The duck video, September highlights, and an ivy wall


It's funny the things our kids bring into our lives--ideas and influences we wouldn't have expected that teach us something important about ourselves in some small way. After a couple of hours of being babysat, my daughter Lily came back with a new obsession. The duck video. "Can you find the video on your phone?" She kept asking. And asking. And asking. 

Finally, I gave in. All I had to go on was that there was a duck and a lemonade stand. Fortunately for me, that was enough for Google to get me to the right place. The duck video, in all its glory.

After we watched it (twice), I realized that, funny and charming as it was on its own, there was an important message waiting for me to share with my clients: Give the people (and ducks) what they want.

This duck comes to the lemonade stand every day. He's asking for grapes, which is absurd, but it's a good metaphor for the common customer. Customers want what they want; they feel entitled to it. They may even get mad (reasonably or not) if you can't provide what they're looking for. And they'll never, ever forget the experience of disappointment. 

If you're a bakery, you'd better offer great coffee. If you sell coffee, you're going to need wifi. If you have wifi, they'll want to sit and have a sandwich. Pretty soon, you're filing for an ABC permit and looking into tap systems. 

There's a balance to look for--finding a way to make customers happy while staying true to the brand you've created. If you're a donut shop, you're not going to offer poke, no matter how often people ask. If you're a hat store, you probably won't start selling hot dogs. But look for the balance of who you are and what your customers are asking for when you read feedback from guests, and ask yourself, "how can I give the people what they way?" Maybe, just maybe, if you offer them some grapes, they'll finally buy that cup of lemonade.

A good example of this is the new breakfast sandwiches at Whisk. Almost the minute Morgan Botwinick opened her bakery, customers started asking for all sorts of things--more food, more drinks, more macaron ice cream sandwiches (ok, that last one was me). One of the most common requests was for breakfast sandwiches, and after almost a year in business, Morgan gave in to the request.

Now, Morgan says, Whisk offers breakfast sandwiches every Saturday and Sunday (bacon, egg and cheese or just egg and cheese on their croissants), and they typically sell out of them by 12:00 or even 11:00! People are loving them, and they're bringing new customers to the bakery on the weekends, and those customers are finding other menu items to love. And that's the whole point! Morgan's giving the people their grapes, and they're sticking around to buy the lemonade.


Don't think of it as saying goodbye to summer; rather, think of it as an oath to uphold all the chillness that embodies the very best season--It's Stock Provisions' Endless Summer Party with Saison and The Veil TONIGHT at Stock. Snacks and high fives guaranteed.


This year's Beast Feast is shaping up to be an amazing afternoon of food, drink, and meat sweats on September 25th.

I mentioned some of the chefs and bartenders that will be participating earlier this month, but one good way to gauge how awesome an event will be is to look at the participating farms. Autumn Olive Farm, Buffalo Creek Beef, Creekstone Farms, Mount Vernon Plantation, Reidy Pond Farm, Tomten Farm, Deer Run Farm, Origins Farm, and Rappahannock Oyster company will all be providing food for the chefs to prepare over the open fire at Scotchtown. Tickets are selling at a steady clip, so if you're planning on coming, you're going to want to lock those down RIGHT MEOW.


Two of Richmond's most celebrated chefs--Lee Gregory and Joe Sparatta--are heading to Charlottesville on Sunday, September 11th for a family-style feast at Blenheim Vineyards, benefitting the Local Food Hub and Farm Aid. Read up on both organizations and then make your plans to caravan to Blenheim for the teepees, cocktails, live music, and farm-found food.


Softshell crab sandwiches at Yellow Umbrella Provisions this week, Thursday through Saturday!!! $10 for a fried softy, tomato, lettuce, and tartar sauce on a brioche bun. DON'T SLEEP. 


Support one of the raddest, most impactful organizations serving the youth of Richmond--Richmond Young Writers--at their upcoming dinner at Metzger Bar & Butchery, Metzgermorphosis. You will not turn into a fly, but you will enjoy literary-inspired dishes from Brittanny Anderson and a sense of having done something good with your $75.


It's like a mojito you can enjoy during a jog or a meeting--muddled mint and lime, lightly sweetened, with sparkling water. Ahhh.


They can seem a bit ubiquitous, especially if you're a chef. They're the go-to green thing that garnish almost every plate. But they're more than just a sprig of color. These mini green things can pack big flavor and tons of nutrients, so don't overlook them when you're shopping for yourself.

Shiloh's Micros sells microgreens at the Birdhouse Market. There are several varieties available, including sunflower sprouts, but no mixes, meaning you're tasting one green at a time. Their broccoli sprouts are great in pita pocket sandwiches. Cabbage Hill farm at the South of the James market sells a spicy asian mix that is ideal for filling up spring rolls. And Manakinetowne Growers were the micro pioneers in this area, growing microgreens long before it was common. They've still got some of the best around, and you can find them at Ellwood Thompson's, Yellow Umbrella, Little House Green Grocery, and Stock Provisions.


It's on the DL for now, but soon tickets will go on sale for a super exclusive dining experience behind an un-named ivy wall in the fan on September 23rd. Five courses, twenty seats, and three very inventive cooks. Tickets are available for $75/person RIGHT HERE.