Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Recipe Outgrew the Apron. Reflections from the Past 5 Years.

Our first recipe book.

When I launched Little Pots & Pans Co. 5 years ago, I started small, dipping our toes into the product development side of the grocery business. Testing out assumptions I had made about tart product varieties and pricing, and watching our (then clients their customers reactions to us.

I began working by myself in a rented kitchen at night. (Insert your Jewish yenta/Italian grandmother here – oye! It was dark! oye! It was a lot of work! oye! You never called/wrote/came to visit!) But then one day I realized perhaps I could afford a little help. Someone to come in and help with production, making the nights smoother and less lonely.

Prior to beginning to sell our tarts, much of my recipe development took place between my home kitchen and the commercial kitchen I was renting. At home, I have one taste-tester, in the kitchen there were at least 4-5 other companies working at any time that I could call upon to proffer input. (Don’t get me started on the um, challenges of trying to work in an over crowded kitchen with everyone clamoring to use the same equipment for their production and still only put in a 7 hour night).

Both were a big help in finalizing our original set of recipes, but as it still just me working, my notes were sort of my own. Some modifications got written down, some didn’t, I knew what each one was, and how each filling should taste. It wasn’t much different than holding up your grandmother’s apron and reverse engineering her recipe for brownies (or red sauce) from it.

The first person I ever had help out in the kitchen, showed up on the first night, ready to go. I pointed her to where the knives and a cutting board were and what she would be making. Her first question… “Is there a recipe for this somewhere?”

I still have a penchant for jotting recipes down on paper, with notes and revisions (some things get typed, some don’t). But I do keep some plastic shelves around to drop them into so at least their staying power has a fighting chance while I fight for time to properly type them up. 

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