Interview with a Manager: Todd Herron

Often imitated, but never duplicated… meet Meadow Street’s infamous Store Manager, Todd Herron!

 

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Todd:

 

where are you from originally?

I am from Upstate NY. Canajoharie NY.

Cana-what?

Cana-where? Can-o-worms? cana-who? Cantcha-hear-me? Cantchahearme, NY.

(Laughing) I’ve never heard of that.

It’s on the thruway. Our claim to fame used to be Beech-Nut baby food… but it’s now defunct, well, it’s no longer in Canajoharie. The company moved to Florida, NY

Is that a native american name?

Canajoharie means boiling pot, and the legend is that the Iroquois Indians used to throw settlers into a whirlpool. The circular gorge is in the Canajoharie Creek, just south of the village, and it’s beautiful, in this big park.

Is any of your family still there?

None that I would admit. No, I’m joking! I have a few cousins, none of my immediate family. I have two sisters and they live outside of Philly.

Did you ever live in Philly?

No, not I. I lived in the city, and Boston.

What brings you to Ithaca?

Which time?

I don’t know. Elaborate?

I came here to visit friends and I met Ron, my partner, in 1980 and lived here for a year and then we moved to Boston. He got tired of the city and moved back here and I came back with the idea of moving back to Boston, but it never happened. I ended up staying since 1990.

So you moved back for him?

Mmhm, but don’t tell him that.

Did he have a job here?

Did he? He must have, but I don’t remember what it was. It was a blur.

How long have you worked at Ithaca Bakery?

Since the dawn of time, and before the dinosaurs. Since its inception… (laughing) It was June of 1991, so for 23 years and some change.

What inspired you to apply to Ithaca Bakery?

I was the assistant manager at Tops and I hated it.

Tops in Ithaca?

Yeah, I came back and was making bucco bucks on unemployment, and I had to get a job. Tops was too corporate, and this place had just reopened 6 months prior in October or November. I had just watched it and checked it out a couple times, and really liked it. While I was living in Boston one of my last jobs was managing gormet stores so I thought that there was a parallel. I came here and there was an ad in the paper and Gregar and Ramsey interviewed me. They hired me as a supervisor before becoming an assistant manager and then manager.

When you say that it had just opened. You mean that the Brous’ had just purchased it?

Yes, they had just acquired it, remodeled it, and opened 6 months prior to my starting.

How has the bakery evolved over that time?

Oh my. In my words? From my perspective, it’s amazing how it has evolved in a cultural sense.

How has the culture evolved?

Well, as culture changes, you know, it shifted our culture to become more technological, and environmentally minded. It had to, but the core culture of the business has been people. It has always been concerned about people’s welfare, and how we impact the community. The bakery’s environmental concerns grew out of that and then our technology grew from that. So things have changed, but there has always been a core mission or value that has kept me grounded, and kept me interested.

Where did you go to school?

I went to Syracuse originally, and then I went to culinary school in Cobleskill. I got a degree there, and then went to school in Boston(New England School of Culinary Arts), which was a year certification program.

What did you major in in Syracuse?

Oh, Architecture, but I never got a degree in that. Yeah, my life changed. I thought I was going to be a straight architect, and ended up being this, so go figure.

Why did you decide to jump ship and go to culinary school?

Oh, because I’ve always cooked, I mean, I cooked as far back as I can remember. I come from a family with a lot of cooks, and home cooking. My older sister got married and had a farm, and they always had fresh produce, and meats and we were always canning things.

You developed a healthy respect for fresh foods.

Yeah, always. I loved it. I never took it for granted. It was just a part of my life. When I got a job in High School, I cooked at a restaurant in town, and I cooked at another restaurant when I was in college.

So it’s always been there.

Oh yeah. And right before I met Ron, I was a cook at the El Tovar at the Grand Canyon for a season, so after that I really decided that I wanted to pursue cooking. I was a chef in boston while going to school. At one point I got thrust into a managerial position, and that was great. It was a wonderful experience.

Did you manage a restaurant?

Yes, it was always food related. I used to work with Julia Child.

Can you tell us a little bit about that?

I was working at Savenor’s market in Boston and she was a frequent customer. Her home was right around the corner on Kirkland Street. They would always need help with parties, and I would volunteer. She was already in her late 70’s by the time I met her and was working with her a little bit. So that was interesting. I remember spending time, and working in her kitchen and now her kitchen is a part of the Smithsonian.

Is that when you met Cindy Lauper?

No… I used to do a lot of benefits for AIDS awareness. It was the mid-80’s so it was a struggle for any AIDS fundraisers. Cindy Lauper was in the forefront, performing at these metro clubs in town. This company, Rudy’s, that I worked for used to donate food for the events, and I was unloading a van and carrying food. I was carrying these bins of chili shrimp up a set of stairs, and I hear high heels coming down the stairs really quickly, clip clip clip and BAM. She screamed. Finally I realized what happened when people asked if I had seen her… and I had just dumped a whole ton of chili shrimp all over her dress.

Did you get to talk to her after?

No! I was mortified. I didn’t want to see her. I saw her in passing, though I saw a lot of celebrities in Boston, which was fun. it was a really good time.

What do you feel are your strengths as a manager?

