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Just Putting This Out There...

I need to ask you folks a favor or two.

Speaking specifically to my NuSkin Employee Guests...

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Can you help me out with something?

We have policies in place to try to protect you from inaccurate payroll deductions here in the restaurant.  One of those policies is that you have to show us your actual, physical, has-your-picture-on-it-and-everything badge in order to use payroll deduction for your food.  This protects you becase we can scan the bar code off the badge and make sure that the correct employee number is used for billing.  If someone has forgotten their badge, or left it in their car, or on their desk...even if we KNOW darn good and well that they're an employee...and they recite their number to us and get it wrong by one digit, there is no safeguard preventing someone else's payroll from being hit with the charge. 

On the one hand, the payroll deduction is a fantastic convenience.  On the other hand, it's kind of a pain in the neck.  'Cuz we have to be such sticklers about it.  Sorry.

We also need your badge as evidence that you're an actual employee to give you the 50% employee discount.  I know, I know, you've been with the company 25 years, OF COURSE you're an employee.  That's wonderful.  I know that and YOU know that, but my brand new cashiers who have only worked here three months DON'T know that.​  You wouldn't BELIEVE how many non-employee people we've had try to claim that they are employees, they just forgot their badge.  No bueno.  The employee discount is subsidized by NuSkin.  If we give out employee discounts to people who aren't NuSkin employees, we're costing the company money, which impacts the corporate bottom line.  And that, my friends, is NOT "Fast Speed".

The last thing I need your help with is this.  Please do not prop open the exit doors by the mail room.  There are a number of reasons for this.  General security of the building, an additional safeguard against flying insects coming in from outside, stuff like that. I'd really appreciate it and I KNOW the security deparment would appreciate it too!

So to sum up, please keep the doors closed and please keep your badge on your person.  I keep mine in my back right pocket.  I admit, on legging days I have to get creative, but that's a separate conversation entirely!  I have a few suggestions that might help you:

1.  Have your grandma crochet a chain of your favorite color yarn to loop through the hole on your badge and tie to your belt loop.  You could even have diffent colors to coordinate with different outfits!

2.  Duct Tape fixes EVERYTHING!  Available in a wide array of patterns and colors, you can truly make a statement when you use duct tape to affix your badge to your arm sleeve!

3.  In a real pinch, a stapler can be your friend!  (not advised for use on delicate or particularly expensive articles of clothing)

4.  Ladies, we all have hair ties lying around.  Make a slip loop through your badge then put it on your wrist.  Again, many colors available to allow you to express your individuality! 

5.  Get a "Badge Buddy".  Partner with your next-cubicle neighbor.  If either of you stand up from your chair, the other one says "Don't forget your badge!" to remind the stander to not forget their badge.  Think of fun and creative ways to remind each other...other languages, small signs in crayon, or post it notes placed stategically!

See? There are plenty of ways to help you keep your badge with you, which will help US do our job easier and more efficiently!  You guys are the best!  See you 'round the soda fountain!

Smoke and Fire

Hi There!  Long time, no talk to!  How you doin​'?  You're having a great summer?  I hope so!  I know I am!  Summer's awesome, isn't it?  It seems more relaxed, with just a really chill vibe, you know? Take camping, for example.  Your busy trying to pack everything, load it all into the car, it's a hard hike into the campsite (if you're married to my husband anyway), then you have to set everything up.  Let alone breaking it all down, bringing it all home and putting it all away!  But it's still chill.  It's still relaxed. 

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I'm not a huge fan of camping, mostly because the clean up seems to always fall to me (mom, right?), but I WILL say that I love, love LOVE cooking food over an open fire.  Can I get a hallelujah?  Or is it just me?  We went up canyon for our traditional holiday cookout for Pioneer Day.  Hot dogs over an open campfire.  It's pretty much the ONLY way to get me to eat a hot dog.  I love the blistery skin, the infusion of smokiness.  Mustard and relish and I am GOOD TO GO!  Well, actually, mustard and relish and a side of my mom's macaroni salad and I'm good to go (that stuff is seriously the bomb)!

