Quick Audition Update

February 20, 2009

I’ve been surprised at how many people have asked me about the audition I had in Toronto a couple of weeks ago.  I had actually resigned myself to not getting the part so I was surprised when others asked about the results.  Sorry for not sharing sooner.  Unfortunately I didn’t get the part.  They responded about a week ago with a pleasant email.  It was a learning experience and I had a nice relaxing couple of days visiting with friends.  As for the idea of doing a cooking show I might have something in the works in the near future.  I will of course be letting everyone know if and when my ideas come to fruition.    So, for the time being at least, you won’t be seeing my mug on the tube any time soon.

Going GREEN! Good for Business, good for the Community and good for the Soul

February 18, 2009

recycling1Going green has become one of the more popular movements as of late. Its a catch phrase used by so many for so many different things. Environmentalists have been screaming from the rooftops for years but it has only become a major priority in the mainstream population in the last couple of years. Political policies seem to define the movement but individual acts are what truly have made the biggest impact to date. That is why I have decided to create a detailed and comprehensive green policy for our company. The hospitality sector has many opportunities to improve. There are a tremendous amount of challenges that face an operator. Balancing your own personal desires and goals with the economic realities can be tricky. What needs to happen is a joint effort on everybody’s part to contribute. We as operators should start moving towards change and ask our customers to do so as well. Granted, that sounds easier than it really is but we need to start somewhere. By creating a policy and strategy we can try and set goals and time lines for our goals. Change won’t happen overnight but it can and will happen if people want it to happen. A perfect illustration of this is what CBC’s The Hour achieved with their One Million Acts of Green initiative. I am a firm believer that incorporating policies in our economic plan is the only way to sustain the efforts long term. Obviously I believe that any change made on a personal level and done in our everyday lives is a step in the right direction but when companies adopt changes than steps turn into strides. We already do the basics at BKB. We recycle, we have reduced waste to phenomenal levels and try to conserve energy at every turn. That’s simply not enough. I recently visited friends in Guelph and was amazed to see that many if not most of the local restaurants have moved away from using traditional take out containers. That is probably my biggest challenge. How do we balance the economic reality with the needs of the customers all the while trying to reduce our environmental impact? This is where I need help. From customers, other restaurant owners, and suppliers. If more and more restaurants only offered take out in reusable containers that the customer provided than it would become the norm. Sometimes we can look to the larger corporations for leadership in these scenarios. Starbucks, for example, offers a discount for customers who provide their own coffee mug as an alternative to using a paper cup. Its a lot easier for a large corporation to implement strategies like that but we need to ride the new popularity of the green movement and use it to our advantage. Basically its cool to be green so why not move to be more green. Maybe I can elicit the help of other restaurant owners and start a larger initiative and get more people aware of our efforts as well as getting customers to be willing participants. How can we achieve all this? One step at a time. I will keep you posted on our efforts and hopefully recruit many of you to help by participating in our Project Green. As well I will be trying to get more and more input from other restaurants as well as suppliers who may want to participate and help turn their own operations greener. If this grows large enough they may be swayed by the amount of publicity something like this may garner. Some areas or ideas that I want to look into are the following…..

– minimizing take out containers and asking customers to bring in their own containers

– charging a surcharge for take out containers and using the extra revenue to buy more expensive biodegradable containers

– separating all food refuse and collecting it for local gardening groups for use as compost

– creating larger buying groups of restaurants to help reduce the extra cost of better take out containers

– making decisions on food choices and suppliers based on local availability therefore reducing the necessity for transport

– using earth friendly cleaning products (already 1/2 way there)

These are simply a few ideas that I have come up with but I am asking that anyone with any suggestions please comment here and hopefully we can use this medium to help initiate our very own community driven One Million Acts of Green. I will have regular postings updating our progress as well as constant pleas for input and help. After all, I can only incorporate ideas that you, the customer, see as reasonable.

Great Catering Options Offered at BKB

February 11, 2009

Since we opened our doors in June of last year we have been trying hard to expand our offerings in every sense of the word.  We have expanded to offer breakfast, lunch and now dinner.  We offer a full coffee bar menu, full menu of organic teas, and organic smoothies as well.  Our liquor license has arrived and we now offer wine, beer, and mixed drinks.  In fact there isn’t much we don’t offer.

