The Team is ever growing and evolving. We have come to know that the first two pillars of our brand are the food and customer service. But the third but of the two is our people. We have had good people, come through. And we wouldn’t be where we are right now without them.
For those of you keeping score, Number 1 AKA Monk AKA Sarge has developed an almost unexpected love for baking. Number 2 AKA Sue (or Sous) has left us for a lucrative career in biotech. She did make a few visits to the Waffle Cave this month, but for the most part she has found a permanent residence on a milk carton. Marketina, has also left us to focus on “life”. I’m not bitter…much.
Benjamin Button…is on a vision quest to find out what he wants to do with his life. For some reason, the family business doesn’t appear to be part of that plan. Guess we’ll have to groom the Government Twins for our exit strategy. The twins, they are working hard at their activities: karate and band. Kumites and Clarinets y’all. Kumites and Clarinets.
Tweeta…we are a part time gig for her. But when she is able she joins us in our baking division. One day I will have to record the interactions between Tweeta and Sarge (once I figure out what app will let me change their names so I can continue to protect the names and identities of the innocent). The Waterboy (a descendant from some multiple job having tribe) still joins us from the nether reaches of the bay area to do work a s a line cook specializing in chicken. Don’t laugh.
Now let me introduce you to the Energizer Bunny and her compadre the Mellow One. She has been an incredible free agent acquisition. Not in the vein of Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs where there is no greater option available, but in the game changing Reggie White to the Green Bay Packers kind of way. Energy, sales, customer service, customer facing ability…where have you been for the past 2 years? Glad you are on board now though.
Deacon is focused on his graduation. He is a senior in his last quarter at the university. We can’t put too much on him, because his future is right within reach. If we never learned anything working for all the managers and companies we ever worked for and in, we learned that the most important aspect of a company’s culture is to treat the employees like we want them to treat our customers. The warm fuzzies we maintain within the confines of the Waffle Cave will spill out to our customers. That peace/culture in the Cave spills out into the food. When it is found there, it becomes the secret ingredient. And that my friends, is jenga.
Life is short…eat something memorable.
There was something about the tournament on Han’s Island that inspired every red blooded American Male from my generation to believe that even though he had never entered a single dojo, somehow written in the deep recesses of our DNA was the latent knowledge of a Kung Fu Master. Why else would Jean Claude Van Damme have such a catalog of films (even though he has no discernible skills)? Steven Segal with limited acting ability carved out many action films
with 3 syllable titles. Jason Statham (the Transporter) has become an action star even though he is follicly challenged. Kill Bill, The Man with the Iron Fist, the Shaw Brothers, Golden Harvest Studios, are all words which are music to the ears. So when one of the Government Twins (aka Lil Bit) was in her dojo training for her Kumite it was a nice break from the calendar.
The calendar…February is at least as busy as October. As always we are working to maintain work life balance while expanding and establishing the brand. The demands of opening and running a business are myriad and merciless. There is never an end to the demands on our time. The stresses of executing each job at the highest possible level while constantly looking to land the next job leaves us sleep deprived and at times grumpy. So in the midst of all this WORK, (we are back to having two jobs in a day at least once a week) we have children that we need to raise and guide, and romance to keep alive.
Benjamin Button is getting serious about his future. I don’t know if it’s because of his girlfriend or he is just coming to the conclusion that life is serious. Budget talks, higher education, trade school, and living within your Values are the gist of our words of late. It takes work to find the most effective delivery of the information. It takes work to deliver a message in a manner that can be received. Information is no good if it is not delivered or accepted…ask any high school geometry or algebra teacher.
The Government Twins are….special. One believes she is grown. She is all of 11 years old. The other is the most dedicated student I have ever seen. She would rather do homework than sleep. Odd right? Anywho, her major discipline is Karate and this weekend is her Kumite tourney. The “team” going to Yuba City ranged from under 5 to 17. The belts ranged from yellow to black. But the thing that was coolest was how the kids all interacted.
