Chapter 3 : Mise En Plase

By: Lex J. Mendez

A “Mise En Plase” is a culinary term which essentially means having everything out together in one place in order to execute a recipe. This resonates with life as well, you can have a “Mise” ready for your life, but like in the kitchen one small grain of salt can hit differently and chaos can ensue. 

I thought I had a “Mise” for summer of 2021. I had freshly succeeded in creating a pop up restaurant and catering business in Denver called Snacktacular, which immediately failed once my co chef decided he was no longer interested in the venture. I can’t blame him getting a brand out is tough. I have a graffiti writers mind set when it comes to shit like that though. I will go out every night and pound out what I want people to see or know until you have to just give in and accept that I am a force in the universe and the force is fucking strong with this one. But, I was just one guy and you need a team to build a brand, without a team, without a family your just a lone wolf hungrily looking for the next meal.

And the next meal led me to back to Chicago from Denver. I was to take over a kitchen where I got drunk at copious amounts of times and even started an R and B party at called don’t drake and Drive. The place was called Whitney’s and the owners were so kidn enough to pay for my flight in so I could get a brunch program going and eventually lead into tinkering the main menu and fully taking over the kitchen. The force among us had other plans. I moved in with a woman and chaos ensued. It was my first attempt ever at living with someone, and to be honest and blunt we just weren’t a right fit. This affected my entire life though, and eventually led to the demise of my new career at Whitney’s. Never abandon your goals to please someone else’s temporary satisfaction, because they will most likely never be satisfied if they are unhappy about someone else chasing their dreams.

The crazy part about it all was the kitchen was my escape from reality in that situation. As much chaos was going on in my home life I found complete focus and brilliance in the kitchen which is physically a chaotic place. I embraced the magic and beauty of dinner and brunch service and was able to vanquish all other negativity around me.

Mental Health is more than wealth. I eventually got myself out of that living situation and unfortunately I had to let down the good men a Whitney’s, but hey that was part of the journey.

If we flash back to 2017 I had a similar experience. I had just quit Kimski because I thought I was guy fieri and deserved a 3 dollar raise (def an alcohol and cocaine infused idea) and started working for one of the city’s top catering companies and part time at one of the cities top BBQ joints. At the time I was also living with a friend who sold cocaine. As I laid down and realized I wasn’t happy with my life essentially being a coke butler helping him with tasks in light of getting free bumps I needed change, so Craiglist was once again my digital savior. On there I found a position at a pizza Spot in Denali Alaska. I told my friend I was leaving the coke butler business to slang pies in the AK at a seasonal resort, he said he was proud of me and didn’t know how to tell me himself that I could do more than be his coke butler. I was relieved and ready to go. After an awesome recommendation from Nando the head chef at the BBQ joint, I was into the wild,and so truly began my Culinary Misadventure. #seasoning

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