My name is Arthur Mullen III, born in Manchester, Connecticut, in 1983. After twelve years in South Windsor public schools and one semester of college in Chicago, I dropped out and got a job washing dishes at the Union League Club of Chicago. I was a lost young man, having run from problems at home to the Midwest, where I knew no one. The large team of stewards at the Union League, mostly immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries, learned that I had been living with my mom while she struggled with alcohol addiction, accepted me on the team, and offered me support like a second family.
After my mother passed away, I moved back East to be closer to my aunt, grandma and sister. For most of my twenties, I worked at Chef Chris Schlesinger’s East Coast Grill and Raw Bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts. To get the job, I fibbed about prior experience and was hired as an oyster shucker, but I was not an oyster shucker for very long because I shucked too slow. Many of those years, I lived alone in a basement apartment basically on the campus of Harvard University, thus beginning my Ivy League education by way of osmosis.
Before turning thirty, I returned to Chicago and accepted a job on the management team of Chef Rick Bayless’ restaurants. On culinary journeys to Mexico, we studied the anthropological roots of our offerings. In Chicago, we represented the ancient cuisine and generous hospitality central to Mexican culture with pride, knowledge and enthusiasm. As a manager, I learned how to balance the business necessity of operations with the understanding that for my coworkers who may well be having a challenging time at home like I had, the restaurant becomes a second family.
Most recently, my Chicago gal and I have relocated to the Connecticut shoreline, offering assistance to my aunt, who has loved me like a parent my entire life. Working at the front desk of the Union League Cafe in New Haven, I am still in the early days of learning about French cuisine from Chef Jean-Pierre Vuillermet and service from Maître d’ Jean-Michel Gammariello. At the home site of Roger Sherman across from the Old Campus, my osmosis-fueled Ivy League education continues, thanks to Yale University.
(top of website) “The Roger Sherman House, New Haven. This was built by Roger Sherman, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. It remains still in possession of his descendants, and has not been materially changed from its original condition. It stands on Chapel street, nearly opposite Yale College.” Image courtesy of Archive.org, The Library of Congress, “The homes of our forefathers. Being a selection of the oldest and most interesting buildings, historical houses, and noted places in Rhode Island and Connecticut,” by Edwin Whitefield, 1882