Amy & Samy helped me find fun again!
About 3 weeks ago now, the most incredible episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares aired, and the Internet had one giant fungasm together. We all have Amy’s Baking Company to thank for the fun we had, as they proved to be fully willing to ratchet up their own vitriol to combat the fiery wall of snark, reckless abuse and unending comedy.
It wasn’t all fun & games, but at least this post will be. I saw their Nightmares episode extremely early in the gestation stage of this fantastic tale, but even at that point, people had taken to Yelp with loads of hate. And to be fair, that stuff is always off-putting. I understand mockery, parody & satire in situations such as the one we were given, but the insults & utter cruelty in the reviews I saw were pretty disgusting, not constructive in the least or even slightly enjoyable. Where some saw a moment to enjoy an Internet meltdown, others got really hateful. Honestly, I really wish that hadn’t happened.
I wanted to get in on some online bullying, though. In the episode, Amy went on and on about bloggers and Internet reviewers being horrible and ruining her business. Was it true? Who cares? Getting on a show and shitting on a group of opinionated people with the ability to write all sorts of insanity was a line in the sand, and I jumped the fuck over that line as quickly and with as much gusto & vigor as a man my size can muster.
With that, I wrote my very first Yelp review:
That was taken down after a couple of days, and I understood why. Businesses like Yelp can’t function properly if you shit all over their business model. Plus, I’m a bit intrigued by an idea of art, including writing, being a more temporary thing. I like the idea that something could be and then disappear, and if you caught it, it was fun. If not…well, maybe you’ll catch the next thing that the next person does. Books are great, but so are chance encounters.
So upon discovering that the 1st “review” had been removed, I immediately set about the 2nd one. Like the 1st, it no longer exists. Unlike the first, no one thought to take a screenshot of it to put on Reddit (Turdicus, I don’t know you, but thank you so much for putting Review #1 up there. Class act!), so it’s gone and I can’t even remember it. And I kinda love that idea, too.
But not enough to have written Review #3 without saving a copy. I’ll italicize it, so you can scroll past it if you don’t care to read it, but yes: I did immediately write a 3rd review after hearing of #2’s untimely demise. Here it is:
I visited ABC a couple of years ago, dying for a real meal after being cooped up in the hotel I was staying at for 4 days during my company’s annual sales motivation retreat. The VP of Sales is a raw foods enthusiast, and as such he stipulated that we would be partaking in a full body detox. After 4 days of nothing but kale, Swiss chard and dandelion greens, I felt just about ready to climb right out of my skin and leave it at the hotel as a decoy, so that no one would notice as my skinless body went out and picked up a 20-piece Chicken McNugget value meal. These were desperate times!
Thinking better of that plan, I decided to give Amy’s Baking Company a shot, and I’m really glad I did. I was greeted at the door by an older gentleman who showed me to my seat. Within a minute of my arrival, my server arrived with a glass of ice water with lemon, a menu and a smile, and I opted for a 12″ BBQ pulled pork pizza and an order of their house Italian flatbread. I figured that the flatbread would come first as an appetizer of sorts, but the pizza actually came out 1st, after about 45 minutes. Typically, I’d probably review a meal less favorably if that occurred, but I was so hungry at the time that literally anything besides a bowl of greens was mana from Heaven for me.
Full disclosure here: I’m from the South originally, and I’d like to think that I know a thing or two about good ‘Q. So while I was truly famished, I still wouldn’t let a sub par rendition of pulled pork slip past my scrutiny. Thankfully, I didn’t have to scrutinize too much, because the pork was amazing! It reminded me of my childhood, when my father would lower me into a pit in the basement after having his way with my kid-body. He’d always send down a satchel of pulled pork in the meal bucket on Sundays, a fond memory that was stoked in the furnace of my soul when I took my first bite of the pizza.
I greedily wolfed down almost the entire pizza by the time the flatbread arrived, but I somehow found the room in my body for the whole thing, and as I sat there, stuffed beyond the point of being able to perform even the most basic of life functions, the older gentleman who seated me offered me a complimentary shot of Fernet Branca. Not only was it the perfect digestif to cap off an amazing meal, but it was a shining example of grace, kindness and generosity on behalf of the business. The passionate look in the owner’s eyes even reminded me of my now-deceased father, whose “don’t tell anyone” philosophy is one I have to break here, because I love this restaurant and I don’t care who knows.
I managed to roll my bloated body back to the hotel and sneak back into the seminar on BDSM Sales Techniques just in time to see a coworker of mine lose his job for sneaking off the compound premises and sneaking a meal, too, and breathed a garlicky sigh of relief. Unfortunately, after the Excellence in Sales Recognition Awards were presented the next day, my position was also terminated for my AWOL status. As such, I’ve been unemployed and battling depression since that time. The stress of joblessness has caused irreparable damage to my stomach lining, my children are no longer able to have any interaction with me, and I just let a swarthy Catalonian urinate on me for money and barbiturates. But if I had the chance to take it all back and live a different way, I wouldn’t change a thing. That pizza was amazing, and since no other meal would top the one I had at Amy’s Baking Company, I suppose it doesn’t matter if my next meal is served on fine china or from a garbage can. I’m ruined for all other food.
I miss you, Dad.
Not as good as the 1st one, right? Of course not. But it was right around this point that I realized that I was getting a lot more out of this than the simple thrill of “online bullying” someone who may or may not kinda deserve it. I’d never intended to be hurtful in the 1st place, and I never was. Basically, I was just treating this thing like one of ol’ Dr. Dayton’s creative writing exercises, which were some of the most fun I ever had in a college classroom. Loved that lady, loved that class, and definitely loved to write, more & more with each day.