What we’ve been working on recently is a lunch delivery system.  There have been many snags to doing exactly what we originally wanted but we have finally developed a system that works well and we are very excited about.  The system is simple.  We offer a special delivery package that includes choice of sandwich, choice of soup, house salad, and bottle of water all for an inclusive price of $10.  That includes delivery and all applicable taxes.  This is a perfect choice for staffs and offices where each person wants something unique and individually suited for them.  We also can cater with many other options.  We have catered events as large as 800 people.  We can sit down and discuss any specific ideas or requests.  Our goal is to get offices or staffs to have a regular delivery day so that they know that every Monday, for example, is BKB day.  They simply fill out the small order form (soon to be available online) and either call it in or fax it in.  We can also arrange to pick it up from the office at a set time.  We would need roughly 12 or so people to make it viable.

If you or anyone you know might be interested in something like please contact me at BKB anytime.  Leave a message here or email us at blackkettlebistro@gmail.com.

This is just another way that we are trying to meet and exceed the needs of our clients.  We are constantly trying to improve upon our original ideas and have taken much time to consult with our friends, and customers alike to see where we can improve and expand.  This is one concept that we feel will be very popular.  It has already had many rave reviews by teaching staffs throughout the city.  We hope many of you will find the value in it and contact us for more details.

Ressurecting the old notion of Family Restaurant

February 9, 2009

Its been sometime since Charlie, my youngest son (4) has been operating a restaurant out of his toy kitchen in our apartment.  It’s a small place, no employees.  He cooks, serves and does all the promo himself.  There have been times where i bust out laughing because of the exchanges we have as he pretends to run his restaurant.  For example…..he approaches me and asks what i want to eat.  I ask for a menu.  He says his restaurant doesn’t have any.  He then lists the four or five things that he does have.  If you ask for anything special he just scoffs and walks away.  The beginnings of a fine chef.  Both of our kids have a great interest in the restaurant seeing as they often come with me to work and hang out with staff in between babysitters or when we just don’t have any babysitters.  Bring your kids to work days are many for me.

This weekend was especially busy so i had many things to prep before Monday morning.  I’ve been baking all our bread fresh at BKB so the amount of prep some days can be daunting.  Sundays are my only day off and that often means i just have to go in for a few hours instead of all day.  On this particular Sunday Anastasia offered to come help and we decided to bring the kids.  When i brought the idea up to them they lit up. Funny but i can see why that would be exciting for them.  Charlie especially was very serious when we discussed how he can learn how to do all the things that it took to run a restaurant not just the cooking.  We drove down to the restaurant and immediately got to work.  I started prepping the dough and Anastasia was in charge of the crew to clean the dining area.  Dave, my partner, had just finished doing some repairs and must have thought it was a weird way to spend a day off with the family.  The kids were unbelievable.  Charlie (4) and Jack (6) cleaned the entire dining area.  They swept, wiped tables, wiped seats, vacuumed, and wiped down all the legs of the chairs.  Even I thought it would turn disastrous after a while and just lead to the boys running around playing Star Wars.  It didn’t.  They were very focused.  I was shocked to see how serious and excited they were doing it.  It was fun.  For everyone.  I’ve decided to make this a regular occurrence and give them an allowance for it.  Aside from it being cheap labour for me, it teaches them a good work ethic, the notion of working for your money and it also give them a true insight on what mommy and daddy do all day when they’re at work.  Being self employed in the hospitality business has its ups and downs but it has does have a unique sense of teamwork and bringing people together.  I so look forward to the day that the boys will want to come work with me when they’re older.  The old school idea of passing things on from generation to generation is not dead.  I love the idea of having a modern day version of the family restaurant.  Maybe one day you will be lucky enough to eat at “Charlie’s Famous Food” restaurant.  Apparently he makes the best frittattas in town.

Finally OPEN for Dinner

February 5, 2009

I’m taking this opportunity to let everyone know that we are finally opening for dinner starting Friday February 6.  The Black Kettle Bistro has had lots of success with its lunch business but we have had a hard time bringing everything together to open later and offer a great product.  We’ve got it all now.  If you’re downtown either night this weekend you should stop by and take a look at what we’re offering.  Aside from our regular menu we have a full cafe menu with roughly 20 organic loose leaf teas, organic coffee, organic espresso based drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos, and organic 100% fruit smoothies.  On top of all that we have a full bar menu.  We have beer, wine, martinis, and a range of mixed drinks.  If you’re feeling creative simply add a shot to any of our coffees or smoothies.  It’s the perfect place to stop in for a quick bite, chat over coffee or have a drink before heading to the bar.  We are also open late on weekends so after the bar stop in for your late night munchies.  Come by and say hello.  Come early, I may not be in such a good mood by 2 am.  We’ve worked really hard in striking a balance between coffee house, restaurant, and lounge.  Please stop in and let us know what you think.  Before you head out to your favorite watering hole come by for quick peak.  Besides, if you’re hungry, the phries you get at other places downtown won’t really compare to anything you have at BKB.   We’re now open from 9am to 10pm Monday through Thursday, open till 3am on Friday and Saturdays, and closed Sundays.   Hope to see some recognizable faces as well as new faces that have yet to experience BKB.

