As I mentioned earlier, I was lucky enough top be a recipient of an award from the seminal Bob Appetit magazine. Rancho Gordo was one of the "Hot 10" for 2009. I'll be honest, when the letter arrived on my desk, I thought it was a subscription renewal notice and it sat there unopened for almost a week. I've saved the letter because it's stained with coffee that flew out of my mouth as I read that I was to come to New York as a guest of the magazine and receive the award.
Now, I know I've been very lucky with all the press we get and I know not to take myself too seriously but this was one of "those" moments. How often in life do we work hard and then are recognized for what we do? I used to joke that "pluck makes luck" but maybe it's really true.
Bon Appetit went to every effort to make us feel like celebrities. Private cars to and from the airport and the big party, statuettes, a fabulous dinner and a great room at the Ace hotel were all part of their thoughtfulness. But really, the greatest highlight was meeting the other "Hot 10". I've already sent emails back and forth with many of them.
After dinner the first night in New York, I turned to my literary agent, Kitty, and siad, "I could live here!" but we were in New York for only four days and each day was jam-packed and by my last night, I couldn't wait to get home. I met with all the major retailers and a few of the restaurants we sell. I missed most everyone else and virtually all of my friends.
At the actual ceremony, I was pretty much a mess when I got up to accept the award. What do you say to this group? Ted Allen was helpful in making we novices comfortable but it was still pretty nerve wracking.
At one point I found myself joking around with Daniel Boulud and Jose Andrés and my mind raced back to one of many rainy mornings before dawn as I made my way out to the farmers market. I remember cursing the rain and tripping in the dark towards my truck, imagining my friends and family all warm in bed. And feeling very sorry for myself. Naturally the market was dead and no one had the time or interest in heirloom beans until one of my regular customers came and declared, "I only came in this rain because I knew you'd be here." It reminded me of why I was doing what I was doing and why I should shut up and suffer a little rain if it meant someone was doing the same for me. There were many days like this and the payoff has been customers who care about what we're doing and are personally involved in Rancho Gordo and years down the road, I'd be at a swank New York party sipping champagne with Daniel Boulud and Jose Andrés.