We’ve just added selected archives from fourteen years of “Notes From the Kitchen.” It was an emotional process reading through these years of writings. There is certainly a lot of cringe-worthy material in there. I often found myself asking “did I really email that to thousands of people?” Yes I did.
In the first ten or so years of Legume, when it seemed like an article was being written about me or the restaurant every month or so, it was really easy for me to think that what I had to say was more important than it really was. Legume arrived at a moment when the infrastructure of the food world was set up to amplify the kinds of things I had to say. Of course, I didn’t see or appreciate any of what had been set up for me–I just thought I was awesome. Thank god Sarah’s been the editor all these years, because I am sure there would be a lot more in the archives for me to cringe at.
Even though it may have inflated my ego, the recognition received in the early years was a great motivator for our whole team. It helped us believe in what we were doing, which inspired us to follow our creative bliss. In going through the archives it has been fun to look back on how ambitious we were. We did things in our restaurant that no restaurant in our location and price point had any business doing, like butchering whole steer, grinding polenta daily from whole corn, and canning a year’s worth of tomatoes every fall. This actually required more than confidence; it required a certain degree of ignorance of industry standards and a whole lot of luck. When I think about it, I can’t really believe that Legume operated that way for almost fourteen years.
While it’s easy to romanticize those years, I am glad they are behind me. Butterjoint may be a little less ambitious than Legume was and thus, perhaps, a little less interesting on the surface of things, it’s actually a much better restaurant on the whole. If Legume was the fun friend you had in high school that was always getting you into trouble, perhaps Butterjoint is the childhood friend you go to when you need your spirit to be restored.