For Jobless Chefs, a Helping Hand



On a recent Thursday night, after most of the dinner crowd had left, Bernard Ros, the owner and chef of Meli Melo, a French bistro in Manhattan, grilled three steaks, threw together a few pasta dishes and salads and pulled out two bottles of Côtes du Rhône red. By 10 p.m., he and a half-dozen friends in the restaurant business who were done working for the night — a couple of owners, a headwaiter, a wine salesman, a chef — were seated around a table in the back, talking jobs.

“This guy, he’s called me twice already, looking for a chef,” Mr. Ros said. “He’s opening some big brasserie in Maryland — Ocean City.”

What’s his name, someone asked.

“Cakaria,” Mr. Ros said.

That his first or last name? asked another.

“Don’t know,” said Mr. Ros, who also didn’t know how the man knew him, which was not surprising. “Everyone knows Bernard,” said Jean Pierre Boissiere, who 10 years ago got his job as a wine salesman for the House of Burgundy through Mr. Ros.

“Anybody have a chef for this guy?” Mr. Ros asked the men and women around the table. “He needs someone big. It’s a big place.”

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