Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Could it be... a Super Power?

Why food? What is it about food that makes me tick? I believe that food has the incredible power to bring people together. We’ve all heard the phrase “the main ingredient is love”.  I believe that emotion while cooking is the essential ingredient in food. Whether it is love, or passion, or excitement, or inspiration: these emotions can truly make the difference in the flavor of a dish. These dishes now have the power to change the circumstance in the room. Have you noticed that pivotal conversations or memories happen over meals? Marriage proposals, baby announcements, the unfortunate discussion of illness, funerals, holidays, and yes, even arguments; they typically occur around food.

I believe that we would be able to find world peace if we discussed these very issues around a dinner table. One of my favorite moments ever occurred in Merida, Mexico. It was at the very end of opening a restaurant. Typically, I would bring my team together for a night on the town after a successful opening. I mean, you never know if you are going to see these individuals again so make sure to make the last night memorable. On this particular trip, it dawned on me: We should all cook, in a way, together. My team came from many different places – Peru, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Illinois, Florida, New York. We had the best final meal I have ever enjoyed. Ceviche made by Juana (Peru), Rice made by Pedro & Angel (the D.R.), Lechón Asado which is Cuban pulled pork which I made (Florida), fried plantains (a group effort), Chicha Morada (a peruvian non alcoholic drink), and a ton of love for our work family. The fifteen of us shared this wonderful meal with the owner of the restaurant who is Venezuelen and his wife, a Mexican. We laughed, we cried, we shared our dreams and our fears. In that moment, we knew, we would forever be family.

This is the power I feel I have in food. Some call it super powers, I guess I don’t see these as ‘super’. For me, it’s food. Food is my super power AND my kryptonite. I think the fact that it qualifies as both just proves that it might be my super power.

I have had mentors in my life point out several aspects that I bring to the table. I learn very quickly and adapt. I believe it is an essential skill for opening restaurants and consulting them. Very quickly, one needs to learn all aspects of the market. What flavors does the public enjoy? Identify the best marketing technics. How does this client prefer business be conducted? Ebb. Flow. “Be Gumby, dammit” as one mentor would say. A great boss once told me I had an uncanny ability to make people like me even when I was telling them something that is difficult to hear – from terminating someone to identifying poor hygiene. He was always amazed that people left the room hugging me after such a conversation. I think it is because these individuals know that I truly care about them and their own progress as an individual. I want to see each person do exceptionally well. I want nothing more than to see them succeed.

So to my teams and families from many an opening – I miss you all and love you, my family. Siempre serán mi familia, los quiero mucho.

To my mentors and all who have allowed me to learn from you – I am forever grateful for the lessons and the time invested.

Thank you for reading. I hope you take the time to Love Stranger(s) today.

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