which I am a huge fan of, both conceptually and specifically. And I think it's really thrilling and, you know, part of why I was so excited to get to know you and to have you on The Upsell, because I think you are one of the few people who's really outspoken about that aspect of restaurant life in public.

Jen: Sometimes I feel like the only one, yeah.

Helen: Yeah, I think, you know, talking to chefs, both women and men, I think, well, the good ones, at least, the good-hearted ones will, without hesitation, say, "Oh, yeah, like, kitchens are awful, sexism is present, and women have a complete shit time working in most restaurants." But it's very rare that someone with a platform like you, with a big Twitter account and with a loud voice in your community and in the restaurant world at large, will sort of just stand up and be like, "No, this is a huge fucking problem, let's fix it." And that's really cool, that's not a question. You're cool.

Jen: No, I'm thinking — you know what I'm thinking about is everything's pulsing so fast through my head about all of this sort of quietness of my peers, and then the backlash of me even daring to judge that, and who am I to judge what people say and do, and can't they just cook, and whatever. Like, it’s been really interesting — fascinating to me to see this play out. And —

Greg: People say, "Can't I just cook?"

Jen: I mean, I don't know. I probably, like—

Greg: But like, that's kind of the attitude?

Jen: The attitude that I feel, and I deeply feel it in my hometown, where I don't have a lot of peer support in this — and I also went on a huge rant about that. I mean, why are people not standing up and saying, you know, and like, why are people still supporting the people that own this restaurant. Why would you have, like, a staff party at another one of that guy's restaurants at this point in time, it just feels tone-deaf.

Helen: So, to rewind a little bit, the restaurant you're talking about is one that was sued, right? It's a —

Jen: I don't know, I think, I don't want to see —

Helen: There was a catalyzing event that basically created this whole conversation.

Jen: Yeah, yeah, so I think I'm free to talk about this stuff. I'm pretty sure that I can talk about it.

Helen: You can talk about it if you want to.

Jen: A pastry chef came forward, Kate Burnham, who is a wonderful person. I'm so delighted to have gotten to know her. Unfortunately, it's over circumstances that are awful. Um, and she, she went to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, I think it's called, and alleges that all of this dreadful stuff happened to her. I happen to believe her.

Helen: Like sexual harassment, and —

Jen: Sexual harassment, I mean, just really — like, hollandaise sauce sprayed in her hair, as though the hollandaise —

Helen: Not in a brunch way.

I've had cooks come to me in tears because of the way the chef is treating them, and yet there's this sort of weird, master-servant attachment that exists between the chef and the kitchen.

Jen: —is cum. Like, "Ha, that's so funny." And the thing — okay, so let me segue just for one second. The thing about this that I think a lot of people are getting their back up about is, "Oh, well, you want to just be all, like, lefty, and be p.c., and take the 'fuck' out of kitchens." I can't ever take the 'fuck' out of the kitchen, ever. It's the Wild West, it's always going to be like that, but do we have to humiliate and embarrass people who are just trying to prep their mise? Just because they maybe seem like the weakest link? And unfortunately, a lot of the times, that's women. That's not to say this doesn't happen to men, I've seen it happen. I've had cooks come to me in tears because of the way the chef is treating them, and yet there's this sort of weird, master-servant attachment that exists — oh, good, another thing no one ever talks about — between the chef and the kitchen. Where you can, like, really break people, and they will still respect you. And that's fucked up. And I mean, culturally, I don't understand it. And I try to lead in a different way. I mean, I had to learn that lesson as well. I think I used to be a lot harder on my staff than I am now, although I was never, like, humiliation hard on them, but I saw it happen, and I've seen it happen, I've heard stories, so I mean, that's more what I'm trying to do is like, yeah, we can all still have fun and swear and be dirty and gross, like, we're in the confines of a small room, but the moment that there's something that's happening where a person is being singled out for being gay, for being a woman, for being not a white dude, for whatever. Then that's a problem, and I think it's really time we talked about it.

