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Mini Maws Enters the Craigie Kitchen

If you follow my Instagram feed you will have noticed a long-haired masked young man working the fry station with me once a week.  That’s Charlie Maws, my son, and the dude turns 12 years old next week.  Do you remember being twelve?  Riding bikes wherever and whenever you pleased.  Little League games with ice cream cones afterwards, win or lose.  Hanging out with your buddies talking about… whatever.  Twelve is the crossroads between innocence and awareness, between frivolity and responsibility.  Like many parents, Karolyn and I have been working fulltime and also trying to provide some level of entertainment and activity for him. Choices are few , especially since we’re not too fond of extensive screen time.  Without our dog Mac I’m sure the situation would be even worse.

Charlie is very much his own little-man.  People ask me if he’ll cook some day.  I honestly doubt it and with the state of restaurants pre-Covid I could not even wish this life on anyone close to me in good faith.  He is a good eater, though.  And he still keeps his foods separate from each other on his plate. Karolyn calls him a “no touch-etarian”.  

For years he’s come by the restaurant to “help out”.  As parents Karolyn and I want him to understand what working and having a job is all about.  While I’ve always loved having him around the kitchen, I can’t say that he was ever really productive, unless picking a half pint of cilantro leaves in one hour should be viewed as a success.  That changed this past month.

He was a reluctant recruit when I approached him initially about helping us out.  Our tiny crew needed help in any shape or size when the pandemic forced us to change, pivot or whatever you want to call it.  “C’mon buddy, spend some time with Dad. Give mom a break.  We might even have some fun.  We usually do!”.  That was my big pitch.  And, full disclosure, he didn’t have a choice but we let him take ownership of the “decision”.

After just a few weeks I can legitimately and objectively say the kid actually WORKS the fry station.  He’s figured out his system, which is key to being a successful line cook.  He meticulously lines up his clamshell to-go containers, marks each of them with “FF”, measures out the precise amount of fries for each order, communicates with the chef about when they should be dropped (“Dad, drop ‘em?”) and artfully tosses the piping hot, crispy wedge-cut potatoes with our mix of butter, garlic chives, togarashi and salt.  He’s got the pro-level cook toss and flip move down.  He has a bit of a swagger to him now too, and even a bit of that veteran trash talk (the sarcastic version of “Ouiiiii, Chef!!!”).  

As you well know, it’s not about the fries. Being a Dad is the best job I’ve ever had. I’m sure I’ll have something more to say about that in a few weeks (hint hint).  I’m proud of him.  He moved himself from the “do I have to?” kid-level whiner to the consistent, take it seriously, mature (I’ll give this to him) about to be twelve year old.  He might not see it with my mask on right now, but I’m smiling the entire way through service as I watch him go through his routine.

If you happen to come by tonight and peek through the window you’ll catch a glimpse of Charlie Maws, budding Craigie line cook, soon to be twelve year old. Mini-Maws, here’s to the many more rides (bikes, boats, road trips… and just life) we will take together.
I love you. And don’t be late tonight!

 “It all starts with ingredients. We’ve been working closely with farmers and fishermen since 2002, They are the first people I talk to each morning!

 Many of my culinary values are the same ones you’ll find in 90% of the world’s grandmothers.

That said, you’ll find me on the leading edge of most culinary techniques and ingredients.

I work to match just the right food and wine combinations (sometimes they are unexpected) 

I serve nothing that is not in season.

I look forward to hosting you soon."

Tony Maws

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