Good Bye to a favorite Chef

Today we pause to thank Alex Valuiskyi who came to work at Quicks Hole Tavern all the way from Cherkasy, Ukraine in 2015.  If you have read anything about the political situation the last few years in the Ukraine, you can perhaps understand why many of it’s fine citizens are fleeing to other parts of the world.  We consider ourselves quite fortunate that Alex found Cape Cod, working his way up the kitchen ladder at our year-round restaurant in Falmouth, MA.

Alex started as a dishwasher and his English was, umm, “emerging” would be a polite way to describe it.  He impressed us with his work ethic and steadily improving language skills while he split his time between our kitchen and pouring coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  His smile was perpetual and could light up a dark room with youthful joy.  He asked me if I had books he could borrow, or what he might read to understand America better.  I found him, on slow days, studying the pages of an encyclopedia of American culinary tradition.  He told me he read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People five times and recommended it to all his friends but none of them enjoyed it as much as he did.  To describe Alex as a sponge soaking information like dishwater is to undersell his attitude.

Soon enough, Alex was prepping soups, making delicate sauces, cutting fresh vegetables.  Shortly thereafter, he started on the pantry station which he mastered in a few months, then trained for the fry and saute stations.  He dropped his second job at Dunkin and was promoted to kitchen manager which comes with additional responsibility.  We came to count on him in the rushes for his concentration and mastery, and in slower times for commitment and organization.  He asked if he could attend managers meetings on his own time, just to see what happens there.  He started creating unique weekend specials — an important step for which every young chef eagerly waits.

For his annual vacations, Alex chose to travel to Hawaii more than once.  He came back each time tan and relaxed, said he loved the warm surf but wanted to stay on Cape Cod.  Last spring, he began talking about how he might move to a city, maybe Boston or New York.  We said we would miss him terribly, but it’s a big world out there and he should see it. He is only 23 years old after all.

Yesterday was Alex’s last day working at Quicks Hole Tavern.   He has chosen to move over to Buffalo Jump, where he can continue to learn with inspired chef Brandon Baltzley.  Alex is hellbent on growth; there really is no stopping him.  We wish him the very best, and will watch with excitement to see what this talented, hard-working young man will do next.

I will echo Lin Manuel Miranda who sang of the founding father’s origin stories in his hit musical Hamilton – “Immigrants, we get the job done.”  While much ink has been spilled in the last few years on the dangers of modern immigration, I would posit that the arrival of a young man like Alex is exactly what America needs to remain great.  Or at the very least, it is indeed what a small year-round restaurant on Cape Cod needs to remain inspired.

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