After seven and half years, Hector Lopez, one of the original team members of Osteria Mozza, will suit up for the last time tonight as he retires after a mysterious career that had most fellow workers wondering the same thing: "Just what did Hector actually do here, other than be happy?"
"Hector is a joy to be around, and I love his saying, that Shaoouuu! thing," said Mozza chef and owner Nancy Silverton. "i'm kinda busy, but, just remind me. What did he do here?"
A Mozza chef, Derek McCabe, was stunned to hear that today (Tuesday 5/27) would be Hector's last day.
"I thought he left a month ago," McCabe said in a text message to Krikorian Writes.
Lopez. from the city of Orizaha in the Mexican state of Vera Cruz. is perhaps best known for his jubilant proclamation of "SHAOOUUU!" ( CHAOOUUUUUUA! in Spanish, XIAOOOONNNGGG! in Mandarin) the meaning of which Lopez explained Monday night: "It's when something really wonderful happens or you see something really beautiful."
Lopez eagerly posed with fellow Mozza employees Monday night including Julianne Moore and Matt Michaelson, another original Mozza employee, who was also perplexed when asked what Hector did.
"I know he stood next to Tono and Adriel quite a lot," said Michaelson, clearly uncomfortable with the question "Look, I need to go carve a giant bookcase."
Michaelson's girlfriend, Alisa Burket, aka here as "Helen", who was often the inspiration for Lopez's Shaooouus!"s, said there is evidence Lopez did NOT do actual work at Mozza.
"Look at his hands," she said. "His hands are so soft and smooth. What work could he possibly do and still keep so soft?"
Whatever he did at Mozza, Hector did so with a lot of enthusiasm and happiness. And when sadness came his way - and it did - the staff knew because there were no "Shaooouus' to be heard.
So Lopez is moving on, on to work as a bartender at Los Balcones Del Peru, the Peruvian restaurant on Vine Street near Sunset Boulevard. He is also taking English as a second language at Evans Community Adult School, an enrollment applauded by former Mozza General Manager David Rosoff.
"Seven years I knew Hector and his English never improved," said Rosoff, who added he kind of admired - or at least was baffled by - Hector's state of being. "He only had two states; "super hyper" and "downright dangerously hyper."
So Hector Lopez will be missed at Mozza . For different reasons.
"Who is going to walk me to my car?' wondered pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez.
"Who is gong to have the best manicured eyebrows at Mozza now?" asked former Mozza chef de Cuisine Chris Feldmeier.
"Who is gong to hit on me at work if Hector's not there," pondered Osteria cook Rebecca Pizzala.
Michael Krikorian (relation), said he took a liking to Hector many years ago in the parking lot when he asked Hector "Do you know why I call you the 'Prince of Troy'?".
"Of course, Papa," Hector said with that sincere trademark smile of his. "Because Hector was the PrInce of Troy, I read. I know history, Papa."