Vote for Phog! Today and everyday this week!

February 4, 2009

I wanted to send a big congrats and good luck to Tom and Frank at Phog for their nomination and finalist as top 50 live venues in Canada on CBC radio3. I was happy and surprised to see that it was also mentioned in the Windsor Star. They’re not usually too good at showcasing smaller stories like this. If you haven’t already voted you should. It will take four minutes of your time. Follow this link   http://radio3.cbc.ca/polls/?pollId=31. Do it everyday and tell everyone you know to do so as well. Put it on your facebook status, send emails, whatever it takes to get the word out. This is a big deal. Windsor is one of the smallest cities on that list and Phog is up against some giants in the business. This would be huge for Windsor as well as Phog. Having a major national media outlet recognize you in this way is big. All the news that comes from Windsor is so negative. Let’s change that. Vote today, tomorrow and everyday until the contest ends. There are 3 or 4 more rounds so pay attention to the site and vote regularly. Windsor is often forgotten because of its distance down the 401 by so many Indie bands but Phog continually attracts great national acts as well as local talent, a testament to the effort and passion that makes Phog truly the best venue in Canada. Go vote now!

Romantic Gourmet Auditions

February 4, 2009

Just pulling out of union station in Toronto. Well I had my first audition yesterday. (I use first as if I have so many lined up. Not the case.) Not really sure why that’s worth mentioning. I think the word audition carries so much weight and invokes so many ideas of grandeur. The notion of ‘the big break’ inspires everyone for some false hope at a life so special. Well that romantic notion is just a way of elevating the importance of such an event but is not really grounded in actuality. In actuality it was a bland, short, uneventful twenty minutes.

After a brief lunch with my friend Aaron and a long trolley ride west, I found myself at a small photography studio. I walked in, sat down, signed a release form and waited. After a brief wait a woman escorted me downstairs where they had a small studio set up. Within minutes of taking off my coat I was in front of the bright lights and camera mimicking a cooking show. In broken English the cameraman/director tried to explain to me the premise of the show. It goes like this. A chef and a female co-host receive letters from viewers. The theme of the letters revolves around the idea that the viewer would like to cook something special for her/his husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend especially because their relationship is going through a tough time. It’s called The Romantic Gourmet by the way. So we read the letter, discuss how we can help and what kind of dish we’ll prepare and then we split up. The chef, me in this case, goes shopping for the food and the female host goes and meets the couple and talks to them. We then cook a meal with the person who wrote the letter and then serve it to them. They love it, fall deeper in love and everybody lives happily ever after. Interesting premise for a show, it will probably do well. The entire time leading up to it and the entire trolley car ride after the audition, I tried to understand why I came to Toronto and did the audition. I’m not really sure I would like this sort of show. I definitely wouldn’t watch it and I don’t think I would enjoy playing the part. I’m not really a good fit for it. I would be better suited for a show on the spike network where I can be myself and talk about food and cooking with a lot of passion in my own unique way (expletives and all). That being said, why was I here in Toronto trying to get this part? It’s all part of the long arms of promotion. What better way to help promote BKB, Windsor, and any future projects by having a recognizable public persona. When you decide to be self employed and wander the weary world of small business you come to a realization that everything you do is interconnected in one way or other. Like it or not. Do I agree with the concept that it should be like that, not really, but I do realize it as reality and trudge on. If they called me tomorrow and told me I got that part, even with the realization that I wouldn’t really enjoy it, I would gladly accept and then tell the world about it. I might even do a happy dance. As much as I might not like the day to day of doing the show I know that it would be a great benefit to promoting everything else I do. As for how I think I did, well I wouldn’t be surprised if I got a second chance audition, but I would be VERY surprised if I got the part. They liked my camera presence when I mimicked the cooking portion but I think I fell flat when working off the co-host and doing the intro and closing. I can’t just instantaneously get into character and have some funny banter and great rapport with someone I just got introduced to and am standing next to for the next three minutes. I have trouble with the bullshit. I guess that same attitude can be seen in most projects or interests I’m involved in. Not much bullshit, just simple and to the point. BKB is a great example of that. No fan fare, no bells or whistles. Good food, actually great food, served fast and bloody cheap. That simple.