Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away

Sometimes in business you can plan every detail and have it washed away by things not under your control, like a rainy Tuesday morning. Today is the debut of our lunch menu (see www.littlebuddybiscuitcompany.com for menu) and I am both nervous and excited at the same time. We prepared a beautiful blackboard with our menu on it yesterday but of course the rain is preventing us from putting it outside. Tuesday's can be a tad slow to begin with and I'm hoping the rain doesn't scare away the rushing commuters and parents dropping off their kids at school. Maybe I'll stand outside and encourage people to come on in (not). I kind of feel like I did when I was in bands and getting ready to perform on stage. I hope we get a packed house today.

As a chef that is comfortable in both savory cooking and baking as well (not that common) I am happy to see more savory options for our customers that they can bring to work or home as a meal. Last weekend we did great with our lunch specials, potato caramelized onion and gruyere galettes (free form pies), whole wheat personal size pizzas with roasted portobello mushrooms, pesto and smoked mozzarella, zucchini and provolone frittata and Daddy Mac (mac n cheese). This week I hope the response will be equally as good for the sandwich and soup choices. We are also featuring Balthazar's bread and croissants for sale and they look great in the showcase. We've had lot's of requests for bread and Balthazar is one of the best artisan bread makers in NYC.

Anyway I am happy with the way we are continously growing and diversefying our menu and making it fun for customers to come in each day to see what is new. We've made our dessert menu full of delicious choices and now strive to do the same with savory.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sometimes Cold Pineapple Cake Should Be Good Enough

When it comes to the bakery I have the tendency to be a perfectionist. I literally want everything we make to be fantastic, an experience of pure pleasure mind you. But this business will teach you that sometimes the reality is good should be good enough.

Last week we had a special request for our pineapple upside down cake the raspberries and pecans for Sunday. I made an extra one for the store to sell and one for the customer. When it was getting late I asked my employee to call and as it turns out the order was for the following Sunday. So now we have an extra cake, one that tastes best the first couple of days after it's made.

I like to make good out of mistakes like this so I offered the cake to Jack's old school PS 295. They were having a pta meeting the next day and were happy to have a cake with their breakfast. The school is just a bit more than a block away so the families and teachers that go there are certainly potential customers so this was a good chance to do some outreach for the business too. We are starting lunches next week so Ruth, the pta president invited me to speak about Little Buddy before the meeting and bring menus for the parents to take.

In my haste to get the bakery open and be at the school by 8:30 am I forgot to take the cake out of the refrigerator to get it to room temperature. For most people it was probably no big deal but I was thinking most of the morning how it would have tasted better if it had been not so cold. I hope that all the obsessing I do over my baked goods translates to great product because from a mental health point of view it's probably not such a good idea.

Luckily many customers have noticed the quality and have been very complimentary of our baked goods, so I guess being a perfectionist can pay off. It's a great feeling when someone comes to the store and sends an email later that day or the next day to say how much they enjoyed their treat land that happened twice today. It makes it feel like the hard work we do is worth it and that we are already enjoying success.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Daddy Mac Arrives, Lunch to Follow

If you have read past blogs you will remember that Jack, aka Little Buddy himself, was craving my own Daddy Mac (gooey cheesy mac n cheese). Well I thought it would make sense as I was planning our soon to be lunch menu to add Daddy Mac as a special at the very least. Yesterday was the debut and we nearly sold out the first day. Needless to say it will come back again soon and I got to take home some for Jack, Jill and myself to enjoy (win win situation).

We are kicking off lunch at Little Buddy starting on Tuesday, October 27. We will be buying bread and croissants from Balthazaar to sell retail and using the bread to make sandwiches. I am posting the proposed menu below, which will include soups from City Chef and sandwiches we make. On weekends we will have specials like chili and corn bread, personal gourmet pizzas, savory galettes and more. The menu below will be posted on the Little Buddy web site shortly as will our new menu of baked goods.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Lately people have been asking me if I'm having fun at the bakery. It's kind of a funny question. On one hand I am really proud of the bakery and I'm doing what I'm passionate about. But after over 3 months without a day off and working 90 hour weeks (without pay I should add) it's kind of hard to say it's fun. I can't begin to tell you all the stressful situations I've had to deal with building up to signing the lease for the store, the renovation and the first few months of operation.

I will say that I feel lucky that my staff really hung in there during the chaotic, somewhat unorganized first 2 months of business. We had to come together as a group and figure a lot of stuff out together. So far all my employees just kind of happened, no ads on Craig's list they just kind of showed up when I needed them. They all bring different talents and knowledge to the store and I am fortunate to have a really great group of people that I feel that I can trust and learn from. It was one of my biggest concerns going into this that I can have great ideas and be a good chef but if I don't have good support in sales and kitchen help it's for nothing. But luckily that is not the case. The teamwork that has grown organically is really cool.

So you know what maybe I can say I am having fun now. My ideas are starting to be realized and we are kicking out some great new baked goods. My concept of big cookies and small cakes are finally happening the way I envisioned. You should know by now that I already had a great line of cookies developed. Now I have a line of individual size cakes that are awesome: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pecans, Devil's Food Cake with Espresso Butter Cream Filling and Ganache, Lemon Cloud Cakes with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Raspberry Preserves, Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jelly Cakes, Cinnamon Cake with Chocolate Chile Buttercream, Chocolate Butter Bundts with Ganache and Whipped Cream. Our specials are popular enough to become regular fare (um, crumb buns, brioche baked with almond cream, spanish omelettes, and this weekend gallettes with potatoes, gruyere and caramelized onions). And biscuits, don't forget the biscuits. A new biscuit will debut tomorrow, scallion cream cheese with poppy seeds. Next on deck in a few weeks will be a regular lunch menu with soup, sandwiches, and Balthazaar's breads. The news ideas being implemented recently makes me happy.

What also makes me happy is I've been able to find pockets of time to spend with Jill and Jack. I've been able to "leave early" (8 hour days are starting to feel like half days) to go to a movie, street festival or other fun things. Today I left at 3:00 pm to go food shopping. A full fridge at home makes me feel content. We even have plans for an overnight stay upstate this weekend so we can go pumpkin picking and fall foliage viewing, maybe a picnic at Storm King (great sculpture park), and a stop at my favorite old time fast food joint in Brewster "The Red Rooster" for a real no frills burger, fries and coffee shake. Ah, life is good.