November 19, 2013

You’re the lab

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We pulled up a recipe from previous years: the Butternut Squash Sandwich, thinking we were going to put it on the menu. Some of you have been asking me about this sandwich, remembering it from last year and asking if it’s coming back.

The answer is yes, but give us a couple of months. We have a new process for food development. The first stage is tasting it in our food development meeting, which happens once a week. And we all agreed this sandwich should be better before we sell it, so it’s going back to the workshop.

Our food development process is 2 stage, we (1) develop stuff internally. Our mark of success is when we want another bite, and another bite. We don’t serve anything out until we think it tastes great. Then we enter the second stage (2) where we sell you our experiments and ask you to contribute to making them better. We have lofty goals. We’re trying to serve food without meat to folks who otherwise eat meat at almost every meal. We want our food to win, to taste better than  alternatives. We need a food that’s local and relevant to place and season because that’s how we make the food taste the best. But we need this food to be cheap, and fast to make/ serve. So how do we do all of that? How can we possibly get that right?

I’ve realized in the past couple of days that a lot of folks are misunderstanding the “food lab” bit of what we do. We’re not the lab, well not just us. You’re the lab. You and us. It’s a beautiful collaborative effort. Everything we’re doing well is a result of input and help we’ve gotten from our customers. So that second stage, where we test items with our customers, is absolutely critical to what we are trying to do with food.

We’re going to be launching 2 new sandwiches tomorrow. Come by for a taste. One has Indian flavors, one has brussels sprouts and smoked cheese. They’ve both passed that test that we want another bite. (I had to make up extra samples when we were tasting them in the food dev meeting. And when we were selling them at Harvard Square this past Friday as a test run we saw a lot of happy faces.) Now the question is what you all think.

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