Tab Tricolore, Chef and Restaurateur
Part two of a three-part series. Click here to read part one.
Knowing how to cook is just the first step on the path to becoming a successful restaurateur. The challenges are enormous for any chef, but for a chef in The Park, those challenges can sometimes seem overwhelming. How do you convince Animals who are used to securing their own sustenance that your food is worth paying for?
“When I started in this business, there was no such thing as fine dining in The Park,” says Tab Tricolore (pronounced “tree-caa-lore-ay”).
The Park’s famous “bad boy chef” and its most successful restaurateur hands his interviewer a drink while he hosts a tour of Klo, The Park’s and his first fine dining establishment.
“What you’re drinking there isn’t just something to quench your thirst,” he says proudly, as he explains the genesis of Klo’s signature drink.
One hot day two Summers ago, he says, he and his entire staff went on a reconnaissance mission. They were searching for the purest water they could find in The Park.
“We had a permit and when we found it [the water], I was going to dig a new well. Just for Klo. But it wasn’t easy. We spent the whole day tapping into every water source we could find, but none of it was as pure as what we could get from the Wishing Well. And I knew we couldn’t take water from the Wishing Well. It’s everybody’s water, and I didn’t have permission to use it,” he says.
Then he had what he calls a light bulb moment. “I asked myself, ‘Why am I planning to serve plain water at all?'” He explains:
“There are some Animals who think they will only drink water but it’s your job as a chef…as a restaurateur…to nudge them away from their routine. If you don’t try and if you don’t succeed, they might as well eat at home. No Park Animal is going to go out to eat — and pay for the privilege — unless they’re offered something different, something superb, something they couldn’t possibly get by themselves. The flavours, the texture, the presentation…you have to offer an extraordinary culinary experience or Animals will not dine at your restaurant.”
Tricolore says that Klo offers all that and more, every day that it is open. And his other restaurants, though not billed as fine dining spots, offer food that adheres strictly to his formula for success. And that is the four “Ls”: local (the food must be locally sourced, that is, grown inside The Park), lovely (to look at, as Tricolore contends the eyes are the gateway to the palate), luscious (in texture, a very important aspect to Tricolore), and lickable (you must want to continue to savour the flavour long after you have finished your meal).
Tricolore talks often about seeing himself as the prime educator of Park Animals’ palates. But the proud owner of The Park’s first fine dining restaurant bristles at the interviewer’s suggestion that Klo was intended to be an exclusive establishment.
“We exclude no Animal,” he says emphatically. And then he turns the conversation to The Tabby Club, which he purchased a few years ago.
“The Tabby Club, now that’s exclusive…and always has been. And I understand that. Jor (The Park’s first leader and the founder of modern zoocracy) opened it for Tabbies, when Tabbies couldn’t get a drink or a meal anywhere else. You can’t get in if you don’t have stripes. You don’t have to be a Cat, but you have to have stripes. And when I bought it, there was all this talk about whether I would change it, whether it would lose its character. But, look, I’m a Tabby, too. I know how the world works. I have no intention of opening it up completely, though it will change along the way. It has to; everything does. But I’m not against keeping it exclusive for a while, just to remind us that this Park is a work in progress. We’re not finished, by any means. And The Tabby Club kind of proves that,” he says.
Then he asks for an opinion of Klo’s signature drink.
The interviewer hesitates, then obliges: “It’s bold, it’s different, full of richness and flavour and it goes down smoothly.” And, if the interviewer may add an “L” to the Tricolore formula, it lingers in your consciousness, much like the chef, himself.