Because there was the lone little girl the Sensei had all the kids interact and introduce themselves to one another. I was sitting reading my favorite book on my ipad when the instruction came that the kids had to introduce themselves, their favorite color, favorite food, and something weird about themselves. Knowing Lil Bit tends to play it close to the vest, I had to give the group my undivided attention. Because she is at that tweenage I won’t divulge her secrets. Well her favorite food was sushi. What kid’s favorite food is sushi? But I guess when you consider her environment it makes sense. But all her contemporaries were talking about pizza and pasta. I think we may have messed this child up. The weird thing will remain locked in the vault. The best response came from the 5 and under girl. If you know me, you know I am not by any stretch of the imagination a soggy guy. The reasons are many and there is not enough time to go into it. But I am not easily moved to that “Notebook” induced Ahhhhhh space. So when I heard 5 and Under say her favorite color was Rainbow (yes Rainbow), I had to stop and take stock of my life.
We are busy working on our menu. We are constantly organizing our assets and acquiring talent. We are incessantly emailing and responding to inquiries. But why do we do it? All the kids want is time. Kids love rainbows and vacations. Seriously whose favorite color is rainbows? Thank you 5 and under girl, you helped keep it in perspective. I can’t wait for it to rain again.
Tonight was good to step away from the waffle cave to remember
why we do what we do.
Life is short…eat something
Mardi Gras has passed. The Super Bowl is over. Lunar New Year is…is it time for Gung Hay Fat Choy yet? President’s Day is pressing. Black History Month (the shortest month of the year has the most holidays and if the petition to declare Super Bowl Monday a National Holiday garners enough signatures, there will be yet one more) is nearly at the halfway point. Soon we will be moving into spring and the sounds of spring will cause people to once more crave Pinx.
In the meantime, we had this discussion about tasty food. Now I have to give you a disclaimer that we are not going to add this to the menu, but Skunk must be a tasty meat. I know what you are thinking, but just follow me for a moment. Onions stink and they are fabulous (when cooked). Garlic is very tasty again when cooked. Fish Sauce (if you go into many a fine Asian Kitchen you will find this ingredient) is pungent and yet it works. So if stinky things taste good…skunk ribs must be fabulous! Again this was just an observation/supposition/thought. No self-respecting foodie not born in the Ozarks would ever partake in Skunk Fillet. Just a thought. In the meantime, we are working on a real dish Jerk Chicken Fettuccini.
Growth is happening. Chef has expanded her skills to include fudge making, chocolate design on strawberries, and such like. Her skills grow daily. Me…I am spending more time in the kitchen: call me Pot Washer Rex. We have to do everything we can to make this thing work. The beautiful thing about this is we are dedicating our efforts to one of those basic needs for humans. If we continue to focus on the foodie experience, our artisanal approach to catering should continue to serve us well. As we continue to collaborate and employ our team of talent, Pinx will keep chugging along making people happy with food that we would want to pay someone to eat. Enjoy the ride with us.
Life is short…eat something memorable.
Hollywood lied to us! They told us, if you build it they will come. That may be true when you have a huge budget and you pay extras to actually come, and you win an award. But in the food world, it is all about the customer experience.
Today Chef, Monk and I went to an artisanal coffee shop. Everybody has been to Megabucks and enjoyed the “place where everybody knows your name” atmosphere. But when you really challenge your palate, there is nothing special about the actual libations. I have created many off menu drinks to infuse flavor into my drinks. Take the Extra Caramel, 3 Pump Vanilla, no foam, no water Chai Latte, or the Blended Raspberry Lemonade, or Raspberry Vanilla Frappe, to name a few. It wasn’t until today that I realized, I made such complicated drinks because I didn’t care for their menu items. And that my friends, is the genius of megabucks.
Their focus is not on the product but rather on the customer experience. If they take care of the customers, the customers will return. The customer is the focus and because we all love ourselves, we in turn love those who make us feel good about ourselves. Again…genius! The artisan spends all his focus on his craft, his art, and the art is the reward. It is nice if people appreciate it (though secretly all artists crave acceptance/understanding/ or appreciation). The spot we went too puts forth great effort into its goods. The effort could be tasted and appreciated immediately. It was so good and the quality so tangible that you wouldn’t mind spending a little coin to appreciate it. Coffee is still more per gallon than gasoline. And Gas is too expensive. But the when you go to the artisanal spot, you understand why.
