The last 72 hours went by so fast, I felt it important this morning take it out of gear, set the parking brake, and reflect on what just happened. Here’s what I saw.
It began with the Lincoln Secret Supper’s Farm-Food-Fork event at the newly opened Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday. The average person read in the paper about some big fancy dinner, 250 guests experienced it first hand at the table set for them on the arena floor, but from my vantage point I got a completely different picture. I think I saw something more important.
I saw the beginning of a movement.
I got a chance to work alongside some very capable, talented chefs that day. These chefs are men and women that love their craft and are committed to bringing their form of cooking for the pleasure of the guests at their prospective professional kitchens on a daily basis. They are all people I’ve either known personally or at least familiar with their work. But once we all got together in one big arena kitchen, new things started happening.
We got to see each other’s work and taste the results. We were able to help each other execute the vision for each particular dish. At one point in the back of the house, I saw every chef in unison leaning over a series of plates a table, applying components, wiping plate rims and double checking for quality. No ego. No competition; just a huge effort of cooperation.
And why is this important?
Its’ important because in a city the size of Lincoln, the food culture here has opportunity to grow. And growth takes place best in an environment of abundance and not scarcity. Any gardener knows that plants thrive on plenty of sunlight and water, but in seasons when these elements are limited, the plants end up struggling. The same is true for the effort in putting food on the plate.
Last night was our final Market Meal of the 2013 season. We were all a little sad to see it go, but we pushed ourselves hard in the kitchen to do as best we could and go out with a bang. I was a little out of sorts due to an accident I had that morning, but our team stepped in to help make up for my limitations. It was a display of abundance, and even though I felt physically terrible, I felt tremendous pride for my team and how they worked together to make that last Market Meal a good one.
I’m very excited about our city’s future and the identity that is forming here. I’ve met so many creative people that come through my restaurant that tell me what they are up to. These entrepreneurs are putting their mark on business startups, technology research, local music of all genres, entertainment venues, as well as food creators opening up carts, trucks, catering services, and brand new restaurants for us all to enjoy.
I take this attitude because I see an abundance of opportunity, not a lack thereof. Let the ideas come forth. If they are good, they will thrive. If the idea is weak, then the customer doesn’t have to suffer it. I must take this view as an entrepreneur because I have no one to blame but myself if I fail. If my idea flops, either I didn’t put a quality product out there, or the market just simply wasn’t ready for it, and I didn’t recognize that.
I will lead our team in the opening of a new, original restaurant concept in a little over a month. I take a risk in doing so. I must accept this risk if the guest doesn’t respond to it. It’s not their fault if they don’t like the new menu. It’s only mine because I made bad food or didn’t know my guest’s preference well enough.
Karen and I moved to town 23 years ago with the thought of only staying here for 2-3 years. Now, two grown kids, a house, and business later, we still realize we aren’t going anywhere.
It’s a great time to live in Lincoln.