I had a meeting with an awesome client today who we love and loves everything we do. They just came out to talk, and when that went on too long I whipped up a panzanella and some leftover pistachio fed tritip and some Jew cous with some of our arugula. That is what we eat for lunch, and we love it....and they got it. Thank you, Jesus.
Then on to another meeting with a woman who wants us to do a pre-rehearsal dinner in October. No worries. Except she insisted on crashing Monday night to see if we are worthy, or maybe coming to some party we are catering to check out our food. Do people actually let random clients crash parties of other clients? Seriously?
Oh, and she thinks we are stupid because we can't guarantee wild salmon in October like the other Village caterer can, and like the big Carmel restaurant can. I explained that it is not a crime to misrepresent unpackaged food as something else: wild vs. farm salmon; organic vs commercial produce; real meat vs commodity.....it is just commercial fraud, which can only be redressed with a lawsuit, and only for the price difference. So, go ahead and sue Whole Foods for the four bucks for your hunk of salmon....after paying a hundred or two for the DNA test in Santa Cruz to prove that it is actually farmed.
Then, she proudly told me that her caterer for the wedding at Holman grows their own produce. It says so on their voice mail, see. They live on a quarter acre on the cold side of the valley. Right.
We actually do grow SOME of our stuff....chard, herbs, padrone peppers, some weird Peruvian tubers, rhubarb, etc. We have thousands of dollars of raised beds, and spend hours and hours a week composting, fucking with the drip system, trapping gophers....and have barely enough to take care of the few folks at Monday Night who order our weird shit.
We do have people up the street who grow stuff just for us.....and their other friends...and themselves....and a farm that just grows for us and Tassajara. And a kid who grows fingerling potatoes for us across the creek. And the Rana Creekies, who we supply with seeds to grow purple mustard and bronze fennel and arugula and tomatillos. And un-named wine buddies who grow watermelons and heirlooms for us....and another kid who also grows heirlooms. Just for us.
But we don't claim to grow what we don't grow, and we don't claim to serve what cannot be served. I guess we are stupid.
Most of our stuff costs us about a dollar a pound more than everyone else pays (our locals take their stuff out in trade on Mondays....you will see them at the VIP tables). My buddy who owns Corralitos just sent along a defensive, groveling letter apologizing for having to raise his prices for the first time in five years. He got massive amounts of shit for doing this in the middle of a recession. I broke his price rise down.....seven cents per sausage increase.
Our other commercial produce supplier.... who we love beyond words.... made a business out of driving around to all the small, cool suppliers...even as far away as a small, fully organic valley up by Sacrament. We had the best, coolest stuff ever...completely unavailable at any price anywhere. Their real clients were Bernardus and some other hotels and restaurants, and they counted on those folks buying the big stuff: lettuce, carrots, beets, spuds, onions. Those guys dropped them because the prices were a few cents a pound more than the normal commercial crap everybody else buys. This puts my guy out of business....and I am stuck. No fun toys to play with. And I miss doing business with my friend. And that valley up by Sac needs to find a whole new world of clients.
Back in the day, the sweet ladies in Bemidji who supply our wild rice tried to talk me down...for my own economic good....to commercial grade wild rice. Our stuff is the extra premium, and it is picked by Indians in canoes. Fucking WILD rice.
Cue Fargo accent: "Well, ya know...it's a dollar a pound more for the fancy. That's almost a third, ya know......"
The same story could be told all across the board.....real pineapples are a buck more a pound than the inedible ones. Ditto tomatoes....even Romas.
Here is my response.....
WHAT THE FUCK CAN YOU BUY FOR A BUCK A POUND?
Rice? Flour? Water?
And how much are you eating? Can you really tell me that you don't have an extra dollar for a pound of food to have something fabulous, that may change your life....as opposed to something that just fills the pie hole?
"There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey."
John Ruskin, English critic, essayist, & reformer (1819 - 1900)
Yah...so with the awful lady....I turned into the arrogant prick that lies just below the surface.
I raced back to The Store to email her...after having multiplied our prices by 50%.
I also called ahead for Liz to pick some white sage and put it in the dehydrator. My plan was to lock myself in the homeless bathroom and burn it all up to rid myself of the demons I collected with this lady. (I had only CALLED Amanda about this lady, and she was defensively burning sage....and some other herb).
When I arrived at The Store....Joanie and Lyle were there. They grow tons of the coolest stuff we serve in their little garden: Casper eggplants, manzano chiles, padrones...mulberries.. They raise beef....super sexy odd-looking Scottish cows. Joanie and Lyle had brought me the first mulberries of the season from their awesome tree.
Hah...inspiration! I took a bunch of mulberries and smashed them all over my body.....
Exocising demons....Cachagua Style!
So much better than burning sage!