Helen: I think there's a big fear, and again, I don't think this is exclusive to food, but I think that within the food world, there's a big fear of rocking the boat.

Jen: Oh, yeah.

Helen: I mean, there's — it's always scary to be the person who speaks up. And it's also, I think, very hard to build up the confidence to do it in the first place, and to feel confident that you are legitimately speaking truth to power as opposed to, like, just complaining, or just being an asshole.

Jen: Which is, I mean, I get that all the time, I mean, I personally don't get scared of it. It's my personality. I thrive on it, I enjoy talking about these things, and the controversy doesn't really scare me, but I actually just got a text right before we started [this recording] from somebody, ’cause I was sort of giving him a hard time for not being vocal enough over wine last night, I was just re-texting him, and being maybe a little too judgey on him. And I texted him this morning and said, like, "I’m sorry that I was so hard on you, it's just that sometimes I feel like I'm out here on a really spindly tree with a really long branch, just, like, hanging on by myself," and he was like, "Well, you are." And that’s, I mean, that should be scary.

Helen: Yeah.

Jen: But I don’t know, it just, it isn't, like, if not me, who? Somebody has to do this.

Helen: What's confusing to me is the, the sort of intensity with which certain chefs or restaurateurs, or just sort of observers and fans, want to cling to destructive systems. That's what it means for something to be a systemic problem.

Jen: Exactly.

Helen: Right, is that it's not just like you personally making personal choices. It’s that, like, there's a system that exists, and we're all born into it, and we grow up in it, and it shapes the way we perceive things, and it's like, hard, and difficult, and shitty to change the way you see it.

Jen: It is so hard, and I know you get it, and I know, I assume, you get it.

Helen: Greg is a card-carrying feminist.

Jen: I love it, you know, but I also talked to a lot of sort of liberal, 35-to-45-year-old male white writers who, like, think they get it. Who really think they are feminists, and they are simply not.

Greg: Well, I think that there's been, like, lets say —

Jen: Not all men hashtag!

Greg: Not to interrupt, but I feel like the last 20, 30 years of a lot of food writing, and especially memoirs and stuff by chefs, you know, kind of pulled the curtain back on the kitchen or whatever, established all these sort of shows in the kitchen —

Jen: Kitchen Confidential, obviously, the big one.

Greg: Yeah, but it's all been predominantly white men talking, you know, like, I’m thinking, I just read that Marco Pierre White, his biography —

Jen: Oh my God, he's so funny. It's so funny, it's so poorly written, but it's just like, ah, you can't stop reading it!

Helen: But it's this glorification — and I mean, look, it's fun! I don't want to — this is the thing that’s a problem, too, when you criticize this sort of thing, is you constantly have to hedge it, be like, "No, no, no, I'm really happy to, like, say, ‘fuck’ as many times as you need me to say it." But it's so fun to read about these crazy, violent, fucked up, emotionally abusive, totally volatile environments.

Jen: Well, a kitchen attracts people like that, though, too.

Greg: They're not front of the house, you know.

Jen: No.

Helen: Well, and I wonder also how much of this — I mean, I think that, you know, society as a whole is slowly but surely becoming more inclusive and more willing to grant fundamental notions of humanity to, like, nonwhite men, basically. But it also is, I think —

Jen: It's been forced to, you know, it doesn't want to.

Helen: Well, like you were saying earlier in our conversation, a different type of person is now being attracted to becoming a chef. And it used to be a very lost boys kind of thing. Right, like, you get kicked out of school, or you drop out of school. Or you can't handle whatever sort of standard structure people who don't become cooks are able to handle. And so the kitchen attracts this sort of pirate-ship crew of people who, like, don't fucking care, or they care, but along different vectors.

Jen: It will always be like that, though. I think despite the fact that other kind of people are coming in with these, like, Food Network dreams, you know, they don't tend to last. Unless they sort of land that TV deal, you know?

Greg: I mean, I'm like, thrilled that you're writing a book —

Jen: Oh, thanks!

Greg: And that you're going to have this conference, because maybe you can help the rest of the world understand what those lines are. You know —

Jen: Born for it.