But it's not just hot dogs.  Bacon and scrambled eggs (cooked in a little of the bacon drippings, of course) in a cast iron skillet over a wood fire, coffee in a percolator, biscuit sticks... Wait, what?  You've never had a biscuit stick?  where you take a stick and then you wrap refrigerator biscuit dough around in a spiral and roast it over the fire?  Then you peel it off the stick and dunk it in melted butter?  Whoa buddy, that's some good stuff right there!  Or how about the ubiquitous "hobo dinner" of meat, potatoes and veggies with butter and herbs in a foil packet tossed in the coals?  SOOOOO good!  There's just something about kicking back in a lawn chair with a cold beverage in one hand and food-on-a-stick in the other while the smoke swirls around scaring away the mosquitoes.  I picture a cave-woman some eons back who was tired of serving the same, old, raw mammoth for dinner thinking, "hey, I like the smell of the fire, I bet it would taste FANTASTIC on mammoth...I wonder if I put the mammoth on this stick and just hold it in here..."  and then Hubby comes home from a long day of being chased by a saber-tooth and says "Honey, this mammoth is the BEST you've ever made!  What'd you do to it?" as she leans smugly back on her haunches and says "oh, it's just a little thing I thought I'd try out...I'm glad you like it!  You're washing the sticks tonight!"

Of course. when we're all done roasting our hot dogs, or foil dinners, or mammoth it's time for dessert!  And is there anything better than a good old-fashioned Toasted Marshmallow?  In that particular situation, I think not.  Ok, I know that we elevate the toasted marshmallow by incorporating it into the S'more, but you couldn't even HAVE the S'more without the 'mallow, so I stand on my statement. The great part is, that if everyone has their own stick to toast their 'mallow, then everyone can have their 'mallow cooked to their liking.  I prefer mine fully melted with only a slight char on the corners.  My mother sets hers aflame, blows it out, peels off the outside and toasts the newly created exterior, repeating two or three times per 'mallow, thereby getting more toasty goodness out of each one.  Daughter likes hers still firm and barely golden on the outside.

The food is really only a part of the equation.  The fire, the smoke, the family and friends gathered to share a meal out in the beauty of nature...All these add up to a gustatory experience that is pretty much unattainable any where else.

I feel more relaxed just thinking about it.

 

Ch. Ch. Ch. CHANGES!!

​If you've been paying attention to the number of grey hairs sprouting out of my head in the last three months, you know that it's because The Spoon has been woefully short-staffed for the last six.  Like "How well do YOU function with only 60% man-power?" short-staffed.  Like "If there is mercy in Heaven, cloning will be available NEXT WEEK" short-staffed.  So it's been a liiiiiiiiitle interesting around here!

Well, Luck IS a lady and she brought me a couple of new peeps that I need to introduce you to.

First off, Kevin Miller!  Kevin came to us an an intern from Scenic View Academy.  He's been working in a prep-cook capacity since last November and his growth has been FANTASTIC!  When an opportunity came open for him to apply, he did, and he got the JOB!  Which is awesome!  You probably won't see him a bunch, since he works in the back, but he's a great guy and we love adding him "officially" to the team!

On the more visable side is Aloura Linfesty.  Newly (like, she had to delay her start date 'cuz she was going to be on her honeymoon) married, an award willing Skills USA and ProStart competitor, and also AWESOME, Aloura is working our lunchtime Saute/Broiler station and is rocking it right out of the gate!

Unfortunately, every silver lining has it's cloud.  Just as I bring on these GREAT folks, I get to loose one of The Spoon's original employees.  Kevin Birkett, our "morning shake guy" is leaving us to start an intensive coding program so he can go start doing what he's actually SUPPOSED to be doing, which is messing around with computers (the kid's brilliant!). 

If you have a chance to say "Hi" or "Bye" to these new crew members, I'd advise it!  They're great team members and wonderful people!

 

Food en Masse

I love what we do.

I really do. 

