Culinary Professionals: The Unsung Athletes

One glimpse into the kitchen at Dame—a neighborhood Italian restaurant, plating up heritage-inspired pastas and authentic dishes—and you’ll see a blur of hustle and bustle happening within a tight space. But what if you look closer? You’ll see so much more than Chef Patrick McKee and his close-knit crew spinning, squatting and shuffling from station to station. Each team member contributes to the well-oiled machine that is Dame by carrying out their craft with intention and strategy—just as an NBA team relies on the individual contributions of each player to make a 3-pointer.

When you open your eyes just a bit wider, Dame’s kitchen, and most independent restaurant kitchens for that matter, unveil a truth. Athletes aren’t always found on the field, court, or track. They’re garnering the strength to turn a 100 lb. bag of flour into a dough ball that’s the perfect balance of smooth and elastic. Rolling out the dough. Briskly whisking pots of carbonara. The flick of one’s wrist that happens mid-pan-flip. Dame’s culinary athletes are repeating these motions from lights on ‘til lights out, demonstrating the same level of muscle memory a pro tennis player relies on to perfectly position their forehand to accentuate a flawless whip shot.

From cooks on the line, to those carrying loaded stacks of heavy serve-ware, every recipe takes a team of performers tasked with high physical demands, using their strength, endurance, flexibility and coordination, just to add that finishing touch of shaved truffle to the top of your risotto.

With their aprons and MISE serving as the team’s uniform and the kitchen acting as their arena, Dame’s culinary professionals come together like a well-oiled machine–each member playing a crucial role in the success of the restaurant. They are the culinary athletes, pushing themselves to be the best as a unit, and creating dishes that are nothing short of works of art.

Just as it takes a team to craft a single dish, bringing this story to life required a collective effort. We extend our gratitude to Chef Patrick McKee and his entire crew at Dame Restaurant, who shared their space, and individual stories with us. We’d also like to thank our incredible videographer, Carter Hiyama, for honoring the work of Dame’s culinary athletes with immense skill and creativity.

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