The Stuff On The Bottom

Let’s end the week with some Foodie Friday Fond Fun.

English: Fond left in a white enamel pot after...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is fond, you ask? A food scientist would tell you it’s the residue on the bottom of the pan left over when you sauté meats or vegetables. It’s the browned stuff that forms from either caramelization of sugars or from something called the Maillard Reaction. I’d tell you it’s yummy goodness.

Every good cook knows that you never toss this stuff.  It’s the base for most good pan sauces and at a minimum you want to use it in whatever else you’re going to be doing with what you cooked to create the reside in the first place.  The addition of a little wine or stock or even water will release the fond and that process is called deglazing.  You can then use the resulting liquid either to make a sauce (add butter and seasonings) or as the base for anything from gravy to soup.  Whatever you do, you never want to discard it

That principle applies to business as well.  There are a number of very successful companies that are built on the residue of other business activities.  Think about how many times you read about “unsuccessful” brands being sold off or failing businesses being bought to be turned around, reinvigorated, or repositioned to yield better results.  Those things are the fond of business and private equity firms have learned to deglaze those opportunities into excellent profits.

We do that to people too sometimes.  An employee is not producing as they once did or maybe a smart person with excellent skills is burned out.  Rather than discarding them we should be thinking about what we can add – the deglazing liquid – to bring them back to life and transform them into a more productive, happier person.  Maybe it’s a role change or maybe it’s a different sort of challenge.  Like fond, discarding them is a waste of something that can be quite good.

The next time you cook something in a pan, think about how the stuff on the bottom of the pan will be used.  When you get the chance, you might give some thought to recognizing and using it in the office as well.  Yum!

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