Too Much to Talk About

While it is always quite busy in the Co-op kitchens, it is particularly busy right now in Deli Land. We are all hustling, preparing for the expansion of the Grab N Go section expanding roughly three or four fold at the downtown store. The deli employees have created a whole bunch of meal solutions based on customer requests. There will be Paleo boxes, meat and potato combos, chicken and noodles, new wraps, new quesadillas, and even roasted chi04-2013-Catering-Veggie-Hummus-Tray-IMG_4820ckens with roots available for your immediate, (or delayed), consumption. We will also be adding new and exciting salads this summer.

Additionally, catering is really picking up as summer approaches. I had the opportunity to deliver an order on Saturday, and my goodness, did the platters look lovely! It is really and truly amazing what you can do with a bunch of organic food and a large rectangular platter. I have a feeling that this summer is going to be quite astounding in terms of catering, so if you have any notion that you might need our catering services at any point in the near future, you might want to give us a call. We are filling up fast!

There is a bit of sadness as well; our Assistant Deli Manager at the Cordata store, Ashley Hoppes, is stepping down in order to focus on her studies. Her multi-dimensional talents have been a real asset to the Deli, and her managerial presence will be missed. The good news is that she will stay with the Co-op as the Specialty Cheese Department Head. Have you discovered her Cheese blog yet? Fresh from the Fromagerie? No? Well, go there NOW. It is sure to be a sensation.

The Cordata Deli’s new Assistant Manager, Kurt Stauber, will be coming in at the end of April and running the Cordata kitchen. He has loads and loads of experience in kitchens, resorts and on farms. Yes, farms. Well rounded in many respects.

As I said, too much to talk about. I am sure I left something out, but, you will be hearing from me in about a week, so I will make sure to mention it then. As for now, I am quite busy and don’t have time to sit around all day writing down all the silly thoughts that make their way into my colander of a mind.

Shout Out!!

Benedict Mt BakeryOh, the weekend. A time to kick back, relax, and eat at least one thing that makes tears form in the corners of your eyes. One thing that makes you grateful for everything you have given up during the week in order to eat this rich, delicious and fantastic meal.

Okay, yeah, I guess I don’t give up that much during the week. In fact, this last week I might have had pie for breakfast twice, but these facts do not make this creation any less enjoyable. In fact, in retrospect, breakfast pie makes this meal even more noteworthy. Context is everything, you see.

I will get to it. On Sunday morning, I happened in to Mount Bakery with a very good friend of mine who also loves good food. We decided to split a sweet crepe before starting on our meals, and it was a good thing we did. I would not have had room after.

My friend ordered Mt. Bakery’s version of the classic Benedict, served, as you might surmise, on a tasty belgian waffle. Yeah, it was good. He is a purist and prefers the traditional English Muffin, but personally, I always make room for waffles in any meal I eat. Just in case.mount bakery

I ordered a pan seared roasted duck breast crepe. The crepe was heavenly; mixed local mushrooms, shallots, spinach, goat cheese and an incredible pear and parsnip puree that pulled the whole thing together. The flavors, save the cheese, delicate and balanced perfectly. The cheese gave it that added kick that makes your mouth water even as you chew. I could not have wished for more.

It pleases me to no end that such things can be had in the little town of Bellingham. It makes me so happy to be here, and comforted to know that I can partake in such pleasures, even if it is a two breakfast pie week.

 

A Common Language

I heart youYou know how people say that love is the universal language?  While others state that math, in fact is the language that is universally understood? I would posit that for many of us, well, most of us, food is the universal language, and the way it speaks of our culture and values is unmistakable.

That is why I like working with the people in the Co-op delis and bakery. There is an agreed-upon language which is spoken, and this language clearly illustrates that local, organic, non-GMO and quality food is sacred. Above all else, to these truths we cling.

