Ok, my first blog entry was 1,082 days ago. This is the second entry. I've been busy. Procrastination has always been on of my many flaws. We opened Spoon and Seed in June of 2015. We are still open almost 3 years later! Yay!
Consistently striving for excellence is one of the reasons why we are still here and why we have customers that keep coming back (and we appreciate the heck out of you).
The word consistent is important. It means you wake up everyday, open up shop, no matter if it's snowing, stormy, or just a quiet Tuesday morning. You put yourself out there. So what if breakfast was slow! Lunch will be slammed. Getting up and doing it. That's a good percentage of the whole deal right there. You got a good product? You believe in it? Make it. Make it everyday. It will catch on. You got to keep doing it. You can be like me and play Journey's Don't Stop Believin' while your getting your thing going.
A few months after we opened I was going through my old recipe notes and dug out an ancient German recipe for old fashioned potato donuts called, Spudnuts. I started making them. We only sold a few a day. There were days where I said maybe it's not worth it for me to make these donuts if we are only selling 4 or 5 or so a day. Luckily my wife and partner told me "Don't stop Believin'.Two years later, we sell hundreds of spudnuts a week. When we do off premise events people come up to us and say, "oh you guys are the spudnut guys"! Yup, we're kind of known for them now.
I'm a chef, so naturally the kitchen comes to mind first. I'm not the easiest to work for. I have high expectations and even higher standards. If you come to work for me I'm going to need your full attention and focus. Everything that goes on in my kitchen is done with attention to detail and with a purpose. All the ingredients are treated with respect because we spend a hell of a lot of time producing, growing and getting them from local farmers and purveyors.
We make bread everyday. And the day old bread gets made into breadcrumbs. Which then gets used in the hand breaded chicken parm or goes into the meatballs or is used for a nice crunchy textured topping for a mac n' cheese special. It's an old way of cooking that few commercial kitchens practice anymore because it is labor intensive. But it's a labor of love.
If you work in my kitchen there is never time to lean or take a break. There is always a carrot to be julienned, a vinaigrette to be made or a recipe to be mixed. If you work for me for two years or so, you're going to know how to make a variety of sausages, smoked meats, breads, donuts, bagels, pastas, sauces, soups and all of the sudden you have some experience to put under your belt and jot down on a resume. You've got a skill. A specific skill that many professional cooks these days no longer experience. Canned corned beef hash? Hell no, you know how to make real corned beef, from scratch, cheaper and a million times tastier. Instant sauces? Nope. You've learned how to make proper chicken broths and how to utilize the ends of smoked hams and bones that you fabricated to make a flavorful base for a delicious split pea soup. Your a pro. The diners feel it and appreciate it. Your spreading the love. It's not instant gratification, it's the long haul. But once you put a few months together, and those months become years, all the sudden you have a career.
10,000 hours is the number that it takes for one to become an expert in their field. A lot of chefs have those hours under their belts. Most chefs move on to spending less time behind the stoves on the line and more time in an office with a computer or on the other side of the line expediting. I can proudly say that my 10,000 (plus many more) hours have always been on the line, cooking. It's where I have felt most at home, most confident and in most control since I was about 16 or 17 years old.
When we open the doors at 7:00am customers are experiencing not just a run of the mill breakfast-lunch "greasy spoon", but the passion of a chef and his team. Passion is not a hobby. It involves suffering for what you do. If you are truly passionate about something you have to be willing to suffer for it, to sacrifice for it and to earn it. That is what elevates the cuisine and creates an environment for the staff to give excellent service. That is what has shaped Spoon and Seed since we opened the doors 1,000 days or so ago.