I particularly love all employee events like Force for Good Day and our recent Team Elite BBQ.  It's a nice change from the usual.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the usual, but even doing something that you love can get mundane when you do it every day.  So it's fun when HR hits me up to do an event for 1500 people.  I also love a challenge, and let's be honest, cooking for 1500 people with a kitchen crew of 6 people can be challenging.

Take the Team Elite BBQ for example...

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I was really excited when HR suggested pulled pork sandwiches.  "A nice change from burgers and dogs​", I thought.  "I make pretty dang good pulled pork", I thought.  Then I started crunching numbers.  Sidenote: To my Junior High math teachers who told me I'd be using all the geometry and algebra later in life so it was important to know it?  Baloney.  Ain't nobody needs no Pythagorean Theorem to math out PIG!!  But I digress...

Did you know that the yield (finished product) on a pork shoulder butt (the best cut IMO for pulled pork) is only 60%?  Which means you LOSE 40% of the starting weight in the cooking process??  Which means you have to cook MORE PIG to get to the numbers you actually need???  So here's our math:  1500 x 5 oz pulled pork = 468 lbs of FINISHED PORK, divided by .60 (yield) makes 780 lbs of raw pork shoulder butt needed to feed y'all!

I'm not gonna lie, I got a little faint when I started thinking through the logistics.  The cases of pork that we bring in are, on average, 72 lbs each, and they're roughly 36"x24"x18" each.  And I need 11 of them.  My fridge is NO WHERE NEAR big enough.  That's 1.  I have Oven Space to cook 9 butts at a time... I have 44 butts to cook.  That's  2, and oh, by the way, they have to cook for 7 hours so that's a total of 35 hours active cooking time, That's 2.5.  But I am BOUND AND DETERMINED to cook this pork so Da** the Torpedos! Full-Steam ahead!!  It takes 2 people 3 hours to shred pork for 300 people (discovered when we did the BYU function) 6 man hours x 5 is 30 man hours of shredding pork.  And That's 3.  I'm out.  I'm done.  There is no way that I can pull this off.  I am beaten.  After a little self-comfort in the form of a chocolate chip cookie and a milk chug, I resolved to look at my alternatives.  I can bring in pre-cooked and shredded pulled pork and then I can heat it up and sauce it myself, thereby creating the illusion (delusion) of cooking it from scratch.  That takes #3, #2.5, and #2 out of the equation...this is good, we're making progress.  But those pre-cooked pork cases are only 10 lbs each and I need 47 of them.  Ah!  Number 1 rears his ugly head and sticks his tongue out at me!  I will NOT be beaten by a lousy logistic, I am WAY too stubborn for that!  Hauling out my rolodex, I made a couple of phone calls et VOILA!  I have a refrigerated truck parked on the loading dock, loaded with meat and all the needed accoutrement!

After I spent the morning up to my elbows (metaphorically speaking of course) in saucy-piggy-goodness, I walked out to Karie on the back deck to check on set up.  She looked at the front of my chef coat and said "ya got a little something on ya there".  Covered, I was, in bbq sauce.  I sighed, walked away to change my chef coat, and made my self a sandwich.

I love days like that.  

These Peeps

So, some of you may have noticed that, lately, my car is in it's parking place early and it stays there, sadly unattended, until late.  Now we all know that I LOVE what I do.  I'm an adrenaline junkie, but I am WAY to aware of my own mortality to do any of the normal adrenaline junkie activities like tandem sky-diving with a shark or synchronized cobra twirling.  So I cook.  The sound of a printer spitting out an order chit creates a pavlovian-esque response in my brain and the fight or flight response immediately blossoms in my little heart!  Trust me, it's a BE-YOOtiful thing! 

But, let's be honest.  If you're here at 6:30 and you don't leave until 6:30 for multiple days in a row, there's only so much that passion for your work is gonna do for you.  Y'wanna know what gets me through?

These peeps.

 

I have got an amazing crew.  No, seriously, they are amazing!  Every last dang one of them!  You all only really get to interact with my "FOH" (Front of House) and they are phenomenal.  I honestly don't know how they stay so cheery and positive, all day every day, when they are running their wee little toesies right off!  One of these days, I'm putting step trackers on them so I can get a total number of steps in a day for them as a group.  It'd be LUDICROUS!!

