Compared to what?

 

Love the lie and lie the love

Hangin’ on, with a push and shove

Possession is the motivation

that is hangin’ up the God-damn nation

Looks like we always end up in a rut (everybody now!)

Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what?

Roberta Flack.

 

 

Thanks for the email. I certainly am disappointed that, after an $0.80 price increase, your restaurant is deciding to no longer support a local bakery. I brought you samples of an alternative bread four weeks ago and never managed to have you return my phone calls, emails, or texts—the time that I took was not reciprocated by you. It is also, to be completely honest, upsetting that no one from your restaurant ever came to our bakery to meet our staff, understand our mill and its flour, or to learn about our process. I’ve been to your restaurant multiple times and am familiar with your menu and your food; but that was never reciprocated. I took consistent time out of my days to reach out to you to invite you over, to bring you samples, to seek a deeper conversation about our ingredients and attempts to share those with others over the past years. I know multiple customers of yours will be incredibly disappointed to sit down to a meal at your restaurant without our bread served. If you think that you’ll save time or money doing something like baking service bread in house—after we’ve both established an incredible reputation for the quality of bread served in your restaurant—I will tell you from experience that you are going to be disappointed. The payroll cost, the ingredient cost, the time cost, the kitchen space, and the headache of producing yet another product in-house—an incredibly detailed and unique product at that—is only going to grow more expensive both financially and emotionally. Great chefs and great restaurants excel because they serve an incredible experience—not because they attempt to do everything. They leave the wine making, the fish catching, the bread baking, and the vegetable growing to the communities that do those things best. And if price is a consideration, as it always is, serve less. Good, healthy, nutritious cuisine is not amount heaping portions: it’s about the nuance of flavor, both of the ingredients, the chef, and the artisan.

 

I know how busy you are. But if you could have taken a small amount of time out of one of your days for the past three years that we’ve known each other, you could have learned more about why we need to charge more for our bread. And if you had done that, I wouldn’t feel as frustrated as I did when I saw your email. But you didn’t, and you don’t, so you’ll instead see it all through a certain lens which is terribly unfortunate. I still don’t make enough money, I still “work” seven days a week, we still make every single loaf of bread by hand no matter how little we sell our bread for. It’s because we love who we are, and we are manifest in what we do.

 

As you know better than anyone else, New Orleans and its ecosystem is in a tremendously dire straight. You are from St. Bernard Parish, and you know this better than anyone else. If we do not do our part to restore and remediate the land, there won’t be much of New Orleans left in twenty years. That starts with how and where we eat, not just what. Not supporting bakeries that seek unprecedented change in how and where our flour is produced by making it ourselves is quite blind. It’s the same betrayal of buying shrimp from Malaysia or Crawfish from Vietnam. At the end of the day, it hurts our neighbors. And what hurts our neighbors will only in turn hurt us, as the Bible teaches. It was the same conversation that I attempted to have with you regarding our grits, which you also disregarded and did not pursue. If chefs do not pursue these changes now, and are not willing to spend a little more now to save later, then there will be no French Quarter in a few decades. If we can’t make food with local ingredients, what kind of cuisine is that? What betrayal to our heritage, our land.

 

And I can’t imagine how impossible it would be for anyone, let alone a chef, to cry “too expensive!” if they only were to spend a day with us at the bakery: 14 hours next to a 570* oven, in a room that temps in August to 110*; on your feet bending, lifting, walking, moving bread bread bread all throughout the city. Milling fresh, organic, identity preserved wheats from small family farms and mixing it with Texas-grown olive oil into a three pound loaf of ciabatta bread that wholesales for $5.25. Do that full-time—on Easter, on Christmas, on Mardi Gras morning—and tell me in sincerity that our bread costs too much. And show me where the profits go; otherwise, I’ll tell you. Back to our farmers, to our equipment, to our mission.

 

I completely understand your decision and although I do not respect that choice, I completely respect you. I mean that sincerely. I only wish, and certainly have asked, that you showed me the same respect that I showed you. No one in this city tries as hard and as sincerely as we do to make something special, unique, nutritious, and wholesome. Your customers, for the past two and a half years, have learned that fact through the flavor and taste of our bread. I can only hope that you can explain to them, with words, the motivation behind taking that quality away.

 

 

 

Best

 

Graison

IMG_2305

 

 

Advertisements