Saturday, December 11, 2010

Farewell to Mangalitsa Chef

Bryce Lamb's Mangalitsa Waffles

Mangalitsa Chef Bryce Lamb came by the U-District Farmers' Market today to say goodbye.

He'll be moving to Rochester, MN to be executive chef at Sonte's.

In general, it hasn't been possible for him to find executive chef work around here. He was working as an executive chef, but the place got sold, and the new owner decided he'd be chef/owner, so Bryce got laid off.

He looked for an executive chef position in the Seattle area, but couldn't find anything - for a year and a half. In that time, he's been doing consulting work outside the Puget Sound area. E.g. if a resort has a restaurant that is flailing, they'll bring him in to fix it. They have no choice: a resort needs to be able to do banquets successfully (or it will hurt their hotel bookings), so it pays to bring in talented chefs like Bryce to fix things.

I find it unfortunate that he can't find exec chef work around here, but in many ways it makes sense: compared to cities like New York, Chicago and Las Vegas, there aren't many rich foodies dropping lots of money on food, which is what it takes to employ people like Bryce.

Based on Mangalitsa sales, I have a sense of where chefs like Bryce can work. In a nutshell:

1) New York - there's lots of high-end places serving business clientele
2) Casinos/Resorts/Country Clubs
5) other areas that draw in people with money

New York has lots of fine dining, because lots of business gets transacted in New York. If you are doing a multi-million dollar deal, it pays to eat out a restaurant that serves the best stuff.*

People who have lots of money travel to places like Las Vegas, Aspen, Pebble Beach and country clubs.** When they visit those places, they eat out, and they eat well.

The place where he'll be going, Rochester, is the home of the Mayo Clinic. Many wealthy people go there for medical care, allowing a restaurant like Sonte's to sustain itself.

I found out he served a few Mangalitsa courses at his interview. He used some cured shoulder from Johnston County Hams. He made his Mangalitsa belly waffles. He might have used some lardo. He probably used more (e.g. neck) - but the ones I listed were what stood out. I'm glad that going into an important job interview, he felt confident serving our stuff (and that of Johnston County Hams).

Bryce and I talked about how we'll supply him with product. By smart purchasing, he can probably cut his costs in half compared to the people who order small amounts, delivered via FedEx, on a weekly basis. Most chefs aren't willing to do what it takes to save this sort of money - namely, buy a lot at once.

I'm hoping that Bryce can help us figure out how a chef can use our various products to make money. Bryce is particularly willing to experiment. In return, we'll help him to control his food costs.

* DeBragga & Spitler distributes our Mangalitsa to those New York customers.

** A lot of those guys order from Foods in Season.

1 comment:

Jennifer S said...

As someone who lives near Rochester, MN, I am excited to hear that Bryce is coming to my area, and that I will likely get to taste some of this Mangalitsa in the near future.

Thanks for letting us all know!

-Jennifer in MN