Then there's my BOH...They're just...WOW!  Heat, stress, lifting, bending, stretching, more walking.  And they all have such great senses of humor and are so solid as a team.  I just could NOT ask for anything better.

Put the two teams together, headed up by two really, just phenomenal women, Karie and Christine, and you have a group that I would put up against any restaurant team in the state.  Are my cooks the most Culinarily Proficient?  Maybe not.  Are my hostesses and runners Fine Dining?  Maybe not.  But I will tell you what.  They have each other's backs. My cooks happily cook whatever the hostesses order, even if it IS completely off menu, because the hostesses will see that the cooks are about ready to die of heat exhaustion and offer to go get them ice water.  They like each other.  They get along.  They are a team.  Right down to the dishwashers.  That's not common in the restaurant industry, and it makes coming to work for 10, 12, 14 hours a WHOLE lot more pleasant!

Thanks, guys!  #spooncrewrocksitsideways

 

 ​

A New Phase...NOT!

Last night, Sunday night, I received a text from my daughter requesting permission for her and her brother to stay at their friend's house later than normal, since the out-of-town friends were going back home today.  "D and I can get our own dinner when we get home" she said. 

We have been, for the last 16+ years of my life, an "eat dinner together as a family" family.  We are now in a place where the boy has school, lacrosse, a social life and a job and the girl has school, the school musical, three different sports, church obligations and an insanely active social life (I was no where NEAR that popular when I was her age!).  I now have to accept that they may or may not be home for dinner.​  I have to say.  I don't like it.

Even on the nights when I am completely SHOT for the day and cooking is the last thing on my mind, I still cherish the time at the dinner table with my family.  We talk about our day, we talk about current events (a 16 year old's take on the current political climate can be tremendously interesting/entertaining), we talk about what everyone is involved in in the coming week, we just TALK.  And I LOVE it!  Of course I love watching my family enjoy something that I've prepared for them, you know that about me already, but I just love getting to know these fantastic young people a little bit better, particularly now as they develop their own insights and opinions on life.

So, hubby and I were on our own for dinner Sunday night.  I asked him what he was in the mood for and he said "don't start cooking, it's 7:00 at night" which was ludicrous, because we seldom eat before 8:00 pm anyway, which still give me an hour to get it on the table...MORE than enough time.  The tough part was cooking for two people.  That's when the rubber really hit the road!  Not only am I going to have to accept that the kids might not be home for dinner, but in the very near future, I'm going to have to start cooking for two instead of three-and-a-teenage-boy on a permanent basis!!

It was kinda funny, actually.  I decided to throw together a Minestrone Soup.  I carefully, and very conscientiously cut up 1/4 of a red onion, 1/4 of a yellow squash, 1/6 of a zucchini (big zucchini), 2 small cloves of garlic and 1/4 of a red bell pepper and sauteed them up in some olive oil.  Threw in a can of diced tomatoes, a can of chicken stock, a fistful of leftover pesto penne pasta and a can of drained and rinsed beans, let that simmer with a few herbs and a shot of nutritional yeast and POOF! Dinner for 2!  I haven't cooked dinner for 2 since we were DATING 18 years ago!  SO. STINKIN. WEIRD!!

We sat across the table from each other discussing the day, discussing current events, and talking about the upcoming week, but with half the usual contributors to the conversation, it went kinda quickly. 

We're gonna have to figure this out.

New Year, New Menu!

It's quiet in the kitchen...too quiet. (Spoken in my best "Guy Noir" detective voice)

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Of course it's quiet, don't be ridiculous!  It's Monday, January 2nd, 2017 and it is New Year's Day Observance so we're CLOSED.  Don't think for two minutes that means we haven't been busy.  Sure, we've been closed since Christmas.  But we've come in during that time for new menu training, new dish photography, deep cleaning, and kitchen re-set so we would be more-or-less ready (there's always a learning curve) to unveil our new menu for 2017.