Unfortunately, it makes some of us (me) a bit of a food snob. The other day, someone I know (who will remain nameless for the purposes of this blog) told me she was going to Jack in the Box, of all places. Before I knew what I was doing, I gave her a look of disgust. She misunderstood my look and assumed I was worried about her having enough time to get there and back in the time allotted, and before I knew what was happening, I said something like, “I actually can’t believe you are going to put that stuff in your body.”

Yeah, I did. I work so hard all the time to not appear to the outside world that I am judgmental, all the while silently judging everyone who crosses my path, then, out pops this doozy. I felt horrible. I couldn’t believe I said such a thing. Well, actually, that is also untrue. I am not at all surprised. I was thinking it just seconds before.

Moments later I realized what my problem was. It is the problem with things such as fast food, GMOs, and my generous and non-judgmental nature; they are all patently untrue. Yes, there is some real food in fast food, but for the most part, the way fast food is produced is by nature, synthetic. GMOs? Same. My non-judgmental nature? This exists only in the deep recesses of my imagination.

I guess in its own way, authenticity is just another language. Unfortunately, it is not as universal as love, math, or food, but it breeds trust and an environment of generosity. Just another reason the Co-op is such a great place to work. Even if you happen to be struggling with a false sense of elitism, like I do on occasion, you can rest assured that the food at the co-op is what it claims to be. It says so all over our labels.

 

Why I like Complaints

This is going to be a very short post. Here goes:

I like complaints because they give me a chance to be better. I appreciate it when people treat me to their honest opinions. It is a compliment and a gift and I try to use them as challenges and opportunities.

Criticism may not be agreeable,  but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It  calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
~Winston Churchill

circle of trust

There you have it. Complain to me articulately and thoughtfully and you will always have my ear. As well as my gratitude.

My First Annual Meeting and Party (AMP)

Macaroons-IMG_4576Ever since the AMP ended, (yes, since the second it was over) I have been dying to write about it. Of course, I had a full day of recovery time, as my right arm was a bit too sore to move, but that is a story for another time, another place.

The AMP is the big event at the Co-op. I have to admit, I was a little worried about it, as it was my first time coordinating it, but as the event played out, I came to see that my concern was for naught.

It is a team effort on the largest of scales. Put on to inform and thank our members, we do our best to be our best, and it takes a lot of work and care to pull it off. We estimate that we serve between 600 and 700 people on the night of the event. It is an important event to everyone at the Co-op, and we do our best not to let anyone down.

I am writing this blog post to thank the people responsible for making the catering part of it so great.

First of all, James Aikins. The man who orchestrates the food procurement and preparation, is truly a miracle on two legs. On the two days previous to the event, he makes about 700 lbs of food in a way that conveys love, attention, and gratitude. He works in a small kitchen with a small walk-in refrigerator, and does a great deal of the work himself. He does not complain. Ever. I aspire to be like him someday.

Secondly, the bakers. Y’all know how much I love me some cake, and they did not disappoint this year. The desserts were beautiful and plentiful; two things you need to make desserts absolutely perfect, and they were.

Donna-Zoe-Ashley-Sara-IMG_4432Next, the service staff. There are not enough words, not enough truly special and amazing words to describe our staff. Donna, Trey, Ashley, Zoe, Jessie; these people are the most diligent, caring people you will ever meet or work with, and working next to them is always a lesson for me. They do very demanding work with smiles on their faces and all care, truly, about the experience the members are having.

Next, the volunteers. Who are these magical people and where do they come from? I don’t know but they make the event more manageable and enjoyable….and, let’s just say it, entertaining.

Lastly, and most importantly, the members. They are who we do this for, and they are, by far the best group of people I have ever had the opportunity to work for. They are forgiving, patient, kind and helpful, and the evening is made so much more enjoyable because of all the gratitude we receive from them throughout. It is truly amazing to cater an event in the midst of such gratitude.

Jesscia-Ashley-IMG_4574So, there you have it. A labor of love embodied in the Annual Meeting and Party. Thank you all for being a part of it. I learned a lot and look forward to next year.