This column is a continuing series by Chef Peter X. Kelly of Xaviars Restaurant Group which runs every Thursday.
Over the years, I've been been lucky enough to make the acquaintance of many extremely interesting people.
The restaurant industry has allowed me to meet movie stars and presidents, recording artists and ballet stars, titans of industry and poets, bestselling authors and professional athletes. Of course, my profession has also allowed me to meet an array of just plain nice people, and this is why I love my business.
This past week, the Yonkers Riverfront Library launched its “Tech Central” wing and hosted an opening reception. I was fortunate enough to be on hand, working, but able to be a part of the celebration. The guest of honor was Yonkers' own Ron Garan.
Ron recently retired as an NASA Astronaut with more than 178 days in space and many exciting stories. For me, meeting an astronaut was more monumental than meeting Julia Child. Not to say I wasn’t thrilled to meet Julia some years ago, but to meet a real life astronaut -- that was pretty amazing.
What was so special for me was knowing that, Colonel Garan, born in Yonkers, a graduate of Roosevelt High School and a member of Discovery space shuttle flight to the International Space Station, took the time to be at this very special event in Yonkers. He flew in from Texas, where he lives, to speak with students at Roosevelt High School and to be at the opening of the Tech Center at the Yonkers Public Library's Riverfront branch.
Speaking with him after the event, I was struck at how genuine he was and how happy he was to give back to and support the community that gave him his start.