Apr 15, 2010|
Though a private magic show at the end of brunch is utterly unnecessary—in the same way that champagne is not technically a necessity either—one day at Sevva, I had the pleasure of both.
As my husband and I were eating our meal, Sean MacFarlane, who’s more correctly defined as a “sleight of hand artist” than a stage magician, began his act. “Think of a card as fast as you can—right now!” he said, deck of cards in hand. (Play along here—think of a card.)
The first card that came to my mind was the ace of spades. My husband thought of the king of hearts. Sean explained that during these “instant reflex” moments, men usually go for the ace of spades; women, the queen of hearts. His thesis sorta came close, but in all fairness, he was just warming up.
Sean is the type of magician that I like. He’s the type that will discuss where he learned his magic (reading magic books out of boredom in the Canadian wasteland), while freely giving away token trade secrets (like the fact that there’s an alpha dog in every audience you must win over in order for the rest of the crowd to be impressed). He’s the type that dresses in suits and slacks and looks every bit the everyman. He’s the antithesis of the David Blaine brand of illusionist who sports quasi-goth fashion and gives off an air of true wizardry.
Simply put, Sean was endearing in a number of ways. First, his admission that sometimes people call him out on his tricks disarmed us. Then, he made clear his passion for magic, telling us stories of his idols who can move nails from one corner of a wooden box to another.
And lastly, his ability to take the three of clubs bearing my husband’s signature scribbled over the face, make it disappear, and then reappear again and again in the most unlikely of places won us over completely.
Sean circled the rest of the room after his stint of card tricks at our table. Laughter and gasps of disbelief followed him from one end of the restaurant to the other. This was the first time I had seen an in-house magician while eating coddled eggs with linseed toast, but curiously, the entire experience seemed familiar.
Like the quick flash of a card that changes in front of your eyes, food inspires all sorts of “oohs” and “aahs.” And there is an uncanny parallel between the instant when the magician pulls a rabbit out of his hat and when the lid of a silver platter is lifted to unveil what’s inside. The closed doors of the kitchen, like a magician’s cape, prevent us from seeing the hours of preparation that go into a dish. It appears to us as effortless as a vanishing coin trick, and allows us to be dazzled in the final reveal without being burdened by the work that went into it.
“Five thousand hours is the average amount of practice it takes for a magician to truly master some of the more complicated tricks,” said Sean. “But it can be done. Nothing is impossible.”
So too with chefs and their cuisine. When it comes to food, we’ve never asked for a miracle, just some magic.