My daughter Erica called me last night, somewhere between It’s Really, Really Late and Are You Freaking Kidding Me? This is actually when she normally calls, as she’s walking home from the subway station after she’s gotten done with a long night’s work at Sfoglia, the restaurant where she’s been working. Yesterday was actually her last day working there. She’d been having some difficulties with a few of her co-workers, which had become emotionally draining and was causing her to doubt her own abilities and self-worth. Naturally, this affected her job performance, which only added to the stress. But yesterday – a double-shift for her – was, as she described it, her Best Day Ever there. Actually, most of it wasn’t really there at all; Sfoglia was one of a number of restaurants participating in a charity auction to benefit a private school somewhere in the city, and the Johnny, the Executive Chef, asked Erica to go along and be his assistant there. Apparently, Hugh Jackman’s kid attends this school, and he donated a set of those metal claw-like things that pop out of his hands in the X-Men movies to be auctioned off. Another item there was a Tom Hanks-autographed “Wilson” volleyball. Jackman was there himself, and although he didn’t eat any of their stuff, Erica says she got within a few feet of him. She also served up food to Edie Falco and several other Sopranos stars. More than the actors and actresses, though, she was most awestruck by being in the presence of food guru/chef/resauranteur David Burke, who owns several highly regarded restaurants, including Fishtail, where Erica and I ate last week while I was in town. He came up and tried some of their food, and he chit-chatted a bit with Johnny. For her part, Erica said she tried her best to busy herself with food prep, so she wouldn’t just stand there staring pie-eyed at him. In downtime during the event, Johnny let her go around to the various restaurants’ setups, and she got to sample tons of great food, and even got a little bit of indirect culinary networking in. She enjoyed watching the auction play out, and through the day, she and Johnny got to have a lot of very good, very constructive, very positive and supportive one-on-one conversation, with him telling her very good things about herself and her skills that she really needed to hear after these past several months. It’s just a shame that it took until her last day for her to hear them. Of course, she’s really just starting out in her career and still has much to learn, but he was complimentary and offered to help her in any way he could in the future, including offering a positive reference for her in future job searches. He also extended a complimentary specialty meal for her and a friend at the restaurant on a date of her choosing. They did eventually get back to the restaurant, where the primary trouble-making coworker skulked off into the shadows without saying anything to Erica on this last day, as ignorant, small-minded shit-stirrers so typically end up doing in these situations. In hindsight, Erica realized that was actually the very best thing that could have happened, considering how truly wonderful the whole day turned out for her. Good on ya, Erica; you have the whole world ahead of you. The old man loves you and is so proud of you.