I lose sight of that sometimes. Hell, I recently went more than a year without writing anything I enjoyed to write. I had some projects here & there, this or that job, but nothing fun. I felt like a lie, even though I was finally making some money at this stuff. And ol’ Amy & Samy gave me back my favorite thing.
I won’t make money goofing in Yelp reviews. I wrote 4 of them (#4 was short, pretty boring and more reactionary to this “person” at Yelp named “Clarence” who was deleting reviews by the boatload, authentic or not) with the full knowledge that they would be gone. Some people would catch them, maybe think they were fun or great or just worth their time, and then they’d be gone & that would be the end of Review #1 or #whatever. That helped me realize that writing isn’t my job, and I don’t think I necessarily ever want it to be my job again.
I apply for content writing positions, and the managers must know my whole story when I go in for their interviews. I don’t hide my disgust well, so when I’m in some place, talking about how I can use this or that to generate ad revenue or ensure customer satisfaction, it must read all over my face that I hate the idea of doing any of it. I want a paycheck; who doesn’t want a paycheck? But there are so many other ways to get one besides writing…I hear blowjobs are popular…
Nah, this is for fun. This is my real life. This is maybe my art, that stays or goes away. Amy’s Baking Company finally pushed me past that concept of having jobs that match my degree. Thanks.
And yeah, I definitely just wrote Review #5. In italics below: read or read not, there is no scan.
I managed to secure a table for ten the other night, something I gather has been no small feat since the grand re-opening. And to save people the suspense, I’ll just get this part over with: I had a great time, the rest of my party enjoyed themselves quite a bit, and I’m sure I’ll be doing some repeat business there the next time I’m in AZ.
We were hustled rather quickly into one of the dining rooms upon our arrival and seated family-style at a rustic, distressed oak bench at the end of a long, dimly lit hallway. Our server, a tall figure named Sandy, gave us our menus and nearly spilled out of the top of his corset as he bent down to take our drink orders.
Receiving our alcoholic concoctions in short order, we collectively decided to order each of the 13 pizzas listed on the menu. We were told that such an order might take well over an hour, but hey! Waiting for great rewards isn’t such a bad thing. I just told Sandy to keep the drinks flowing, and we’d be fine. However, sensing distress in Sandy’s sigh, I just told him we’d invoke the Lord’s true name back-to-front to fetch his attention. Matter: settled.
The next thing I remember, I was prone, bound to the table with chains. I tried to speak and ended up biting deeper into a Fuji apple. Finally, Elijah (my adopted son) took the apple out of my mouth and held a finger to his lips, maintaining a manic sort of eye contact with me as lights seemed to shine upon us from outside the darkened corridor. I would learn later that these were flames, blue and without a torch to hold them.
“Do you kneel before him?” chanted a number of disembodied voices, echoing in my ears from all directions. “Do you kneel before the mighty serpent?”
I’m a God-fearing Christian, so I politely informed the voices that I kneel before only one Lord, and he’s a white man with long hair and a gorgeous beard.
“Sandy, pull the chains and spread him. Gather the oblong gourds and the tubers, so that we might make this beast know The Path!”
I panicked, and I don’t mind telling the good people of this world that I soiled myself upon hearing this command. My faith, compromised by my fear, buckled as I screamed my allegiance and fidelity to the serpent of darkest creation. Not knowing what else to do, and in hopes that they might spare Elijah, I called upon the voices on high to bring me a blade and a chalice, so that I might fall upon it and offer my blood to He, The Darkest. I’ve never known anguish like I did at just that moment, knowing I’d have to offer my eternity to save my boy.
Suddenly, the lights came on, and my family and friends rush into what I can see now as one single, very large dining room.
“Surprise!,” they yelled with joy. “Congratulations on becoming a doctor!”
Somehow, Elijah must’ve found out about my reservation here, because I hadn’t told a soul where we might be going. He found out and told everyone, and they arranged a celebration just for me! So, obviously, the restaurant is very accommodating both to large parties and special requests.
We all had a good laugh (and maybe a tear or two) as Sandy quickly cleared the table for our dinner. My assistant told me that they’d spiked my Tom Collins with Rohypnol, and that it was actually the next day. Well, I guess I didn’t need to be a doctor on my first day of being a doctor…
Just before the pizza arrived, one of the disembodied voices suddenly screamed, “kneel in praise, dog!” and I instinctively curled into the fetal position. Turns out, it was the owner and the kitchen staff playing the “voices” all along! I kid you not, they went all out to make it a night I’d never forget!
The pizza finally arrived, and we grasped at slices like we’d never eaten before. Everything was fresh and delicious, and the pizzas were much larger and more generous with the toppings that I could have possibly expected. I didn’t even bother putting my clothes back on, it was so good!
As we were leaving, I asked Elijah to give Sandy his tip. I wanted to make sure that the shenanigans I’ve heard of previously were not still in practice. I’m happy to say they are not, but Sandy actually told my son that his tip was the pleasure he’d provided to us. Sandy’s a great guy, and once his insurance clears the expenses, he’s going to make an even better woman. Either way, the service was beyond impeccable.
I left the restaurant with a restored sense of being, a full heart, and a full belly. I’d say you can’t ask for much more than that from a dining experience…well, except for maybe a better to-go box. By the time I got home, the remaining slices looked the worse for wear. Oh well, no one can be perfect, I suppose…and really, the experience you truly want begins and ends in that lovely dining room. Anything taken from the grounds is simply akin to holding on to a memory that is best left to sweeten and fade.
Thank you so much for an amazing experience! We’ll be back!
Posted on 05/28/2013, in Fun Stuff! and tagged Amy, Amy's Baking Company, Arizona, AZ, Gordon Ramsay, Kitchen Nightmares, Reddit, Samy, Scottsdale, soggy pizza, Turdicus, Xtopher J., Yelp. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.