22 June 2013

Fancy Dinner & Notable People

In one night, I met a person from Consumer Reports (regarding food), a sustainable dairy farmer (Ronnybrook Farm), a chef (who incidentally has been on the Food Network), and a bunch of other really successful people in the food industry. By "successful", I mean that they've accomplished things. They've changed the world. Not through pipetting in a lab or trading shares, but through following a vision and a passion. It makes me wonder whether I'm as passionate about anything.

Super appetizers with carbonated punch. Again, everything was really classy and I was the awkward rock that prevents the wagon from smoothly sailing (heh, worst metaphor within a 1 mile radius). First, I had issues figuring out what to wear. As I wanted to travel minimalistically, I brought 3 fancy outfits, 1 T-shirt, and shorts, for 3 days. It turns out that for fancy events, people change into eveningwear, especially after walking around in business casual on a farm earlier in the day. Oops?
And then I had issues getting out of my chair without triggering everyone's Awkward-Alert!-radar.
Ensuite, I took pictures of my food, which might be socially frowned-upon.
然后,I asked for an autograph.

Dinner was self-service with steak on bread, salmon, bread, quinoa, and beets.

Dessert was a cake from the Culinary Institute of America. Apparently, the red stuff is actually ribbon, even though the tour guide told us that for the cake decorating class, everything had to be edible. One of the layers was chocolate, while the other was plain cake with dulce de leche tiramisu(?) filling. I somehow ended up with 1.5 slices of cake, which was a bit too much but I ended up eating it all anyway, since it was really tasty.

There was also some apple tart which was good, and brownies.
Ronnybrook Farm supplied 10 pints of ice cream, which was delicious.

A lot of socializing went on, and I learned a lot about milk (but no sources). Ronnybrook Farm cows are not considered "organic" because they are fed antibiotics only when they're sick. Apparently, Horizon and other organic farms have to kill any sick cows because they aren't allowed to give cows antibiotics, lest they lose the "Organic" label from the USDA. I already read previously that the label itself is difficult and expensive to purchase, meaning that organic farmers don't bother with the label. Also, apparently Ronnybrook Farm cows live to about 15 years, and after they're done with milk production, they're allowed to retire and graze the grass until they die. Horizon cows ostensibly only live 3.5 years. Ronnybrook Farm prides itself in owning about 200 cows who they all know by name. They also haven't bought a cow in 40 years.

I'm taking all this with a chunk of salt though, because it's honestly difficult to buy good milk in so many circumstances (income, convenience, posession of car or bus pass, large scale/schools), and it's also difficult to know for sure what companies are doing.

We also had a presentation about restaurant ownership. The thesis was that the goal is to exceed customer's expectations, and to definitively change how the customer feels about the establishment when he/she walks out. I definitely don't think I've managed that consistently with the cafe I work at. It's actually also applicable to social interactions. If you haven't made a significant positive impression on someone, whether it be in an interview, a date, or performance...well, how much did you care about the relationship with the other party?
It's something to mull over.

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