October 31, 2012
‘Tis the Taste that Tells the Tale
from Chef George Sideras
I come from a long line of hospitality workers .My grandfather, a native of Greece, came to the United States and found employment as a bus boy, waiter and finally learned the trade of being a Confectionary. My earliest memories of him were visiting him at his candy store in Cleveland. I can assure you that I was able to acquire a more than healthy appreciation for chocolate which continues to this day. His brother, my Uncle Ted, chose a different route in the industry. He started working in kitchens eventually rising to the role of chef. While I did not know each of my elders all that well (they passed on while I was a small child) I have been blessed with some relics of their careers. I have three pieces that I am incredibly lucky to have in my possession, a photo of my grandfather holding court in his Candy Store, a photo of my uncle in a small restaurant kitchen in South Dakota during the Great Depression (family lore has them even making their own soap) and a menu from when my Uncle Ted was chef at The Northern Grill in Butte, Montana.
The menu has always had a special meaning to me. It represents a personal connection to family and our lives conjoined through our chosen professions. I did not get the chance to discuss my career path with Uncle Ted, but I look at the menu and can get a sense of who he was because of our shared love of food. As I sit here and look at the menu a couple things leap out. One striking note is the layout. While it is a printed menu, it has blank spaces on it that would allow him to type in daily specials and make seasonal adjustment to his customers. I can remember when I was a young chef and it was the beginning of electronic word processing. I was so jazzed to have the ability to semi -customize a menu daily to reflect the market conditions and seasonal offerings.
The second remarkable part of the menu was his tag line on the masthead of the menu, ”T ‘is the taste that tells the tale”. I have often quoted that line when talking to chefs about food. In the long run it’s all about flavor, no getting around that fact. When the Minor’s team rolled out our new tag line, Flavor Means Business, it struck me immediately that my Uncle Ted was once again in my life. And, this just reaffirmed what each and every chef through the ages has known that the ultimate arbitrator in the food world is flavor and no amount of fancy plating, special effects or marketing will ever change that fundamental core culinary tenet. As my uncle knew then and I know now, you always have a choice when it comes to flavor. Choose wisely my friend, because flavor does mean business.