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For most, the question is where you'll dance once the wounds have scarred over; for English, there's no question.Sure, he'll be a little more cautious, a little more alert, but he can't quit the fire's edge.Today, Sandy Springs has been swallowed by Atlanta's suburban sprawl, but in the '60s, it was a quiet, pastoral hamlet, where brick houses dotted the gently rolling pine-treed hills.English's parents divorced when he was eight, and his mother, Patty, who came from a large Italian family with roots in the Bronx, raised Todd and younger sister Wendy on her own.
The first colony of the English empire, if you will. But English has just passed through the most difficult year of his life, which included lawsuits, reports of shrinking earnings, a soured partnership, a rocky marriage, health-code violations at the flagship Olives, an intervention by friends alarmed at the effects of all this stress, and enough bad press to bring Rome to its knees.
Because unlike celluloid heroes and rock stars, chefs merely provide a dressed-up version of a basic human need. I have a fine time getting on the subway.” English agrees Â— with some caveats.
“I hate the term 'celebrity chef,'” says English's friend Bobby Flay, himself the owner of two acclaimed New York restaurants and host of a Food Network show. “Sometimes I think, Did you like the lamb shank or not? But you have to use what you've got.” Since the late '90s, English has parlayed what he's got into 13 restaurants.
And even he can't be sure he won't get burned again.
“I'm an adrenaline junkie,” he says, swigging from his cappuccino, “and I love the sex appeal of this business.
When he finally blows in, he spots me and without pausing his conversation or breaking his pace, he waves for me to catch up.