Suisun Valley Farm's Mangalitsa Pigs
I've got Thomas Keller on the brain tonight, for a few reasons:
1) Per Se is buying Mangalitsa hams from Johnston County Hams. Month ago, I sold the fresh hams to Johnston County Hams. They paid a small fortune for those hams. Rufus Brown cured them into their current form. Now Rufus is selling them to the best restaurants in the USA.
2) Per Se's sister restaurant, The French Laundry, is buying five ridiculously fat (approx. 285# carcass) Mangalitsa pigs from Suisun Valley Farm. I bred those pigs and sold them to Suisun Valley Farm. My first Mangalitsa pig that I killed went to The French Laundry. Several years later, they keep buying Mangalitsa pigs. Despite them being ridiculously ugly and fat, they keep buying them - because they taste the best.
3) Per Se regularly buys our Mangalitsa loins from DeBragga.
Basically, Keller's staff loves Mangalitsa pork. The fact that they buy all this stuff tells everyone that Mangalitsa pork and Mangalitsa hams (from Johnston County Hams) are the best. Why do people think that?
Because of things like this article on Thomas Keller. There were a few parts that had special meaning for me:
He weighed out and smelled Australian winter truffles the size of softballs, each worth approximately $1,100. "You see how this smells a little off?" he asked me, holding one up to my nose. I didn't. "I'm going to send it back."Ouch! What are those guys going to do when the truffles come back in? Is an imperfect truffle worth even a few hundred bucks? Someone is about to lose their shirt.
Heath Putnam Farms (aka "Wooly Pigs") produces great stuff. But sometimes, for one reason or another, the stuff isn't as good as it should be. When someone working for Keller or Paul Liebrandt sends something back, you pay attention. You give them a credit. You apologize for wasting their time - and you try to make sure it never happens again.
What I've learned:
1) As much as possible, avoid mistakes. Part of always being the best is avoiding unnecessary mistakes.
2) As long as you make the very best, you are in a strong position, because there's always some people who want the best, and have the money to pay for it. As soon as you aren't the very best, it isn't any fun.
3) Develop markets for the less-than-perfect stuff. Prepare yourself for the pain of discounting the stuff to clear it out. As you are selling it off and feeling the pain, figure out how to avoid ever being in that situation ever again.
Here's another quote from the article: