Sunday, December 8, 2013

When Asked to Step Out of your Comfort Zone - Do It!

Food – such a major part of our lives. We need food. We share food. We want food. All five senses are affected by food. We smell food. We taste food. We see food. We touch food and yes, we can hear food.

We certainly can be passionate about food. I sure am. My husband loves good food and he is very happy that I am a good cook. However, he really doesn't get too excited about it. Well, maybe apple pie and homemade ice cream but I even dream about food. Since my kids were very young I made it a policy to try one new recipe each week and we would vote on it as a family. It had to be 100% for it or it wouldn't fly.

I never really understood when people told me that they wished they were good cooks. My response was always the same, “Can you read?” If they said “Yes” then my immediate response would be “Then you can cook.”

My mother-in-law died at 95 last year and she motivated me to start a business selling desserts to restaurants. It was an incredible idea and became very successful.

I will never forget the first restaurant where I made my pitch. I went to the biggest restaurant in town and asked for the manager. I waited about ten minutes which gave me time to make some observations. I noticed the decadent desserts in the cooler and felt intimidated but told myself that looking beautiful had nothing to do with down-home taste. I hated plastic tasting desserts, and I had confidence my desserts would be winners.

The manager finally appeared. “Thank you for seeing me. I bake the greatest homemade desserts that would complement your menu. I would appreciate it if you would permit me to discuss them with you.” I handed him my menu.

Without even a glance at it he asked, “Can you make a  chocolate mousse cake?”

“Absolutely, I make one of the best!” I had no idea what a chocolate mousse cake was but did not want to miss this opportunity.

“Make me one and bring it in for me to try, then we’ll talk.” I left excited and terrified with no clue where to start. Mother, my greatest fan, was waiting for me at home. She was convinced I would sell them my entire menu.

I went to the library and looked up every  chocolate mousse cake recipe I could find. That weekend, I made 24 chocolate mousse cakes – all different yet very much the same. I didn't like any one of them. It seemed hopeless until I had a brainwave. I decided to make a cake that appealed to my taste instead of what I thought the restaurant would like. The fabulous result was creamy; and smooth as velvet.

Walking into the restaurant with cake in hand, I sauntered past the patrons as they ogled the cake and asked if it was on the menu.

“Is Mark busy? I have a cake to deliver.” I was led to the kitchen and set my prizewinner down. He stuck his finger in the cake.

“This is the best chocolate mousse cake I have ever tasted – whose recipe is it?”

“It's mine.” I said proudly. “And if you give me enough orders, I will make them exclusively for you.”

“Bring me three this week and ten for the weekend.”

I could hardly believe my ears. Just like that I was in business. As I was leaving he added, “Oh, and bring me a couple of your other creations as well. We'll try them on the menu this weekend.” He was willing to trust me with making this choice for him, yet he still had not looked at my menu.

My business took off faster than I could have ever dreamed. I averaged over 70 desserts weekly to this restaurant alone. I approached other restaurants and each one wanted my desserts. I featured different ones at each venue along with a signature creation that was theirs to advertise exclusively, like a strawberry margarita pie for the Mexican restaurant or a blitz torte for the German restaurant. I was in my element.

For New Year's Eve I was asked to make one Chocolate Mousse cake that would feed 1,000 people – a big job but so much fun.

Food. Gotta love it. Gotta have it.

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