THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Remembering Hal

The restaurant business is a very unique industry, packed with colorful characters, miscreants, thieves, liars, unique talents, wonderful personalities, horrible personalities, and truly dedicated people. Hal Goldman, a Long Island NY chef of extraordinary dedication, was a rare human being. Hal was my friend. He was not the friend who I hung out with watching ballgames, or socializing. There was little of that time in either of our worlds. Hal was too busy, and so was I.

I knew him first, as this wiry framed, completely determined, chef in Tom Schaudel's Coolfish restaurant kitchen. Tom, an accomplished and renown Long Island chef, is also quick-witted and glib. He used to ride and needle Hal in the kitchen. Hal would give it back too. This wasn't a mean spirited banter, but rather two teammates, elbows deep in dinner service, finding ways to push each other, and enjoy the experience. For Hal, that cooking experience was his life's work.

Hal took the classic route to being a chef. He worked hard. There were no Cheftestant illusions, or short cuts to fame. He wanted his own restaurant, and was willing to pay his dues to get there.

Tom used to tease Hal about his frugality, or downright cheapness. Hal was saving all of his money to follow his dream of opening his restaurant. There was no time for vacations. Hal lived a Spartan life, with no frills. He had the right make up to succeed. He had incredible determination, was thoroughly devoted to his craft, and would simply outwork everyone around him.

After a brief stint as Executive Chef at another Long Island restaurant, Hal put his savings into the opening of his restaurant, Jackson Landing, in Bellmore, a town on Long Island's south shore. His cooking was vibrant, creative, and bold. I will never forget the sense of pride on his face during the opening days. That was the time I will remember him for most.

Hal passed away this past Wednesday at the age of forty-four. He fought bravely, as he always did, against pancreatic cancer. The restaurants of Long Island lost a terrific talent, and an even finer human being. I lost a friend far too soon.