My name is Arthur Mullen III, born in Manchester, Connecticut, in 1983. Twelve years in South Windsor public schools that included training in peer mediation and Future Problem Solving, was followed by a single semester, majoring in Fiction Writing, in Chicago, after which I dropped out of college, and got a job washing dishes at the Union League Club of Chicago. The large team of stewards at the Union League were then all immigrants themselves, coming from Mexico and other Latin American countries, hoping to make money and a better life for their families. The Union League had laid bare the fact, before they hired me, that I would be the first white guy in the position. My coworkers were welcoming and curious, and they soon learned about how I had finished high school, while at the same time, my mom had finished an over-abundance of alcohol. Although the dishwashers could only dream of my privileged Connecticut upbringing, they fully accepted me onto the team, and offered full support, like a second family.
After my mother had passed away, from the alcoholism, I moved East, to be back closer to my aunt, grandma and sister. In the aftermath, I believe that being together helped to heal our small family. For most of my twenties, I worked at chef Chris Schlesinger’s East Coast Grill and Raw Bar, in Inman Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was hired as an oyster shucker, but I was not an oyster shucker for very long, because I shucked too slow. My home there was a powerfully well-heated (right next to the furnace room of the whole building) basement studio apartment, in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was the first place where I lived completely alone, and it was the incubator for my Ivy League education, by way of osmosis.
Before I turned thirty, I returned to Chicago, and I earned a spot on the management team of chef Rick and Deann Bayless’ restaurants, where I stayed for 7 years. 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 my awareness that for coworkers who may well be having a challenging time at home, as I had had, the restaurant becomes like a second family.
Most recently, my Chicago gal, Raven Beauty, and I have relocated to the Connecticut shoreline, offering assistance to my aunt Judy, who has cared for me like a parent my entire life. In December 2018, I started working at the front desk of the Union League Café, in New Haven, Connecticut, and it’s still early days — I am finding out about French cuisine from chefs Jean-Pierre Vuillermet and Guillaume Traversaz, and absorbing the art / business of hospitality from Jean-Michel Gammariello, Romain Turpault, Christina Fitzgerald, Cheri McKenzie, and Robin Vuillermet-McKenzie. Here, thanks to Yale University, across from the Old Campus, at the old home site of Roger Sherman, higher learning osmosis begins anew.
(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