If I could have changed one word in "The Graduate" - it would be to change the scene where one of the adults says to the Graduate (Dustin Hoffma): "I've got just one word for you, son... PLASTICS" - and I'd change it to PROCESS. It affects everything we do well as a society.
So many of the things we love depend on great process. Nick Saban's favorite line is to "trust the process" when he coaches his team. Great coffee is all about process from plant to bean to roast to drink.
So I love reading about another process-oriented field of culinary delight: Barbecue. This is pretty much the other state sport in Texas, and a recent article in Austin Monthly takes on the subject of Austin's youngest pitmaster at Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ. To be clear, in Texas, Barbecue is cooking with indirect heat (smoking). If you're cooking over an open flame or direct heat, that is what we call "grilling" in these parts.
"Gutierrez started her barbecue career pressing flour tortillas and running trays of spareribs and spicy Oaxaca sausage out to guests, but she’d often sneak back to the pits during lulls in service to observe Vidal and the other cooks. Over time, she received a series of promotions, rising from the cutting station to shift leader to, eventually, team manager—all the while putting in extra hours to learn the art of the smoke."
This is the common part of the story - you start by learning the mundane parts of the business, but if you're motivated, you spend the time and you focus on learning more - in this case, the art of the smoke. I don't imagine it would be as easy in a traditional restaurant to be front of house and still have the chefs help you learn their craft, but I think the art of BBQ is just something people want to pass on.
Overwhelmed by her resolve, Vidal made the conscious decision to teach her everything he knows about running a restaurant and making exceptional barbecue. That’s why, starting earlier this year, he outlined a detailed plan to make her the youngest female pitmaster—not only in the state, but the country. This included lessons on butchering, plating, grind- ing sausage, and understanding the intricacies of the flame.
“There’s more to being a pitmaster than just producing great ribs,” Vidal says. “I want her to know all aspects of a cook from beginning to end. If she comes in at 6 p.m., I want her to be able to look at some briskets and know exactly when they went on, just based on the color. Right now, she shows a lot of careful attention to detail, but I want her to know it all instinctively.”
It's a great story, and I can attest to just how good the food at Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ is - check out their Instagram feed to see how amazing the food looks - but you're going to have to get down there to find out how it tastes!
Next week (Wednesday, September 30th) we're going to talk about process- but maybe not BBQ - and we invite you to join us. Driven 2020 is all week, starting at 10am each day. Wednesday is Process Automation day, and we're going to talk about how process died and was brought back to life - and what process can do for you! Register HERE - it isn't too late - and it is free!