THE BLOG

Love Letters: Boston

03/04/2015 08:54 am ET | Updated May 04, 2015

Chris Himmel has trained in some of the country's most celebrated kitchens including Thomas Keller's The French Laundry and some in Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group. Today, Himmel serves as the Executive Vice President for Himmel Hospitality Group where he is responsible for strategic management, design, development, marketing and public relations duties for the three restaurants under Himmel Hospitality Group. The restaurants include Grill 23 & Bar, an award-winning classic steakhouse and seafood grill; Post 390, an urban tavern offering seasonally-inspired menus in a refined setting; and Harvest, a Cambridge favorite that celebrates contemporary New England cuisine. In 2014, Himmel was included in the Boston Business Journal's "40 under 40" list.

Dear Boston,

These days, my job often takes me away from time spent with you, and quality time seems more and more difficult to come by. But no matter where life takes me, you'll always be my home. We've grown together, made lasting relationships together, and been through life's ups and downs together. You've taught me to appreciate the people, places, and character of what makes you up, and what makes you one of the world's truly great cities.

I was introduced to you at a young age through the restaurant business, working at my family's restaurant, Grill 23 & Bar, in Back Bay. I rose through the ranks, paying my dues through jobs like picking spinach, scrubbing broiler ovens, butchering beef, making "cape codders" and serving our loyal guests. And through it all, I got to know the amazing personalities that make up the fabric of your community, and learned to value what makes you so great: your people, along with their loyalty and outstanding work ethic.

I was fortunate to be raised during a renaissance in the restaurant business. Diners throughout the city were increasingly more appreciative of where their food came from, and realized how lucky we were to live in a region with such a bounty of ingredients - from Ipswich Clams, Scituate Lobsters and Nantucket Bay Scallops, to sweet native corn, heirloom tomatoes and beyond. Through the years, you've provided me with great inspirations to look to as I found my own voice. Whether it be through the many chefs I've had the pleasure of working with, or by making a difference in your community with great people and organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of Boston, I've come to see that it's the people and the pride that they have for their hometown that makes you such a unique and special place to live.

Of course, like any true Bostonian, sports are the backbone of my relationship with you. Many of my most cherished memories revolve around celebrating the championships we've enjoyed together. From the original "Big Three" of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish, to the most recent "Big Three" of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, we've enjoyed four NBA World Championships in our time, and I've been lucky enough to have had a seat at the Garden, both old and new, for each and every one of them.

Growing up, nothing was more important to me than our Boston Red Sox. One of my fondest memories is heading to Fenway Park with my dad for a ball game. We could've done without that 86-year-long "Curse of the Bambino," but it sure made it that much sweeter savoring the 2004 World Series championships, thanks to hometown heroes like Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, and my all-time favorite, "Big Papi" David Ortiz. Hard to believe that we've enjoyed two more World Series since then, but I think we can both attest that those duck boat parades never get old!

While we may share our Patriots with the rest of New England, I think it's safe to say that we share a special bond with my all-time favorite team. Like the individuals that make up Boston, the Patriots are built upon principles like hard work, discipline, and one's ability to "do their job." Our Patriots certainly have come a long way since the days of Sullivan Stadium. Back then, my father and I would make it to each game on Sunday, often times enduring the rain or snow, all the while knowing that we'd most likely be watching another gut-wrenching loss along with the 500 other diehard fans in attendance. Much like you, I'm still on cloud nine from our latest Super Bowl victory. Being in Arizona for the big game and celebrating with the many other Patriots fans who made the trip, I was reminded yet again how truly lucky I am to be a Bostonian.

Indeed, it's your residents that make you a world-class city -- always has and always will be. Bostonians are tough in so many ways (often a point of pride, and, yes, occasionally a point of frustration!) but we are who we are and we wear our hearts on our sleeves. If we don't care for someone, we're not going to pretend we do and we certainly won't hesitate to let them know how we feel when confronted. Respect is earned as a Bostonian through honesty, hard work, and commitment to making your entire community a better place to live. Those who pay their dues, and show that they're in it with the rest of us for the long haul, find that the same individuals they thought were indifferent to them are the first ones to be there in a time of need. I'm lucky enough to experience this firsthand each and every day at my restaurants Grill 23 & Bar, Harvest and Post 390, and it never ceases to amaze me. In the end, community is what it's all about, and Boston, I can honestly say there's no one prouder than myself to call you my home!

Chris Himmel