Thursday, March 24, 2011

We get to build something... how very cool is that?

I had an email from an old work colleague from half way around the world today.  I was sharing my frustrations in the delay of us taking over the property because I have always been someone that has been in control.  "Control Freak"... I hear you scream, not so much as someone that likes to have an over all handle on things.  Through the back and forth emails she said   "I’m so excited for you. You are actually building a business with your own hands- I really want to see it someday" (she lives in Canada).    Then it hit me...  We (Peter and James) are actually building something.  Something that represents everything we want in a cafe, in service, ,in presentation, in the product, food  and brand - From the ground up.  How very cool is that?

For us this is huge.  It's not just taking over someone's business it is building something from the ground up, it is building a company and delivering a vision we have wanted to create for so long now.  Pete took over Arcadia and turned it around into what people enjoy today. Mister Close is different - we have to hit the ground running and just hope that everyone will love what we do.  It hasn't been easy, in fact far from it.  The amount of times you can doubt yourself is ridiculous.  Where is Oprah when you need her?

I am proud of what we are about to build on Tuesday and I know Pete is too.  Kind of weird to put everything you have into something like this and have so much faith in each other.  Simply the most exciting thing in the world - best part is the last 3 weeks have perhaps been the hardest for us because of the delays.  Losing our momentum, going a little stir crazy because we have to put things on hold until we know our open date, but the silver lining is obvious - it will just make our opening so much sweeter.  It has made us want this so much more.  We can't wait to properly meet Mister Close because up until now he has just been a figment of our imagination.  Up until now he has been 1,001 parts in our heads, on spread sheets, on architectural plans, in permits, colour swatches, website designs and cookbooks. 

We thank everyone for their continued support of us  (especially Fi and Ian) and what we are building.  I can't tell you how much we appreciate the love and encouragement from our friends and family.   It has been a huge challenge and we just can't wait for you to meet Mister Close (after Easter).  YAY!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Food Glorious Food

We (Peter and James) had an almost identical upbringing.  We grew up in the eastern suburbs, we both went to the same secondary school, our first job was at Kmart Doncaster (James, sporting goods selling ammunition and guns at 15 and Pete’s was in the garden department – both of which we knew nothing about), we then both left Kmart to wash dishes of all things.  Pete at the Mitcham Hotel and James at Babarinos Doncaster – both while studying.  Then we both scored jobs at Arabesque in Camberwell as waiters.  This little Arabian restaurant commenced our love affair with food and hospitality, but it is the love affair with food we are here today to talk about… (so lets fast forward 20 years)

Pete is the author of this entry - Mister Close will be an open cookbook.  My training in the kitchen and cooking for cafes has spanned over 12 years.  I guess life leads us in all directions and while studying in Sydney in my mid 20’s my love affair with cooking great food that people enjoyed progressed even further.  While I never set out to work an oven and run a cafĂ© as a career, my heart told me otherwise.  With no formal training in food or even any experience working alongside other trained chefs, I have taught myself to cook the food that I love. Cookbooks have been my best ally in this endeavour and it's through these that I have honed my skills and my palate.

As we have mentioned Mister Close will be about the overall experience, but a HUGE part of that is the food.  I believe that food has to look fantastic (especially in the display counter) and why shouldn’t that extend to lunch in the city?  So that is why I go to great effort every morning making our food display cabinet look so good you want to inhale the whole lot.  Why shouldn’t food scream out to you “pick me pick me”.  I love to give people a difficult decision of what to choose to eat. 

What I love about our lunchtime display cabinet is that every day is open to interpretation. I may have eaten at a mate’s grandmother’s the previous night and try and replicate what I had, or a bargain tray of mango's might come in, begging to accompany some tuna fish cakes as a mango salsa or a huge crew of vegan's might make a booking early in the day (yes we even love vegans) prompting me to eliminate cheese, yoghurt and butter but still satisfy their hungry tummies.

Whatever situation I find myself in, with Mister Close’s food selection we will always be able to adapt. To be really honest, cooking the same food every day bores the hell out of me.  So that is why I work with this ever changing menu.  I like daily challenges, I like customer requests and I like spontaneous inspiration and with our food, I can put all of these into it - everyday!  Mister Close is about good honest food... glorious food.  Six more weeks and counting...