Amid the hustle and bustle of the kitchen at Marcel’s, a fine dining restaurant in Washington, D.C., one member of the staff is immune to the noise. It’s David Uzzell, the 28-year-old saucier responsible for such delicacies as pan-seared foie gras or mushroom mornay sauce.
Uzzell is a deaf chef — a rarity in the vast majority of restaurant kitchens. When chef and owner Robert Wiedmaier needs to get Uzzell’s attention while expediting during dinner service, he pokes him in the shoulder.
“David gets poked a lot,” says Wiedmaier. “There might be a dent in his shoulder from my finger by now.”
It’s not all poking, according to Uzzell. “We’ve come up with some workarounds,” he says — or writes, using one of the many notepads that are permanently kept at his station to help with more lengthy communications. Having completely lost his hearing by the time he was a year old, Uzzell is used to having to figure out how to communicate to a hearing audience.
“I’ve never seen somebody text so fast,” says Wiedmaier.
Photo: Kristen Hartke for NPR Caption: David Uzzell at work in the kitchen at Marcel’s. Uzzell has a written list of daily tasks from chef and owner Robert Wiedmaier at his station, and his ever-present notepad and pencil on the shelf above serves as communication tools for more specific instructions.
In 1980, soon after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, Zubair Popal fled the country with his wife, Shamim, two young sons and infant daughter.
“There was no hope for me to stay,” he recalls. “I thought about the future of my kids. And in those days when the Soviet Union went to a country and invaded that country, they never left.”
Eventually, the Popals landed in America and rebuilt their lives. Today, the family owns several successful restaurants in Washington, D.C., including the acclaimed Lapis, which serves Afghan cuisine. On a recent evening, they opened up the restaurant to host a free dinner welcoming refugees in their city.
“We came here exactly like these people – we had no place to stay,” Zubair Popal recalls. He chokes up and takes a long pause before adding, “It reminds me of the days we came … I know for these people it’s very hard, very hard.”
The dinner was part of Refugees Welcome, a campaign that encourages locals across the U.S. to host similar meals for refugees in their community — and to break barriers by breaking bread together.
“The intention is to really humanize the refugee issue and to say, let’s meet each other as neighbors. Let’s talk about ways that we’re similar rather than ways that we’re different,” says Amy Benziger, the U.S. lead for the campaign, which was launched in February and is sponsored by UNICEF, among other partners.
The restaurant could be called “The White House” or “The Revolutionaries” or something creative.
Washington is the owner.
Hamilton and Jefferson are the managers.
Burr is the head chef.
Madison is the chef’s “helper”.
Laurens, Mulligan and Lafayette are the waiters. Angelica, Eliza and Peggy are the waitresses.
King George III can be the rival restaurant across town.
When Washington decides “fuck it I’m done with these kids” he leaves the restaurant in the hands of John Adams and everyone fucking hates him. So they have this vote with the customers to see who should be the new owner.
Hamilton is at home because *insert something bad happening to Philip, who he has to babysit on weekends. Also because Maria was like “oh work here instead!” and shit happens*. He hears about Jefferson and Burr competing over who gets to own the place. Obviously, he votes for Jefferson because that’s how it went 200 years ago.
I dunno, I was watching Kitchen Nightmares and this happened.
Rick was elsewhere when she met with Sasha and her mother the following Tuesday. If he had been there, as unlikely as that scenario would be, the meeting would have offered some timely clarity on the Westbrook family dynamics. Unfortunately, in life, not everything occurs in a timely manner.
That Tuesday the Westbrook matriarch stepped into the upscale Washington DC restaurant, a frequent hub for the famous and those prominent figures in the political world, with a purpose. She approached the hostess, her eyes scanning the restaurant for her daughter and niece.