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To Manny, on the First Day of Christmas

December 2, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

Five afternoons a week, Manuel Macias comes through the door at Mizuna, quietly, nearly invisibly, and begins to wash the lobster pots. When the servers and cooks gather around the bar for family meal, sharing food articles and restaurant gossip, Manny takes his meal outside, enjoying a brief moment of peace before the evening’s service.

The sun sets; the dining room fills; Manny attends to the handling of Reidel stemware and laguiole knives (which have to be tended to by hand), an extensive variety of plates in every shape and size, miniature and dessert molds. He will do so with such silent finesse, such precision, such speed–that even working alone in a dish-pit the size of a small utility closet on a weekend night (when Mizuna will serve over a hundred people within her tiny walls), Manny will not break a single crystal stem. He will move stealth-like among the cooks, dropping newly cleaned plates to warm, pots on their racks, pans on their hooks–so that we barely realize we are steadily supplied with essential tools. Silverware appears from seeming nowhere for servers to set new tables. And when Manny leaves on Saturday night—the last man out the door on the final night of the week—he will grab the flowers that sit in the window sill and bring them home to his wife – as he has done at the end of every week, without missing a single evening of Mizuna service, Saturday or otherwise, for over ten years.

Merry Christmas to Manny, who makes this time of year so much easier for all of us at Mizuna.