Well! After a year of lurking, someone finally addresses me directly! I can think of no place more appropriate for my debut post than this follow-on to the thread that introduced me to this magnificent site and all of you in the first place. In a four degrees of separation thing, I stumbled onto a rerun episode of The Restaurant a year ago. I wanted to know who that self-worshipping arrogant chef was, and got his name from the Bravo site. Did a google search on him, and one of the first things to pop up was this link to the eGullet "Thread That Wouldn't Quit". I found it interesting that "Nobody" was watching this drivel, yet the thread went on for how many thousands of posts? I openly admit it. I was hooked on the show and thread with the show's actors posting behind the scenes tidbits, including this guy named Bourdain who appeared in one of the episodes with the sort of brutal but honest food critique I give to myself. One copy of Kitchen Confidential later, which I read in two nights, and a goal of eating at the French Laundry, here I am. And Alton Brown only lives a few miles from me. I like to think I'm the best cook I know, and I know I'm the best homebrewer I know. My exposure to a real restaurant kitchen came when I was on a spring break in FL and tried to pick my sister up from the waterfront upscale lobster house in St. Pete that she and the executive chef, also now her ex, owned. The salad guy was a no-show that night, and I literally got Shanghai'ed. I was told later that I turned out 700 dinner salads (I doubt that) in my best Hang Ten beach shirt, and I was also poobah of plating the creme de caramel. However, I observed with fascination how a large professional, and very busy kitchen is run for a whole night. It was an epiphany. As an "Above average" couch potato and very low common denominator, I'm one of those people who did my time for years sitting in my cubicle, dreaming of doing something else where one's creativity could have an outlet. Starting a restaurant always comes to mind, along with the B&B option. I have many friends who think because they've been told at a party their Brunswick Stew is really good, they're ready to chuck a six-figure income and the boredom of a technology career to open a restaurant out west, where no one has ever tasted "Real" Brunswick Stew. One of them included plans for a drive through window, no less, to catch that salivating commuting-home-after-work crowd. I was invited to invest. I passed. I've seen what's involved, and I don't have the guts or dedication to give up my engineering career to go broke. I have a dog to feed, you know. I think the show does send a false impression about what it takes to open, operate, and maintain a profitable restaurant. Even a combination of cooking skill and business savvy isn't enough. Don't underestimate most couch potatoes, though - we get it. As for the show, I'd like to see a lot more of the BOH, where even though many want to carve each other up as the evening's special in the heat of the stress and yelling and frustration, not to mention the heat itself, but they still manage to crank out decent plates night after night and the customers up front never know the difference. It's too bad the cameras always gravitate to the gossipy drama queens in the FOH, where they elbow each other out of frame in a culinary version of roller-derby, but that's what brings in the viewers. Now it's the legal battle of egoes between JC and Rocco. It may not be real, but it is entertainment for an hour, at least until Chappel's Show comes on. Thank you for your time and your dedication to good food. I've learned a lot from reading you for the past year. Here's one lowest common denominator that appreciates it. TomH... BRILLIANT!!!