Welcome to Eater Dream Journal, where we ask chefs and restaurateurs to write down their dreams for a week and share them with us. Today, Allison and Matt Robicelli, the husband and wife team behind the wildly popular Robicelli's Cupcakes.
[Original artwork by Eric Lebofsky]
DREAM JOURNAL: ALLISON
Wednesday: Night One
I’m in a tunnel driving a Ford Thunderbird convertible. The tunnel isn’t a road — it’s a hallway with wallpaper, chandeliers, Roma furniture and knock-off marble statues. Matt and the kids are in the car with me, and we’re all really excited about getting to the end of the tunnel. We keep running over all the furniture, and every time we do we all get seriously tossed around and bruised, but amazingly the car keeps going and there’s no damage. We get all the way to the end where I see a velvet curtain, and about five feet before we go through it the dream ends.
Real life: This can be one of three things. First it’s an obvious metaphor for the business — hitting obstacle after obstacle, getting beat up, yet still charging ahead. Second, it could be a Saturday Night Fever—esque story about getting the fuck out of Bay Ridge.
I think there’s a little bit of both of those reasons in it, but mostly I believe it’s about our inevitable move to Staten Island, which makes the most sense when I think about the Thunderbird and those God-awful couches and statues. Everyone who grew up in Brooklyn and has now been priced out (like us) crossed the bridge and set up shop over in the borough we’ve been making fun of our entire lives. But when we go over there now, we feel more at home — the bakers from Alba’s are there, Lento’s, Rispoli’s creamolata, and the God’s honest truth is that I can’t sleep without people named “Joey” and “Theresa Marie” screaming at each other in the street at 3AM. Deep down inside, they’re my people. Staten Island today is like 1986 Brooklyn, except there’s a moat around it, and a $13 toll in lieu of a seamonster.
Thursday: Night Two
I’m sitting in the middle of the floor of my middle school gym, and the whole floor around me is covered with unfrosted cupcakes. Matt’s over by the door and yells out to me “These all need to be frosted in four hours by the time I wake up for deliveries”. So I get to work.
Real life: I don’t know where David Chang gets off saying he hates cupcakes. If ANYONE gets to say they hate cupcakes, it’s fucking ME. Thursday night I baked — and I say this without an iota of hyperbole — ONE BILLION MILLION CUPCAKES. I spend every single day writing about cupcakes, billing about cupcakes, e-mailing about cupcakes, buying shit for cupcakes, baking the cupcakes, etc. I mean, they’re great and all, but I get six hours of the day where I don’t need to be dealing with them and should be dreaming that I’m making out with John Cusack while we’re riding my unicorn to Cracker Barrel. But NOOOOOOO, cupcakes need to show up there too and put my ass to work. Then I wake up and my kids are all like “Mommy, can we go to Starbucks for your coffee so we can get cupcakes?” Haven’t these kids heard about artisan toast yet?!?!?!?
Friday: Night Three
Something happened, and then I said to myself “Wow, you need to get up and write this in your dream journal for Eater! People are going to LOVE this one — it’s so profound!" So I got up and wrote the whole thing down.
Real life: Problem is, I dreamed I got up and wrote it down — it didn’t actually happen in real life. Then I totally forgot the interesting part. Sort of bitched out on you guys there. My bad.
Saturday: Night Four
I get out of bed and at the foot of my bed I see my three cats: Sammy, Charlie and Robbie. Robbie gives me this look he always gives me — his “I love you” look — and I put my head on his belly and listen to him purr. I am totally, unbelievably over-the-moon happy.
Real life: I got Robbie 3 weeks after I was diagnosed with stage IV lymphoma. My childhood dog had just died and I knew I’d get lonely since my chemotherapy-compromised immune system was going to keep me in near quarantine for a good long while, so a friend talked me into adopting one of her cat’s kittens. Robbie was one of the only things that made me smile that year. Last October he died of cancer at the age of nine. When a person dies you’re usually surrounded by people who are also mourning that person, but when it’s a pet it’s something so profoundly personal that no one will ever understand how much it hurts, even if they’ve gone through it themselves. And the fact that it was fucking CANCER that took my first love away from me is just the most evil, evil plot twist ever. Since I lost him, my nightmares about cancer finally catching up with me have gone from once in a blue moon to just about every night (I won’t print any of them in this journal because nobody wants to read them, and I don’t want to relive them). THIS dream, however, was the first time he came back to me just to hang out. And it was the best dream I’ve had in a long long time.
Sunday: Night Five
I’m in Coney Island when I notice one of my teeth is a little loose when I push at it with my tongue. Soon enough I realize that ALL my teeth are loose, so I start clamping my jaw as tight as I can and holding it with my hands in an attempt to force them back into the gums. I start flipping out because I know I have recurring dreams about this happening, and now I realize those dreams were an omen and now it’s finally happening to me. First thing I think to do is call my mom. She’s worked at the same dentist’s office since she was 16 (that makes 40 years in the business this year), and plus, she’s mommy! Mommies can fix everything! (Note: that statement does not apply to me).
My mom lands in a red, white and blue rocket ship dressed like Evil Kenivel and looks at my mouth, then says “I don’t know what to tell you — you’re fucked." And I’m like “WHAT DO YOU MEAN I’M FUCKED?!?!?! CALL DR. BOB!!!” So Doctor Bob comes out of the rocket ship and says “What do you want me to do?" So I go “Um, you’re a fucking DENTIST!!! HELP ME!!!" He says “I’ve got nothing," and him and my mom go to Nathan's while I just stand there.
Real life: Can someone please tell me what this means? I’ve been having this dream at least once a week for close to 15 years.
DREAM JOURNAL: MATT
Day One: Sex dream about my wife.
Day Two: Sex dream about my wife where I was eating a sandwich. Then I did some invoices. Then sex again.
Day Three: Sex dream about Sandra Bullock.
Day Four: Sex dream about my wife AND Sandra Bullock. More invoices.
Day Five: Dream about sleeping on a beach in Hawaii, then doing invoices on the beach.
Real life: No sex. Lots of invoices. Stupid cupcake business.
— Allison & Matt Robicelli