Friday, December 30, 2011


recently, i worked FOH for a friend at an event....that interestingly enough...wasn't for hapa. after the event, sus sent me a text message about how a friend of a friend mentioned to her how "charming" i was with that smile of mine at the event. i remember, quite frankly, that when that text message came in...i choked in disbelief....wheezed a little bit...and then started laughing.

there is always a first for everything.

there are many descriptors that have been used to describe me throughout the years....the most common descriptors being smart, analytical, robotic, scarily efficient, stubborn, independent, ummmm...intimidating....and well, cranky......and well....hmmm.....kind of an asshole.

charming, is not usually among the list.

like ever.

ever ever.

after i was done choking, wheezing, and laughing, i took a moment and thought about it (hello! analytical!).

i suppose it made sense.

i suppose it made sense because it is really all about context.

when i love you, believe in you, and want to support you....then things are quite different. i'm not an asshole. when people see me in that context, then i suppose i smile a lot....i laugh a lot....and i don't even realize that i'm doing it. it is me....just being me....being that moment.

i remember when i was working FOH for an event where CK was selling some of her holiday sweets. i've been eating CK's food for a long time and have always been an advocate for her food. here are some of the pics of her holiday sweets that i took earlier including a shot of her candy cane marshmallows that i've been having with my hot chocolate........

doesn't that look just tantalizingly and sexy? sigh.

my love and excitement for her food is sincere and i have a feeling that folks probably picked up on that. it wasn't manufactured. i was representing someone that i believe in. when i think about the folks that tried CK's food for the first time that day....i find that i'm smiling a wicked smile right now...just thinking about it. i remember intently watching the faces of people before and after they tasted her food for the first time. i remember thinking "you have no idea just how delicious what you are about to eat is going to be" right before they tasted a sample....and then feeling quite wickedly gleeful when i watched their faces transform into a blend of utter surprise and pleasure.....and oftentimes there was with an "OMG" or "holy shit" thrown in there.

in my head, when i would see their pleasure at eating CK's food, i thought "gotcha!!!!"

hee hee.

sometimes, the proof really is on the plate and that is all you need.

speaking of proof on the plate....or both plate and bowl actually.... there is also the helping out that i do at hapa.

helping out at hapa is on a completely different level....especially in terms of scale. as a well known presence within san francisco, hapa has their legion of passionate fans that often make special scheduling arrangements to ensure that they are able to eat hapa's food. good food, made with good ingredients, and made with good intentions. these fans have high expectations for hapa's food and they know exactly what they want. when i help out with hapa, i am keenly aware of the well as every member of the hapa team that works very hard to bring their "A" game to ensure that the fans are not let down.

it makes for a very intense service.

there are so many fans. i am naturally a very curmudgeonly anti-social uncharming type of person who doesn't suffer fools....and who, quite frankly, shouldn't be around people on a regular ongoing basis.

on the surface, it doesn't make logical sense that these two components could peacefully co-exist.

yet, when i am in the hapa stand, i am there because i believe in richie's vision for the food. i know exactly where the food comes from. i know where the ingredients are sourced....because oftentimes those very farmers come to the stand to eat.
i know who makes the food that respects the ingredients from these farmers. i know many, within the extended hapa family, that decide to contribute time, support, and resources because they believe in what hapa is doing.

i know that i'm a cranky person. yet, i also know that my belief in representing who and what i love....trumps all crankiness. this happens when i'm working with hapa, working other events, or even just being really excited about a particular dish from folks in the bay area and beyond. also, paradoxically enough, when i put aside my typical cranky ass personality and focus on providing a friendly experience that underscores and respects the is actually sincere. i don't do this because i have to. i do this because i want to. i don't do this because have expectations of some sort of return. for me, this isn't a P&L statement. it isn't business. it is personal. it is because i personally want them to succeed.

while not having any expectations of a return, sometimes, there are startling unexpected moments that leave me stupefied....but in a good way.

for example.....despite hapa being at the ferry building on tuesdays and thursdays for over a year now...there are still many folks that are newbies to the food of hapa. it is usually quite gratifying to hear when someone has had the food for the first time and enjoyed it. just hearing that makes me feel this encroaching sort of know....kind of like the warm that invades the grinch. yet, there are times when the newbies take their enjoyment to heights that amaze an incredibly cynical person like me. recently, when i was working a service....a client who had only had the food twice decided to buy us mittens....because they thought we looked cold.

think about that for a second.

this was a stranger. this was only their second time eating hapa's food. they loved the food. their love of the food put them in such an incredible good mood. they saw that we were cold. they decided to buy us mittens.

a random act of kindness from a stranger born from enjoyment of a lovely meal.

i know that the client was almost in a disbelief that they were doing this...and was almost sheepish really....but we were pretty thrilled. we also knew that there wasn't any expectation of "return" because they had already paid and such well before they decided to give the mittens to us.

i was pretty amazed and touched by the unexpected kindness and generosity of the gesture.

i still am actually.

while i enjoy being immersed in technology for "my real" job....the pace...the stimulation.....the intellectual puzzles.....and more...., there is something about the everyday human connections, care, and sense of community that occur between strangers around food that is supremely unique.

it isn't about logic, analytics, adoption levels, metrics, scales, or p&l statements.

or it isn't for me.

when i started on this journey a few years ago, i had no idea that i would be doing what i am doing now. none. all i really knew was that i began the journey with a very simple premise....represent what you love.

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