Saturday, October 20, 2007

Some Changes at Black Trumpet


My talented, wise and beautiful wife, Denise, has made a big step in her career by opting to phase out a job that has meant a lot to her over the last five-plus years. IW Financial, a values-based investing research firm in Portland, has offered Denise a challenging work environment on the cutting edge of both technology and investment worlds since our return from Mexico in 2003. She will be phasing out that chapter in her career so she can focus on the restaurant more closely, in turn giving our beloved staff more centralized leadership. This change arrives as one of our most valuable players departs: Sarah is ending her tenure as Operations Manager after getting us on our feet these last few months. We will miss her dearly and wish her well in her endeavors. Casey, too, who has been a hard-working smiling face on the floor and behind the bar, will be stepping down from his role as General Manager. He will continue to work behind the bar while he seeks alternate routes during the day. As sad as these departures are for us and our team, we are all looking forward to having Denise around more.

Friday, October 5, 2007


Time for an update on our Black Trumpet goings-on:


Mushrooms have been plentiful despite the lack of rain. Carrie, a line cook and assistant pastry chef, has expressed interest in seeking out mushrooms with me for a while. Last weekend, Carrie and I hiked into the woods around my house and came up with some beautiful boletes, a few hedgehogs and a big surprise--matsutakes!! Matsutakes are a hard-to-find wild mushroom that grows under certain conifers in damp, mossy woods. The New Yorker (or was it the Sunday Times mag?) recently published an article about the intense competition for matsutake harvesting in the Pacific Northwest. A great, must-read article that was more about immigration than mushrooms, it discussed a group of Korean migrant workers who were trumping the embittered local mushroom hunters by finding caches of matsutakes at nighttime.

If the rainlessness continues, of course, our supplies of local wild mushrooms will end prematurely, forcing me to buy all the mushrooms for our menu from nationwide distributors. There's no sport in that, but at least I won't have to wear my blaze bandanna and whistle loudly to notify hunters of my presence in the woods.


The wheels beneath the cookbook project are finally moving, now that the first phase of our opening is complete, systems are in place and running smoothly, and staff roles have jelled. I spent a few hours last week with James Haller, founding chef of the famous Blue Strawbery and co-author of the forthcoming cookbook. I brought some smoked pork to his house, which we heated up on his beautiful cookstove, and he made his favorite chocolate flan for dessert. We discussed the cookbook project, and he read a personal introduction he had written. It seems as though the scope of the book is still unknown. We are waiting for a publisher to take interest in the project, which would then give us a concrete deadline and motivate us to give the book a structure. Until then, we are still in the ideation phase of the project. So, if you or someone you know would like to publish a really great cookbook that spans thirty-seven years of cooking in three successful restaurants at the same address, please let us know so we can get more motivated.

More updates soon....