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« Drawing the harvest/growing season deliciously! | Main | Michael Batterberry - Mensch, Visionary Publisher & Chronicler of the Ever-Evolving American Table »

Thursday, July 29, 2010


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suvir saran

I was attempting to post a more detailed blog about dear Michael and Ariane, but tonight it seems emotions attached to all the wonderful times spent in the company of Ariane and Michael are robbing me of any sense of clarity in thought. I just want to allow my mind to wander wherever it wants to go, remembering the many kindnesses afforded me by Ariane and Michael.

Suffice it to say that I have never felt such loss before. I have lost all my grandparents now. Three of them after I came of age. But with the loss of Michael it seems I have lost one of the two people I looked up to as my angels in America.

Ariane and Michael have done more for me than any two people in the world of food. They believed in me before I knew what my calling was. They gave me opportunities before any had ever existed. They gave me friendship that money cannot buy. They gave me support that is remarkable to find even from family and very close friends. This within weeks of knowing me. And each time I met them in the years I have known them, brought to me a wealth of knowledge and experiences that inform how I life, what I do for a living and how I share my work and life with friends and people.

I mourn the loss of Michael, but I mourn equally for Ariane. How tough this time must be for this brilliant and charming woman. She was the woman behin the man (Michael). And what a woman she is. I mourn for her not because Michael has passed, but because I know how close they were to one another. I mourn that life has taken away Michael in this manner. I mourn that forever henceforth there will be a glaring absence that nothing will ever be able to replace or fill. I mourn that I have no way of giving Ariane the handsome, kind, forever youthful and always gracious Michael. And most of all I mourn my own mortality and my mortal words with no power to heal.

Ariane, forgive me please for my inabilities as a human to express better how I feel. Words do not come easily to me. I am no Ariane or Michael. If I were I would make sense at this hour. I hope that you can adjust to this very challenging time in ways someone as strong as you alone can do so with greater ease. And I hope I get to see you sometime soon, and express my deep respect for Michael and you in person.

Words cannot describe the gratitude I have for all you have done for me. My life in the US, would be very different today if I had not had the good fortune to have met Michael and you in 1996. I cannot speak for what my life means to others, but when I thank my stars for the life I am leading today, I also always thank you both. My life changed the day I met you both and it has never been the same.

What is most amazing about you both is not that you changed my life in this very poignant fashion. I know I am one of hundreds of others that have found through you their calling or even a new metier. It is this that has me in awe of you both. Individually and as a couple.

I shall close this computer, and allow my mind to drift to dinners, lunches, meetings at the Food Arts Office with Michael and you and in the company of Beverly, Jim and Gary. Each of whom only further cemented in my mind the ideals that I learned from you both.

Lucky are those that get to enjoy what they do and respect their vocation. You gave me that joyous gift. The ability to enjoy my work and do do it tirelessly. Every day that I live - will be a day I will try and do a small percentage of what Michael and Ariane did for me. In hopes that I can affect another even in a fraction of the manner in which you both influenced my life. Since that alone will be a good way for me to thank you. It is my hope that I can share Michael and your legacy with those I meet, and each day strive to do more for our community.

Michael is not ours to embrace in the human form we knew and celebrated and held close. That Michael has gone and is lost to our world as we knew it until today. But starting today, I will dwell in a world that enjoys Michael as a shining star. A star that will live and last longer than any mortal being. A star that I will talk to daily and in great clarity when dealing with moments of doubt. It is this knowledge that gives me some comfort in knowing that Michael shall always surround me, even if only through the actions of others whom he inspired and touched in his life shared with you.

suvir saran

This is in from the NY Times.
Maybe they will do a more detailed piece next Wednesday? I hope so.

Mai Pham

I will always remember Michael with the greatest affection and respect. At a conference in Seattle 15 years ago, Michael came up to me after my presentation. "Mai, I was so touched by your presentation," Michael said. "You have a very very special voice." I was so impressed that some of his stature to come up to me and say that. He probably never realized it but he and his comments that day lit a fire in me, and had a lot to do with my culinary career today. What am incredibly lovely and big-hearted person he was...his spirit and soul will forever be with us. --Mai Pham


Your tributes are incredibly touching Suvir. Thank you for sharing them with us.

How thrilling to read a post by Mai Pham. My roommate and I easily drive 1.5 hours to have dinner in our very favorite restaurant - Lemongrass in Sacramento.


suvir saran

Mai - I have added your post to another blog post. Link to that is below.

Thanks for sharing your Michael story.

David - Charlie and I have traveled cross-country (NYC to Sacramento) to enjoy the food at Lemongrass. How we wish Sacramento was closer to the farm. Mai cooked us a wondrous meal at the farm. We were in heaven.

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