It's just a few days shy of tax day and its all systems go at The Pantry. We have been very busy and the thought that the coming of Whole Foods Market coming to Town last summer would hurt us is just a smoldering candle in our history. Good news for us, and good news for other small business owners out there as well. It just proves that customers still look for that small town vibe that a large chain just cannot muster. Yes, there are many big business efficiencies that I personally, like the idea of; however it often ends there. It only stands to reason that the finest restaurants and food venues in the world are mostly owned privately and the backbone and personalities behind them are talented and dedicated food professionals and not corporate bean counters looking to shave pennies anywhere possible without considering quality or integrity of the final product. This is not to say I don't constantly monitor and attempt to save money - I do every minute of the day. It's actually imperative in the food business since competition is strong and plentiful. I am happy to say that we have upheld our initial intent and strong commitment to quality since day one, and have done so by offering a consistent product mix, high quality raw ingredients and fair prices.
It takes a lot to run our kind of store and it's certainly not a one-person operation, we have a great team of people & most everyone brings unique characteristics to the overall store. I like to think we are the best, but there are so many really great people cooking or making desserts or making food out there in Fairfield County, it just wouldn't be a fair statement. I had a former employee ask me something today that got me thinking... She called me a rock star chef, which I would never say about any chef, I like to think I'm a good chef - but rock stars play guitars, are skinny to a fault & have agents that promote them.
She asked me if I still mess up a recipe! To which I replied; of course - cooking and baking is something that involves too many nuances to even begin to list them. Two chefs, exact same everything and two different finished plates. There is finesse, taste, timing, temperature of environs and ingredients, technique & so much more involved. Many people reflect upon experiences out in restaurants (and in my shop) where they had something great one time and just ok another. We always try to do the right thing, I mean after all who wouldn't?? Does anyone really go to his or her job intending to do horrible work? Sometimes I give food away to the crew or the food shelter not because it's spoiled, but because it's not good enough to meet our standards. I'm proud of that fact, and yes it can add up to many thousands of dollars over the course of a year, but I like to feel that our clientele can count on us for more then just good food. I like to think when people come to The Pantry they receive a product that is unmatched. So, yes we make mistakes, we are all human, and I try to limit them, but it happens.
A good friend of mine who spent a number of years cooking in Japan introduced me to the concept that every time the Japanese worker performs a task, that they try to improve on their previous attempt. I really thought that this is truly a good idea, so I try to follow that same logic myself. I'm not one to go around patting myself on the back (just ask anyone who works for me how often I sing their praises)...and to which I am at fault for not doing so more often for it is with all of the team's participation at The Pantry that we have such a successful business.. So I will, as I always do, push forward and try to do the best food I can, while maintaining accessability to a wide spectrum of people, because I have always felt that good food is meant to be enjoyed by everyone no matter paid to your current economics.