I started to cook as much as I could and I was cooking pretty much everything. I cooked at every party and every holiday. I came up with an awesome chili recipe and even entered professional chili competitions. The best I got was 5th out of 80 people and was able to beat 4 former world record holders. We really had a blast doing those. I was a cooking feign back then watching every cooking show I could, reading every magazine and book I could. I was dry aging my Prime Rib for the holidays and yes I made my Aunts homemade pasta on Christmas.
Though we are not winter fans we did look forward to her soups. Bringing turkeys for Thanksgiving and cooking a zillion pounds of food for all of our backyard parties all the while creating recipes some good and some…well.... not so good.
We loved seafood so I came up with a dynamite fried shrimp and cod recipe. Lobster stuffed Raviolis with a homemade vodka sauce and yes the quality of the vodka does matter. But the food I really liked cooking was BBQ. I guess I found it cathartic, the smoke the fire the excellent taste it left in my mouth. Not just any BBQ though I wanted the recipes to be homemade and I wanted them to be the best no short cuts anywhere. I wanted to make food no one could get anywhere else. So I started developing recipes one by one until I got a menu I liked.
We actually have a video on Facebook of the very first pork butt that came out the way I wanted it to. I can’t even begin add up the time and the money I spent on BBQ but it was well worth it. I had wanted my own place for years but didn’t have the balls to make it happen, besides I was working, making pretty good money and had benefits so it was hard to quit. Not that I liked working there but after working there most of my life it was what I knew. Gina was always saying we should open our own place let’s just do it. I on the other hand found it hard to believe that enough people would like my food enough to make a living.
Anyway about 11 years ago we grew tired of living in Waterbury so we had moved to Torrington and Zach started to work at the Shops in Canton. I was walking around one night while waiting for Zach to finish his shift and saw they had a Sur La Table there they sell kitchen equipment and had cooking classes. They were hiring seasonal help and were giving a generous discount for employees, so I applied half expecting to be laughed out of the store but I wasn’t and before long I was a part time employee.
This was the one defining moment in my life that would make my decision about starting this business an easy one…..though I didn’t know it yet. One of those life’s funny moments when I look back at this time in my life. I am not going to say I was the best there but I did ok and Michelle the manger really did put up with a lot I have to say. I even punched her in the face, by accident of course, but none the less it happened and not one of my finer moments.
So here I was a foul mouth jokester that would say and do pretty much anything and I was in sales. Just like I didn’t fit in the corporate world I don’t think Sur La Table was ready for me but hey they hired me right? LOL I worked the floor for a while but when they needed help with teaching people how to cook I was more than happy to help. I saw that teaching was not that easy but it was fun.
All sorts of people took the classes those who couldn’t boil water to experts and everyone in between, interesting dynamic. I got to teach a class on how to make Raviolis, my Aunts 3 meat ravioli one of them. I met the best people there and they taught me even more about cooking. It was also about this time where my culinary skills started to take on a more serious tone and I was soon making some of the best food I have ever cooked. But something more came out of working at Sur La Table.
I started to actually build up the confidence to maybe just maybe….that’s crazy it will never work I thought to myself. Still not ready to take the leap but the seed had been planted at Sur La Table. Funny how things play out in life even funnier is the impact people have in your life and they have no idea about it. That was certainly how I feel about the group at SLT. I agonized over leaving there but I had to move onto my next chapter in life. The best was yet to come.
Next up the big leap…..
Do we start a BBQ catering / vending business?
Better yet do we do it in CT?
Are were crazy enough…..