There are 30 new items on this menu.  That's no small feat.  Categorically, nothing's changed, we still have breakfast, flatbreads, hot and cold sandwiches, yada yada yada.  But 30 new twists on those categories means new purchasing, new prep, new set up, new standardized recipes, the whole She-Bang!  I have effectively thrown my crew into a learning curve (see above) that pulls about 10g's!

Chef Alex and I have worked with the kitchen staff in developing the new menu and new recipes.  You've seen almost everything as a daily special over the last few weeks.  Based on the comments we received during that period, I think you're going to be happy with what we're rolling out.  That said, we recognize that some of your favorites will be going away and that won't make you happy.  We're sorry about that.  But remember that, if we still have the ingredients in house, we'll still be able to pull off whatever you're craving.  I just ask three things.  Number One: TRY the new menu out!  Really, wring it out.  I'm sure you'll find a new favorite in no time, there's some really great stuff here.  Number Two:  Give us a couple of weeks to get our legs under us before you hit us up with custom requests that lie outside the new menu.  Then the kid gloves can come off.  Number Three: Tell us your opinions of the new menu.  We value your thoughts immensely.  Try to keep it constructive though, please.  We are human over here, and we're doing our absolute best to provide you with a lunch (or breakfast or snack or whatever) that you can really sink your teeth into and enjoy.

I'm really excited about this.  WE are really excited about this!  New Year, new menu...This is gonna be fun!!

One Candle

Darling Daughter's Jr. High Choir concert was last night.

She's spent the last week preparing us for a truly horrific event, stating that the choir simply was NOT prepared to perform the lengthy and complex numbers that the director had selected for them.  Now, you and I have both sat through young choir, band, and ​orchestra concerts where the performers may-or-may-not have been physically or emotionally prepared for the event.  We've heard glass-cutting clarinet squeaks, pubescent voices that have a four-note range attempting full-octave note changes, and flat-out late entries by entire sections.  But we've sat through them with hearts full of hope and pride for the young ones who have worked SO HARD to prepare for the event.

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Darling Daughter led us astray.

This choir of 70 young voices (okay, sure, there were a couple of VERY minor "oops-es") NAILED IT!  They sang "In the Bleak Mid-Winter" a beautiful, but little known carol that Julie Andrews sang.  They also performed a rendition of "Jingle Bells" that wove in the music of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite...SO FUN!!  Their last number, however, was the killer.  It's called "One Candle".  Every Jr. High and High School Choir in recorded history has performed this number at some point.  It's a standard.  Here, you can listen to it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liUoQSeg4f8

They sang in the dark with each choir member holding a little electric tea-light candle.  The first voice lit her candle as she sang, the second voice lit his when he came in, and as the choir started singing they each lit their candles, one by one, in no particular pattern or order, until all these  sweet, angelic young people were illuminated by the soft glow of an electric flame.  It was incredibly quiet in the auditorium (which is saying something because it's actually the "cafetorium"...cafeteria used for other purposes) and they sang the lyric "Dona nobis nobis pacem" which is a traditional canon and it means "Grant us Peace". 

This was very dramatic for me.

Sitting there, watching my beautiful, not-at-all-a-baby-anymore girl sing this simple plea for Peace in a world that is anything but these days.  Yep, I'll own it, I cried.  I thought to myself how desperately we need the young people of today asking to be granted peace, both for themselves and for all of us.  'Tis the season for these types of thoughts, I suppose, and a little touchy-feely-psycho-babble-ish, but what if it were a statement that everyone uttered, every day, for a week?  What if that powerful request were made by every man, woman and child for a month?  For the whole of 2017?  I have to think that we could collectively create some pretty impressive change in our world with that simple act.

I'm going to try it for myself.  Just to see what happens. 

I wish you Peace in this season of holidays and remembrances, and for all of 2017 as well!

 

The Spoon

75 West Center

Provo, UT, 84660

Phone: 801-345-2110

Fax: 801-345-2596

E-mail

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