The Shoeless Contessa taught us to use quality ingredients. Mama Dean let us know butter, sugar, salt, and a whole lotta love should go into every dish. Guy “Fiery “made it crystal clear that we want to make food that evokes a response. And the Iron Chefs have taught us to be fearless in our combinations, conviction, and point of view. Now we have once more found inspiration to continue on our culinary path.
We went by the field (of our fellows), and gathered wisdom. Today we learned that the marketing machine makes brand. But we also saw that the artisanal work will get you noticed and appreciated. The artisanal work will make your stamp. We have come to the conclusion that we want to be the best of both worlds. We are building it, some have come. We want to keep them coming back.
Life is short…eat something memorable.
Happy New Year!!! When is it officially too late to wish someone Happy New Year? Realistically we have crossed over into Dress Up Your Pet Day and National Skateboarding Week so what is the true etiquette for this salutation? In any case, we have been in a food induced coma since the 28th of December. Not because we have eaten everything in sight in the Waffle Cave but rather because we served so much food and skipped so many hours of sleep that once we had the opportunity, we have reemerged in the middle of January!
Again no one told us that the peak of the busy season is the Holiday season. This industry has many unique quirks, peaks, valleys, and nuances. That has been the lesson we learned in 2012.
First…team is everything! We are nothing without our support. Monk, Sue, Benjamin Button, Logistics Prime, the Government Twins, Waterboy, Deacon, Chitown CPA, the Director, Organizational Engineer, Marketina, Tweeta, Ming, the Silent Pinoy, Sarge, Mover and Shaker, Telecom Maven, and everybody else that has made a contribution to our existence in the past 12 months. It has been a blur. But we couldn’t prepare all the food without the army. We couldn’t do the logistics without the support. We couldn’t deliver and decorate without the team. To fully illustrate the need for team/support, we had turned away jobs in December because we were at our max capacity, but with the help of the additional team members, we were able to grow to the capacity where we could do 3 to 4 jobs in the same day. We went from planning 2 days to execute 1 job, to doing 2 jobs in a day and then completing 3 to 4 in one day. The successes and growth from this year have all been because of the team.
Second…no plan is no bueno! Every aspect of our growth has been from a calculated step in each direction. We consider each and every job for feasibility, exposure, and ROI. We can’t be everything to everyone. Without a clear vision of who we are, and where we want to go, we could have easily gotten lost in the attempt to grow. It helps that Chef and I talk about this all the time and that we are on the same page. We have had a lot of input and ideas, but our shared vision has kept us on course.
Third…if you cook it, they will come…only after you have sold it! At the end of the day there are a lot of talented cooks out there and many great concepts. But it still takes a powerful marketing campaign to move the product. We saw that in this year’s great food truck race. I have to admit that the winners encouraged us, because we have worked with and competed against them head to head. To think that we bested them in the 2011 Vote for Your Vendor Contest, and at that time they already had 3 years industry experience on us. We know that we too can do it big and have our own truck!
But before we focus on the end of the 5 year plan, we have begun year two with the lessons learned from year one. We have vendor relationships, customers, corporate customers, and now a regular location that will afford us greater exposure. The spa food experiment has given us greater creativity. We have spent our time creating new menu items and packaging. Our marketing has represented our taste well. And now we are poised to make a real impression.
So as we prepare to go into the waffle cave to create more items like the Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie, Crab Bisque, Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookie, and Cajun Chicken Fettuccini, we take with us the memories from 2012 and our plans for 2013. When we emerge – well rested and full of creativity (fare thee well Punchfork) – we will have evolved and the joy of eating will engulf all who are so blessed to cross our path.
Life is short…eat something memorable.
We kept the streak alive. I don’t know if you know it but Chef’s creations often cause the samplers thereof to have fits of swearing. The swearing is followed by the most curious faces – disbelief mostly – as the lookers stare at the morsel that had just blown their mind muscles. So today at the evening feeding we heard and saw the same effects as Chef once more successfully made the common uncommon and shocked another 130 with her incomparable skills. It is strangely satisfying that on this holiday (one of the two most celebrated and enjoyed in American Culture), when we were charged with coming to an establishment (Gasco Refinery) to provide its employees with some modicum of joy as they dealt with the challenge of the Homer Simpsonness, that we heard those ever satisfying words, “that was some good [blank] turkey”.
