The start of a long weekend and time for a little food-related thinking. After all, what better way to celebrate our nation’s independence than firing up the grill and eating to excess?
Grilling is one of those food preparation methods that seems ridiculously simple but can be very challenging to perfect. In fact, I was thinking this morning about how a lot of the great food we eat seems so simple but can require hours of complicated prep to produce great results. The funny thing is that the response we often hear is “That’s pretty good,” not “I really like the way they moved the seared meat over indirect heat to generate a smoke ring while keeping it moist.” The diners usually appreciate how it tastes without any thought as to how it’s made. This, of course triggered a business thought I’d like to share.
At the highest levels of cooking, most folks can’t imagine how what appears to be a simple sauce is made. There isn’t a lot of thinking about roasting bones properly and the straining that goes on for a meat stock. Clarifying a consommé is a technique with which even experienced cooks might struggle yet the result is a simple, clear broth. This weekend many people will grill some sausage but they really don’t want to see how it’s made or know what goes into it. They just want it to taste good. In fact, it might even be better if they didn’t know!
Business is the same way in my mind for the most part. Oh sure, there are geeks in every profession who will admire the end result with the knowledge that the simple can often be deceptively difficult and, therefore, is really very elegant but they’re a minority. Joe DiMaggio was underappreciated as a fielder because he made the hard catches look so easy yet others struggled to make similar catches. We can’t build a business based on pleasing a tiny, educated minority: we need to produce results that a broader customer base can appreciate based on the results themselves and not on how we produced them.
The most important factor is the consumer’s reaction to the product, not the fact that it took a lot of hard work to get that positive response. Taste generates the “WOW”, not the technique. Now go enjoy your results and the long weekend.