Rebel Yell.

It’s a strange experience, this entrepreneurship thing. It’s life, amplified.

There are two distinct camps of entrepreneurs I’ve encountered since starting High Road – one savory, one unsavory.

There are the “deal people.” They think in waves of valuation – a modern-day synonym for extraction. Sadly, they call themselves “deal guys.”

What’s in it for me? 

How much can I squeeze out of this thing before flipping onto the next thing? 

The dismal science says this is okay so long as a greater economic good emerges for society, but so often, no such broad-stroke good happens. See: Talenti and the City of Marietta. Someone takes most and heads to the beach. Or worse, fancies themselves a newly minted finance professional. Luck does weird things to the ego.

Here’s the formula: Invest a ton in a disruptive package – one that seduces the consumer. Target market like crazy. Millennial Ladies? Force distribution like mad. Spend whatever it takes. MegaCorp gets seduced or irritated. Mwah ha ha! Sell at crazy valuation. Pick new category. Repeat.

These people suck.

Then, there are the rebels. 

Joe Strummer said,” Without people, you’re nothing.” 

Here is High Road, on the cusp on our own major label success, all the “help” in the world flowing to our headquarters. It’s finally easy to get the meeting. Press. Big sales. All that.

But we’ll keep going if and only if the deal guys buy into two High Road truths:

1. That this brand thing is a bunch of crap. That the idea of brand was conjured up by soulless corporate monoliths to force soul into a vacuum where no soul existed. 

2. That we’re a bunch of cooks and artists and craftspeople looking to attract more cooks and artists and craftspeople, because the world is a better place when cooks and artists and craftspeople tint and quilt and weave and wave the fabric of our society.

High Road is a really hard place to work. We’re figuring ourselves out daily, and are quickly developing an army of well-worn cooks and artists and craftspeople.

With souls.

Capabilities matter.

Cultures matter.

Living wages matter.

Factories matter.

We’re older now. We’re taking punk rock from the club to the board room.

Look out.

Killer Dish Alert: South City Kitchen – Buckhead

If you do one thing while in Buckhead, Metro Atlanta, stop in at the super-chic South City Kitchen and order the Braised Lamb Shoulder. The dish is reflective of the kind of cooking you’d expect from a NoMad in New York, and hints at high notes from Colicchio’s hey day.

It’s an expression of killer cooking — a perfectly executed braise, with a gorgeously torn and glistening chunk o’shoulder. Root vegetables. Sauce at perfect nappé. Really nice, folks.

The cocktail program is elegant and polished, too. This place is perfect for doing business in style.

Fresh Masa in Roswell, Georgia – Found!

Carniceria Tres Hermanos is my weekend go to for a little solitude, Jarritos, and the freshest, ripest avocados in town. 

They’re now carrying a most amazing stone ground fresh masa, of which I scored a pound or so for about six dollars.

Go. Practice your Spanish. Marvel at the gorgeous carnitas, pre-cut nopales, and the immigrant landscape of the North Atlanta ‘burbs.

De nada.

A letter to kitchen and hospitality people.

I posted this on Facebook recently, expecting a minor backlash. Refreshingly, a lot of love and support percolated. 

Work in a hotel, in the back of the house – feeding hundreds and hundreds of folks – on every major holiday – for decades – and you’d be feeling me on this…

To my dear friends from around the world — who worked in kitchens and hotels serving others tirelessly — putting in 80 hr + weeks for little pay, I salute you. 

Many of you were undocumented, or benefitted from a stroke of luck in what seems to me to be a bizarre immigration lottery. You sought and/or still seek a safe path to a reasonable life as a resident or eventual citizen of our country, and we’ve left you marginalized, with little hope of normal integration. 

You live in fear. You risk exploitation by employers. You engage in humbling work, even though you come with degrees in engineering, education, and medicine. 

You sought to play a loving role in the American Dream — a dream that adds you, your language, your faiths, your cuisine, your music, and your customs to a tapestry that some of us call America. 

There are two distinct Americas right now, and I will be offering up the rest of my existence to making sure that not only are you welcomed, but that you are celebrated. We are one humanity.

To my Muslim friends, who fled violence to keep your families safe here, I am sorry and embarrassed. You are beautiful people, seeking nothing but peace and opportunity. Don’t give up on America. The emerging airport protests illustrate that you are welcome and loved.

I will stand against this President with all of my might. I will use this unfortunate, all-consuming social media platform to kindle my efforts, and will not limit my online existence to feel-good pictures of family and ice cream. Unfriending is welcome, and I will not go silent.

I will work with the progressive, pro-business, socially liberal/accepting, moderate, reasonable men and women in my community to ensure that our nation moves past divisiveness, and becomes dignified again. The world needs a healthier, more stable America, and it is my generation’s moral obligation to bring it on.

I encourage all people, right and left of center, to seek data and news from reputable sources, ones more concerned with truth than ratings. 

It seems that Facebook is a reasonable forum to overtake — to flood with civil dialogue and a path to justice for all.

It’s on.

Since Mad Deliciousand the subsequent brain-lock I experienced, I haven’t written much more than email – copy for High Road Ice Cream sales presentations – or Slack interactions with the team here at the ice cream company. Even my Mother hasn’t heard enough from me. I haven’t served-up anything of substance for you.

So, I’m back.

Occasionally, I’ll be overly technical, cheeky to the point of being off-putting, and vocal enough to antagonize. My intention, however, is to work very hard at being present in this wondrous and bountiful world. Loving kindness. Loving kindness. You know the challenge.

Truth is, I’m infuriated by the direction of our country, irritated by the state of the food world (more to come), rattled by the aims of industry (read this), and agitated enough to pursue an anti-career in politics (all incumbents should be contested, every election).

After 43 years of life, thousands of hours in kitchens, with footprints and gin-tinged memories from around the world, there are some words bottled-up.

I’ll leave them here.

All I want to do on this earth is walk, help, cook, compete, and honor the good stuff – whatever that means and wherever that takes me.

I hope you’ll join me from time to time.