Taste Bud Profile
As a New Yorker I might get in trouble for saying this—but I think about Kevin Crowley's bagels at The Lox in Columbus. A lot. During our interview, he told me about memories of his father, mother, and aunt cooking that ended up sticking with him and keeping him going through the process of opening your own restaurant. It struck me that the adults in his life, many of whom discouraged him from making food his profession, had made such a huge impression and didn't even realize it. I love how conscious Kevin and his wife are about including their kids in their food experiences, and also—I just can't wait to get my hands on another Lox bagel.
Kevin Crowley: My mom was the one who cooked all of my family meals, but—and she’ll tell you this herself—she wasn’t great at it. My dad worked a ton and would often come home after we had all eaten dinner, and would make dinner for himself. I can remember the anticipation waiting to see what he would whip together from what seemed like absolutely nothing to me. Garlic, olive oil, pasta—I was blown away at the simplicity of the ingredients and how delicious they were together. I remember grabbing a fork and diving in and just constantly being amazed by his ability to create this meal out of what seemed like nothing.
My ethos of “simplicity is key” comes directly from my father and that pasta. I want to take out all the non-essentials and really showcase the heart of the food. I also had an aunt who was a fantastic baker. I remember the cake she made for my first communion. It was one of the most delicious cakes I have ever tasted, and it’s still the benchmark by which I judge all cakes.
These memories are really important to me because we were not a “foodie” family, and it wasn’t a huge part of our lives. I grew up in what was not exactly a food desert, but certainly a place where it’s hard to find a place to eat that isn’t a chain or a pizza joint. I hold on to these memories to remind myself of where my passion comes from—my family said many times that “food isn’t a good profession” and I refer to those memories of my father and my aunt as justification for why I do what I do.
My wife and I try to do what we can to expose our kids to food in a way that I didn’t experience till the Food Network came along. I really had my eyes opened by the advent of TV shows that showed chefs cooking with any ingredient you can imagine and creating flavor profiles I had never thought of. For my kids, we don’t alter their meal plan from what we’re eating ourselves. For example, if we’re eating Szechuan food, we’re finding something on that menu for them to eat as well, not dumbing it down or allowing exceptions. I think it stops them from thinking that they can default to chicken nuggets because it’s just how dinner is for us.
Food is just being nice to people. Be caring.
Do what you can do well as well as you can do it, and then share it. If you put in all of that effort up front, you stand a really great chance of making someone’s day a little better.