I suppose I should fess up to something. It’s not that it’s a secret, or something I don’t want to talk about. It’s just been a little hard to have to do, and sad to talk about. I put my notice in at Veil.
It’s not really a surprising move, to those that know me well. My schedule at Veil had been minimized from a salaried full time position to an hourly paid two days a week, and my focus had begun to shift to my internship and the ice cream shop.
My internship, I have been hesitant to write about at all, due to some threatening non-disclosure agreements and stern warnings not to write about it. But I believe I am safe in mentioning that the powers that be are putting together a comprehensive cookbook on modern techniques. I am beyond lucky to have been brought on as the first of many interns, to see the lab form, and watch the project grow. So when people ask, “Is there a textbook, or some kind of guide to molecular gastronomy?” I smile and say all I am allowed to, “soon….”
As for the ice cream shop, it’s a shift I never expected to make. I have focused on plated desserts so long, made choices in my career to foster my growth in that area, and always worked in small artisanal restaurants. I pushed everything out of the way that distracted me from developing creatively, including learning the business side of things. One can only add so much to their life at once, only hold so much in their brains. (I heard a professor once say, “for every students name I have to remember, there goes the Latin name for a butterfly.”)
But as I come of age in the kitchen, and watch friends launch their own endeavors, it has become clear that the time to begin learning about business is here. Without this knowledge, I am powerless. I used to say that I never wanted to worry about owning a restaurant. I just wanted to cook. While this still holds true, it’s become clear that if I ever want to make my expression, free from any restriction, I have to build myself a forum. What that is, I don’t yet know. I think about little treat shops, dessert only restaurants, tiny 6 table dinner houses, wholesaling dessert components and complete menu’s to restaurants that can’t afford full time pastry chefs, custom cakes, a culinary retreat with classes build on my in law’s amazing deep forest property in Oregon, little coffee shops with baked yummies, taking over The Frontier, (a real country restaurant on the outskirts of the Willamette Valley decorated with John Wayne posters and past members of the live exotic bird exhibit housed at the restaurant,) and reviving the 1950′s drive-in I worked at in high school.
But it’s become clear for the first time in my life, that knowing how to make perfect food won’t keep a business alive. My innocent and naive belief over the years has been, “If I make perfect food, every day, people will come and I’ll be successful, the business will fall into place.” But watching friends and employers struggle it’s become clear that my lack of business knowledge could take any dream of mine down quickly, breaking my heart with it.
Working for Molly, I am in part exchanging my culinary know how for her business knowledge. This lady has put as much effort into developing herself as a businesswoman, owner, and employer, as I have into developing myself creatively. Just as I would take a stage, she took a seasonal job at J-Crew because she wanted to learn their reputable motivational tactics to better lead her own staff one day.
As I help develop new flavors, and standardize the production as the company grows from one store to many and possibly into the wholesale market, she will mentor me through the process of opening a business and running it successfully. I am proud to be a part of Molly Moon’s, as I look up to her business ethics and practices, leadership qualities, and believe in her and her company wholeheartedly.
As I was plating my new and last menu last week I felt a great sadness. I love plated desserts with everything in me, and being in a small intimate restaurant like Veil. Giving them up is painful, especially just as fruit comes into season! But if I ever want something of my own, it’s a sacrifice I need to make.
Besides, making ice cream all day sure does make me happy. You wouldn’t think it, but ice cream is pure science, and I look forward the years of learning attached to this discipline.
My last day at Veil is this coming Tuesday, and my final menu should run for at least another week or two. If you have been meaning to come in and try my desserts, hesitate no longer. Otherwise, come find me at Molly Moon’s ice cream shop in Wallingford, and try our flavors and some of my hand crafted toppings!