Today Waterboy brought with him Deacon – young marketing student, friend and compatriot of Benjamin Button (why Deacon…because his singing reminds me of a young Deacon)—and together with Chef, Chitown CPA (because she is an accountant from Chicago…duh), and Monk AKA Number 1 AKA Sarge AKA the Organizational Engineer we proceeded to take down the Gasco Refinery. This was actually our second visit at Gasco, we had actually been there before on Thanksgiving day. The Short Rib Loaf had left such a great impression that they called us back today. But this was in fact the first time that this group worked together. The menu included Turkey, Dressing, Roasted Vegetables, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Pumpkin Pie, and Cheesecake. Now looking at this offering there is nothing that shouts Pinx. Everything is familiar. But let’s not forget that Chef can put her foot in a bowl of Cereal. Today’s food elicited expletives.
Because we are committed to the customer experience – eat something memorable – it is always important for us to interact with our customers. We want the entire experience to be wondrous. From that we heard some things so funny and real that it was well worth the working today. I only hope that we were able to bring joy to the employees. Especially that one lady, who came through, got her plate and said, “Have a great rest of your day…or whatever”. She clearly was in need of some Pinxification.
Life is short…eat something memorable.
First it was Sue. She left us for some random BioTech firm. And now MONK! Are you kidding me? MONK, where are you?
There is a natural law on the body that requires us to get a minimum of 8 hours sleep a day. When we don’t get our sleep, our immune system tends to fail and we get seriously ill. With our endeavors, we have all sacrificed that whole overrated sleep thing. Sadly, our hard work had knocked Monk out and why now?
This has been the single most demanding week of our existence. More so than working on any festival we have done to date. The thing that is most demanding is that, Monk (our resident Organization Engineer) was out all week. Yes, I give her the business. Yes, she is “quirky”. Yes, she is an acquired intensity. But this enterprise is not the same without her. There I said it. She is an integral part of the team. She makes it possible for us to do what we do because she ties together all the ends. Actually everyone on the team adds a different ingredient to make Pinx go. Marketina, is best at collecting. Tweeta – did I mention she is now on the team – is a precise baker. Sue – she is on a milk carton, but we still love her – is Chef’s right hand. The Government Twins are great helpers. Wherever they can fit in or help us they are there. Those girls are the best. Then there is the Waterboy. The Waterboy is the ultimate hustler (the young man has 4 jobs including our enterprise as he continues his education). But even with all his jobs, he will be available at the drop of a hat. He has also introduced a few of his fellows to our operation: Ming and the Silent Pinoy. We will have more information about these two fellas as they do more with us. And last but not least there is the Director.
This week, Chef hired a Director of Catering. She has been a great help to us. Now we can take two jobs a day every day! We just may need that. The Director brings to the party experience and talent. Now she is not alone carrying the weight of the operation. Watch out world! It is on now.
The expansion into the west bay, south bay, and east bay has also been enhanced by a location in the North Bay. We will be working with our favorite Salon and Day Spa. Don’t be cynical…it was our favorite Salon before we started working with them. We are starting a pilot program where we will be providing our delectable delights on a weekly basis.
I would love to say more, but the sleep deprivation of the week has caught up to me. It is now time to get to bed. We start again at 6AM.
Life is short…eat something memorable.
Every person who is committed to a cause needs a mentor. A sensei if you will. The Karate Kid had Mr. Miagi ( this is a reference to the original Ralph Macchio version not the newfangled Jayden Smith rendition, and yes I am telling my age). Steve Young had Joe Montana. Luke Skywalker had Obi Wan Kenobi. Chef has Yoda.
Now Yoda is a kindly aged woman at church who has skills. She is known for her culinary talents and great hospitality. I am always entertained by her conversations with Chef about random food preparations. The thing that makes it so great is that they talk about all that rib sticking food, when you listen closely, I promise you can hear Paula Dean smile and say Y’all. I know I smile and drool. So last week they were sitting at a table talking about turkey preparations. And the inspiration sent Chef into the week with many new designs and recipes.