Greg: Well, no, I mean, this is just this thing, like, I was thinking.

Jen: I hope so.

Greg: For the past 20, 30 years, we've gotten all this peek behind the kitchen, and it's all this kind of male-dominated, white-male-dominated stuff. And now more people are attracted to the kitchen. People know more about that stuff, but now there’s, like, you know, there's more —

Jen: I don’t know that —

Greg: I just think it's going to take — hopefully, it will take time, but it's great that people are —

Jen: Not in my lifetime, its not gonna, I think —

Helen: No, but I think Greg is right. I think that as more women enter the cooking space, as more queer people enter the cooking space, as more people of color start entering the cooking space and are not, like, ghettoized into only being allowed to cook foods of their own heritage —

Jen: Yeah, that’s a thing.

Helen: There will be a much more egalitarian vibe in the kitchen, because it's not going be a default that some dude who thinks it's hilarious to squirt hollandaise cum in your hair is the boss.

For a long time in kitchens, it's been really cool to be a dirtbag, and people are able to get away with it. And nobody really wants to see my list of places that are like this, because if I show you my list, there's literally nowhere left to eat.

Jen: Yeah. No, it’s all, that's the whole point, is it's all about changing that culture. Like, bylaws and laws are useless in this scenario, that has nothing to do with it. It's all about sort of changing the culture and making people that kind of support the old regime look and feel like the dinosaurs that they are. I mean, for a long time in kitchens, it's been really cool to be a dirtbag, and people are able to get away with it. And nobody really wants to see my list of places that are like this, because if I show you my list, there's literally nowhere left to eat. So no one really wants to see that, and I don't want to do that. I don't want to be like, "Don't go here, don't go here, these people are the worst." But that's a big part of it, is there's going to always be that.

Greg: It's going to be a big change.

Jen: Well, we'll see, we'll see. I hope so.

Helen: Yeah, maybe the assholes will all die eventually.

Jen: That's a good way to look at it.

Greg: Except for that one, the immortal asshole.

Helen: From whom all assholery flows. Anyway, Jen. We have a thing that we do to wrap up all of our episodes of The Eater Upsell. It's called the Lightning Round.

Jen: Okay. I am not prepared, let's see how this goes.

Helen: That's cool, you don't need to be prepared.

Jen: That’s the point.

Helen: We're just going to ask you some questions, and you tell us the first thing that comes into your head, or the truth, or both, or not, just say whatever you want.

Jen: I’m always trying to be truthy.

Greg: Question No. 1: What is your airport vice? You're at the airport, what do you do?

Jen: Dick around on my phone, that's the truth.

Helen: What do you buy?

Jen: A magazine. Like, a shitty one, but not too shitty, like Nylon. That's what I bought on my way here. They didn't have New York magazine, that's what I would have bought, it's a good airplane mag.

Greg: Very, very classy tastes there. Airport literature.

Helen: That’s a high bar for shitty.

Jen: Should I buy porn? Only porn. I only buy porn when I fly. Can you imagine sitting on a plane next to somebody who's looking at porn?

Helen: That's happened to me.

Jen: No way! Oh, that's amazing!

Helen: Oh yeah. I mean, you're making the, like, holding-a-magazine gesture, but it was far worse because he was watching it on his laptop. It was a video, and it was hard-core. And I —

Jen: That's so fucked up!

Helen: It was so fucked up, and he was like a totally normal-looking dude, it wasn't like, you know —

Greg: Those are the ones you got to be creeped out by the most, actually —

Jen: He's not, I assume, jerking off —

Helen: He was not.

Jen: So he's just watching —

Helen: For the plot, I guess.

Greg: Listen, like — "I’m watching it for the story, okay!"

Jen: I really like your generic white deep voice. I mean, I'm presuming he was a white dude, okay.

Helen: He was a white dude, he was.

Jen: Oh my God. Not all white dudes.

Helen: Yeah, oh my God. Anyway.

Jen: Okay, sorry I derailed the lightning round, you guys, I'm sorry.

