October Editor's Letter

Article
Editor's Letter
17 October 2016

My first food job was working behind the counter at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My department was called “retail perishables.” We sold high-end staples like cured meats and raw milk cheeses, fresh baked breads and smoked fish. Sunday mornings were my busiest shift and despite being a college senior, I still showed up at the store at 6:30am to open its doors on time at 7. This was 1999. There was no such thing as a foodie. People did not share photos of their meals and snacks. Food fanaticism on the internet only existed on a limited basis; a discussion group called Chow Hound offered the best discoveries.

Most of what I tasted at work, I’d never seen or even heard of before. One of my favorite firsts was when my manager, John Loomis, made pour-over coffees for us early one Sunday. I watched him grind the beans, heat the water in silver kettle, and set filters over two mugs. By the time he handed me mine, with the coffee perfectly brewed, and beautifully balanced, I thought he’d invented the entire method himself. John was a genius, I was certain. Every week after, he seemed to continue to perfect his process.

As the food world got bigger, and more accessible, and as my job evolved, from shop guy to journalist, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this relationship between food and triumph. It can exist in a special cup of coffee (thank you, John). Really, any recipe can culminate in what feels like a victory that first time you nail it, or, even the many times after that. Food well prepared is always a win. But there’s more to it than mere mastery. So much of what’s interesting about the food world are the hard parts and how long and how mightily people will fight to overcome them.

Our October episode focuses on these difficult moments and tasks, and how our guests struggled, battled and finally changed their lives, and the lives of others, through enterprises related to food. Alexis Gallivan, of Blue Marble Ice Cream and its social entrepreneurship wing, Blue Marble Dreams, launched three unique businesses: in Brooklyn, Rwanda and Haiti. She used each previous experience not as a playbook, but as an incentive to confront a new challenge. Gaggan Anand, now considered one of the best chefs in the world, toiled through nearly a decade of extreme adversity, only to emerge, thousands of miles from home, more creative, more confident and more focused than ever (that's his carrot halwa ice cream above). Dan Giusti gave up a job working in one of the best kitchens on earth, at Noma in Copenhagen, to engage daily with eaters whom he felt could benefit even more from his expertise: American public school students.

Listening to Alexis, Gaggan and Dan, and even thinking about my old boss John’s persistence, week after week with the coffee, it’s clear that triumph, to those who achieve it, isn’t the end of their story. Instead, it’s often just the beginning, an inspiration for their next big goal. “I’ve still got a long way to go,” Gaggan resolutely told me at the end of our interview, even after having come this far. His very way of being strikes me as a triumph, too. Humility, in this world, seems to yield the most triumphant and delicious results.

Howie Kahn
Editor-In-Chief

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