When I mention that there were many new designs, let me take a moment to first properly set the table. Chef’s turkey preparation has always been JUICY. Let me say it again…JUICY. I don’t think you understand. The continuous 48 along with Alaska and Hawaii are all subject to the second most popular holiday of the year. Because the settlers survived and made friends with their neighbors the indigenous people, they had a feast and introduced to the lore of gastronomy, the tryptophan laced and often dry bird we all know as turkey. Because of the annual challenge of producing a turkey that does not remind you of the Gobi Desert. This challenge has led to the introduction of new preparations like the deep fried Cajun turkey (always fry with peanut oil folks). But Chef gets a moist, succulent, juicy turkey breast while -- wait for it -- roasting her turkey. Yeah Boyee!!
It was 4 years ago when Chef first prepared dinner at the house and the legend of her skills was born. I will never forget Top Flight’s face as he first sampled and later named the “Crack Roll”. Top Flight works under the auspices of the Homeland security to secure our friendly skies as a TSA. On this particular day, he came over after he had finished his shift. We still had bounty: turkey, coffee braised short ribs, brown sugar glazed lamb chops, cornbread dressing, candied yams, southern greens, and the like. Top Flight sat down looking at his plate. He said grace. Without breaking eye contact with the meats on his plate, he took a bite of the crack roll. Then after three of four chews, he slowly turned to his right hand to understand what was tantalizing his taste buds and palate. His eyes widened then he quipped, ”these are crack rolls!” The name has stuck ever since. The same day a non-lamb eater was converted. She told us she didn’t like lamb, before she knocked back two chops. Her eyes were wide and she was seen scratching her neck as she said “C’mon man” as she left. That is my story and I'm sticking to it.
So I said that to say Chef’s recipes were already strong, but it was good to see her fine tuning her craft with her conversations with Yoda. We needed it because Thanksgiving Day this year was busy.
Now that we have had the moment to recuperate, we turn our attention to December where we are looking to expand our operation to a permanent location. There is a swanky little Spa Salon where our tasty bites and morsels would fit in quite well. I don’t want to let the menu out of the bag, but there will be a sampling of great food. Who would’ve thunk it? We didn’t. But there is nothing like the joy that our food brings. The reaction of Top Flight will permanently be etched in my mind. It makes me want to tell the world…
Life is short…eat something memorable.
Sooooo, the operation is expanding DEEP into the West Bay. In the past 8 days we have been to Los Altos and Millbrae to provide our delicacies to folks that wouldn’t normally experience “Southern Gourmet”. Additionally we have had to employ some additional talent. We’ll let you in behind the curtain in a
The long and short of it is we are expanding at a Clumplike rate. The jobs are coming faster and more consistently than we could have anticipated so our little brainchild/baby is having growing pains and stretch marks. The scope of the work is demanding that we utilize more hidden talents and skills of our crew as well as add additional talent. You already know Number two has risen to become Sue because of her abilities in the kitchen to be Chef’s right hand and second brain. I personally think that she became Sue because she cosigns every check written by Chef. And I mean EVERY check. Then there is Monk. Monk gets a lot of ink, because she has so many aspects to her character (much like an onion, just so many layers), but she her special super power has found a specific use: baking! She is so precise – if you know her you know about the uniform cans with labels facing the same direction with a ½ inch gap between each row – in everything that she does (which by the way is why she was also dubbed the Organizational Engineer) so imagine what she can do in the kitchen with items that need measurement. Let me help you out….FABULOUSLY! Marketina also has been a great help in the kitchen. Not only has she stepped up to help dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s from an administrative standpoint but she isn’t afraid to step into the kitchen and get dirty. These three are our intrapreneurs. We count on them to get it done. But they have been so successful
that we can’t get it done alone. So now we have added the Waterboy.
Last week was his first foray into our world. We had a reunion in the Land of the Stanford Tree, for some Stanford Cardinal Alumnae. The spread included an introduction to our interpretation of breakfast: Sweet Potato Pie Waffles, Red Velvet Pancakes, Farmer’s Market Scramble, Fruit and Yogurt Parfait, Chicken Apple Sausage, and Maple Glazed Apple wood Smoked Bacon. If there was an MVP for the spread it would have to be bacon. This Bacon is so crazy, we might just do three versions of bacon at next year’s food festival. The waffle is good and all but the bacon is insane! There was a bacon creeper. The way he was lingering around (unsubbishly—criminal minds reference) I would have been uncomfortable if I was a piece of bacon. So insert into this environment, the Waterboy. Don’t get it twisted; our Waterboy is not a sad, few fries short of a happy meal football savant, but rather a front 7 prodigy who also just happens to love to cook. Now I am not a small human. I was 225 before I began to enjoy the culinary brilliance perpetrated by Chef. Now I am sitting at NFL middle linebacker weight. But the Waterboy casts an imposing shadow. Thanks to Lifeskills411 he is self-aware. So he always shares his 32 pearlies. I won’t share the garage scene, but do ask when you see one of us. The event was priceless. As a matter of fact, Waterboy and I made a little friend. Everywhere we went she appeared on her little scooter, waving and smiling. She was genuinely intrigued.
