Atmosphere is Everything
I have a favorite question I love to ask friends (new and old) to get to know them better. I am curious about their most memorable and enjoyable food experiences. What I inevitably find, which is absolutely true for myself, is that the most memorable food experiences had to do partially with the food and partially (perhaps even more?) with the experience and the ambience.
A few highlights from my history of eating food (I’ll probably do a follow up post on these)…
1) An authentic crawdad boil in middle school.
2) A hole-in-the-wall Chinese place blaring 90s rap & hip hop.
3) Lobster bisque that was mind-melting.
Watching the most recent season of Chef’s Table was a reminder of this intuitive, although looked-over, fact of business / life / etc. Crafting a meaningful experience is equally as important as the product you put out into the world. The best chefs are finding ways to tease out multi-sensory experiences that are unexpected. This is what sets them a part. A lot of people can make fantastic food.
To be clear, one doesn’t function without the other, but both of them working in tandem (product & experience) is where the magic happens.
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Read the first post in this short blog seres // “the business of chef’s table: scale isn’t everything”
Don’t Buy Into the ‘Scale’ Myth
I just started watching the newest season of Chef’s Table on Netflix. It’s a must watch series in my opinion, but don’t start with the most recent season. Start at the beginning. It’s better that way.
While watching the first episode of Chef’s Table: France, I was struck by a very specific notion: scale isn’t everything. Too often in our society today, people imply that building something meaningful means to build something BIG. Something with scale and reach and influence seems to be desirous above most (if not all) else.
Then, you watch chefs who care so deeply for their craft that they choose explicitly to not make business decisions for the sake of efficiency and growth. They run their own gardening operations and they don’t set a menu until the day of service just to see what vegetables are going to be the absolute freshest for that day. Write that business plan in your MBA program and they would laugh you out of the room.
I believe this sort of uncompromising approach to food is above all an issue of integrity. For a chef to sacrifice nearly everything else to deliver on the promise of incredible food and a beautiful experience, is to see a person honoring their craft with all they have. This is what I admire most of the world’s top chefs, and what I find most inspiring…
They are not letting others dictate what success is for them. They are pursuing their passions and people happen to want to partake in the action.