Attica

— Anti-stuffy fine dining

“I remember when I first started when I had more than pizza money and going to nice restaurants and there was a certain sneeriness because me and my friends we were in our early twenties, we’re wearing sneakers, we’ve got backpacks. And they’re like saying stuff like ‘uh, can I take your backpack…’”

“You wonder who’s serving who.”

“We cook our hardest everyday and we cook are most creative and most hardworking but the last two years since we’ve owned Attica has been about creating this thing that is different in that regard. And the way you create that vibe is I think you have to constantly constantly constantly say to the staff: be yourself. But even then, they don’t get it in the beginning because they’ve come from fine dining backgrounds so they’re like ‘ok, I can be myself a little bit but I actually have to be this fine dining person.’”

“There’s a certain way you have to act at fine dining restaurants and it’s formal. And it’s ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and ‘would you like some more of that madam.’ Who the hell talks like that? I mean if you’re on this planet for only so many years, don’t you want to live every aspect of your life to the fullest and have the most fun?”

“So being yourself is absolutely critical to that. And as soon as you don’t be yourself, as soon as you prescribe to being a fine dining waiter or a fine dining chef, you’re not being yourself. It’s not about being real. People are not stupid, it’s acting. All we can ever be is ourselves in life.”

Lee Tran Lam’s lengthy interview with Ben Shewry of Attica on The Incredible Lightness of Being Hungry

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