Helen: When you walk into a bar you've never been to —

Jen: That almost never happens, but okay.

Helen: What is the drink that you order?

Jen: Um, it depends. I always want, like, weirdo natural wine. That's my first instinct, is to have, like, a glass of white or rosé, but if I'm at a bar where that's a stupid idea, I'm probably going to either go gin and tonic, and I'm going to tell them how to make it, or, like, rum and Coke, if they have a decent rum.

Helen: How do you make the gin and tonic?

Jen: Well, I mean, the same way you make a rum and Coke, and the same way you make any mixed drink, which is lots of booze, like two ounces at a minimum, tons of ice, ideally Kold-Draft dense ice, like, that's actually a thing. You shouldn't be using shitty ice that melts fast, in water, that wrecks your drink. Basically, like two-to-one, two-to-one. You don't really want to put more than double the amount of booze of Coke. So, yeah, that's kind of the perfect drink. You're welcome.

Greg: You are on a road trip, by yourself. What is the music you’re blasting and screaming?

Jen: Stone Roses. Oh, that was easy.

Greg: Stone Roses, really?

Jen: That was so easy. Okay, Stone Roses, Pixies, Jesus and Mary Chain, would probably be — New Order — are probably my favorite driving —

Greg: Stone Roses are one of my favorite bands, and nobody ever wants to listen to them.

Jen: Because we're old. Like, this is the thing, I mean, I still love the jingle-jangle of, you know, that entire album, really. And that's the kind of music that gets me, and it, like, shoves me back in time, to driving around in my black Volkswagen Passat when I was a teenager, which was, like, really, the coolest car you could have as a teenager, and, like, going through the valleys of Scarborough and, like, actually just blasting it and singing along. Oh my God, he was like, "I was just saying you were cool before, but now, like, oh, wow, you're actually kind of cool."

Helen: Greg looks really happy.

Jen: I know! Like, his whole face changed!

Greg: You just never hear anybody talk about the Stone Roses anymore.

Jen: The Stone Roses are the best/ I've never seen them live, which is, like, very upsetting to me. Have you?

Greg: No, no.

Jen: See, because they don't get over here. It's a thing, they don't come here.

Greg: I didn't even know they still played any shows.

Jen: I don't really think they do, but they should. You guys, get back together, get the band back, let's do this!

Helen: They definitely listen to this podcast. I'm sure they do.

Jen: I'm sure they do.

Helen: If you were not a restaurateur slash memoirist slash rabble-rouser, what would you be doing with your life?

Jen: Oh, I don't know, just, like, fucking and drinking wine?

Helen: Good money in that?

Jen: There's a whole industry in that, and it's not wine, it's something else. No, you know, I don't know. Like, I like a lot of stuff, I really love designing my restaurants, so I think I would — but I wouldn't at all love designing someone else's restaurant. So, yeah, I don’t know, design shit, maybe?

Helen: That's cool.

Greg: Yeah, that's awesome.

Jen: Wait, is that it? Is there more? Come on! This is fun, this is like, the funnest part!

Greg: Well, Jen, thank you so much for stopping by the studio today.

Jen: So fun, you guys!

Greg: And your Twitter handle is @TheBlackHoof?

Jen: That's right.

Helen: That's awesome. Jen is a real firebrand. Check out that Twitter account. Cool. Thanks, Jen!

Jen: That was great, you guys!

Helen: You're amazing!

Jen: I think my hangover went away, too. That was so amazing.

Greg: Oh, yay!

The Eater Upsell
· Subscribe on iTunes
· Listen on Soundcloud
· Subscribe to the RSS
· See the archives

The Black Hoof

928 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6J 1W3 416-551-8854
Features

Alton Brown Is the Food World's Philosopher King

Features

A Brief History of Modern American Dining, Featuring Andrew Zimmern

Features

Carla Hall Is a Total Badass, Culinarily and Otherwise

View all stories in Eater's Digest

Sign up for the Sign up for the Eater newsletter

The freshest news from the food world every day