This week we crossed over into the West bay once more to simply do a drop off for a referral from the Dog Party. I tell you, I don’t know how everyone finds us, but we have to keep this train moving. If it continues going like this we will be able to do our part to reduce the unemployment rate. Our yelp presence, our Google SEO and SEM, efforts all continue to make us visible and viable. Our staff makes every event unforgettable. And the food makes it all worthwhile.
Life is short…eat something memorable.
So Chef and I were returning from a job and we began just considering the state of the education system. Follow me here this random stream of consciousness will make sense in a moment. When we were coming up four score and seven years ago – actually it is closer to about a little more than half that—English was a completely different beast. We were required to learn to spell. There were no computers to spell check your work (even in college, there were computer labs and word processors, laptops were very rare). You had to be accurate as you typed. There were typing classes in High School for goodness sake. Come to think of it there was Junior High School not middle school. Now this is not a diatribe about how we walked in the snow to school, uphill both ways after doing chores, milking cows, and doing a paper route. Let me say officially for the record, if the good old days were so great, why are inventors always creating things to improve our “quality of life”? If the good old days were so great, why isn’t anyone moving into a brand new log cabin with 3 ½ out houses? If the good old days were so great, why isn’t everyone Amish? I am absolutely a present day-ist. Carpe diem! Tomorrow isn’t promised and yesterday is history. But yet again I digress…
Our conversation turned to how hard it must be for English teachers to teach today as opposed to when we were in school. Consider the impact of text messaging…now spelling is a lost art. Consider the impact of Twitter…140 characters does not allow for the development of characters or the use of adjectives, adverbs, compound sentences or prepositional phrases. Translation? There are a whole lot of sentence fragments being squeezed out into the communicationshpere. Yes that word was completely self-created, but that is the point. All the rules are in complete flux. Google is a verb for goodness sake. How did that happen?
So this is the environment that has given birth to this very blog and I – wait for it, we are at the pay off here – am bitter that I was not properly prepared! First of all blogging ain’t easy. Because I was not aware that cooking would carry with it so much “documentation”, I never paid much attention to the various ways of overcoming writer’s block. Fortunately our cast of characters provides enough entertainment/inspiration to keep this thing going. Pray that they keep being them.
Consider if you will Monk our resident Organizational Engineer – just now, she actually FINALLY freely admitted that she is anal. It took a great deal of self-restraint not to comment aloud, although technically I am commenting here. Then there is Sue. We miss Sue. She is such a great help to Chef (who hates her moniker by the way…but a rose by any other name), but she has just started a regular day job. Funny thing is, as soon as she gets a regular 9-5, we start getting hit up with 3 gigs a week. Sleep is such a precious thing. Why is it that we stop napping after elementary school? NAPS ARE GREAT (said in Tony the Tiger voice)! Marketina is a frenetic facilitator of administrative details. We had a gig in the city (legal team’s launch for something) and she dotted every I and crossed every T. I was seriously impressed by her attention to details and needs anticipation. She has that as a gift. Chef she is a character unto herself. Now, a good agent doesn't mess with the talent. And for the record, I am not messing with the talent, but I have to confess that she is as eccentric as Miles Davis. She just doesn't show everybody. Ask me about the” if I’m standing, everybody should be standing” monologue.
Then when you add to this (and this is a size-able amount of inspiration), there is our research. Every time we dine out we see things we could do. Things we hate. And every now and then we are totally floored by the culinary talent putting out food. We just want our food to inspire folks, like we are inspired.
So we have waffle cookies to box, brown butter sauce to create, Tiffany punch to test, and a kitchen to clean. Until our next post…
Life is short…eat something memorable.