Organization and my ability to keep things running, functioning, operating. Troubleshooting. I mean I’ve learned from so many people throughout this business how to juggle, how to manage people, and to understand that the doors are going to open tomorrow and the business doesn’t rest on one pair of shoulders. It’s really important to understand that it’s a collaboration and a team effort and not just a few people who hold the key. There are pivotal people. We used to think that way about Sarah (former Director of Retail Operations), when Sarah was alive. She was the micromanager of all micromanagers and worked 100 hours and oversaw all of the stores. God bless her. When she got ill and stepped back, other people stepped up. And that’s what it’s all about.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Dealing with staff, and their personal issues. The drama. Being a Christian really helped me to learn patience and to learn to not rush to judgement and to not be short-sighted and callous. Of course I get my buttons pushed, but everyone has a story and every one has issues. You never know the whole story. I needed to understand better that people have the mentality of “this is my life and this is my problem, and you need to pay attention to this in my life” but this is times forty. Now, that has changed culturally over the years. I’ve seen that.

People have become more self-centered?

Oh yeah. Absolutely. I don’t really have an answer for what has caused that. I have suspicions which is everything is at our disposal. Everything is immediate. In my lifetime so much has transpired. When I was a kid we only had 3 TV channels. I remember when cassettes came out. But anyway, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword, since it’s because of people that I love my job. I love to see people and staff develop. I love to see customers be happy; to see people being satisfied and recognizing that. All the time that I’ve been here, helping people develop and overcome their challenges has been very rewarding because I don’t have kids, so it’s like they’re my kids. I’ve hired people whose parents’ I’ve hired. It’s a little scary, but it’s wonderful. It’s like “I remember when you were born”.

In the 23 years that you’ve been here, what is the most memorable moment?

I think being in the Ithaca Festival parade with Sarah. I was dressed as a bride, and she was the groom. It was an awesome moment.

Should we post a photo?

That would be great! It was hilarious. That was a lot of fun. I mean there were so many moments, but we used to be in the parade. It was so community oriented. Really, working with Sarah was a remarkable component of my job. If this room could talk.

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Outside of work what interests you?

Well I garden a lot, though not as much as I used to. I’m also involved in my church a lot. I’m a deacon. It’s really important to me because I was brought up a Christian, and I was alienated from the church all those years and finding this church and being involved in, most recently, the process to find a new pastor, is very remarkable and important: the spirituality of it. It’s a wonderful group of people, and they’re very supportive. I’ve always needed that in my life. That’s about it, besides my home. Oh, and Katie, my dog.

What kind of dog?

She’s a soft coat Irish wheaten terrier. She has the personality of a princess. She’s very sweet.

I’m sure it’s because you treat her like one.

Oh I do! And you know I used to cook a lot and entertain a lot, but I haven’t been doing that as much anymore.

What do you enjoy the most about Ithaca?

A strong sense of belonging. I’ve been here the longest that I’ve been anywhere. I’ve been here 25 years. It’s interesting and I don’t take anything for granted. It’s a testament to be able to say that I have lived someplace for 25 years, and I still like it. And I’ve seen changes both good and bad, but that’s what change is. I just love the sense of community, and the people. It’s a great group of people.

 

Triphammer Artist of the Month: Brian Magnier

Take a look at Brian’s work, on display tomorrow through October 3rd at our Triphammer location!

 

How did you get into photography? 

When I was around 9 or 10 years old, my parents bought a point-and-shoot digital camera, which I quickly loved and used to capture images of the local birds of Massachusetts. This hobby grew into a passion over a few years, and by middle school I was constantly taking pictures of wildlife, especially while hiking or on trips with my family.

Tell me something about your training and your influences.

I guess I don’t have any real training, though I love reading photography books and poking through nature photography magazines. One of my favorite things when I was getting started was going online and seeing all the amazing pictures that the professional wildlife photographers were getting, and that inspired me to improve and get better equipment.

What is your go-to camera?

For a while I had a Canon 30D SLR with a 300mm f5.6 lens, but I have since upgraded to a Canon 6D body. I have a used 500mm f4 I lens that is incredible for bird photography and videography, as well as a 100mm f2.8 macro lens and a 400mm f5.6 telephoto.

What is it about nature that speaks to you?

Ever since I can remember, I have loved being outside. I would always (and still do) poke under logs and rocks looking for snakes and insects. I am constantly trying to teach myself whatever it is I see outside. I think that what speaks to me most about nature is the sheer diversity of life out there, especially when you take a closer look at things.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio.

I enjoy scuba diving and I’m hoping to eventually get my pilot’s license.

What is your hidden talent?

I could say drawing, which is something I love to do when I find the time. However, I think I really have a talent for convincing people to take a closer look at interesting critters, especially the ones that often go unnoticed, such as invertebrates under a dock or snakes in the woods.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

I think that David Attenborough or Jeff Corwin, both amazing naturalists that I grew up watching on television, would have to be my inspiration. Interestingly, I always used to aspire to be like them – the one on camera. But now, my dream job would probably be the videographer for one of those guys on National Geographic or Animal Planet.

 

 

Grilled Peach Salad

At Meadow Street, we’ve  been experimenting with new and exciting salads on our fresh foods bar. Today, our kitchen cooked up a delicious Grilled Peach Salad, featuring a variety of local ingredients.

Grilled Peach Salad

Grilled Peaches

Arugula

Goat Cheese

Slivered Almonds

Fried Prosciutto

Balsamic Reduction

1. Heller’s Farm Peaches

Peaches

2. Grill Peaches

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3. Heller’s Farm Arugula

Arugula

4. Layer peaches on arugula

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5. Drizzle balsamic reduction so other ingredients stick.

Reduction

6. Lively Run Goat Cheese

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GoatCheese

7. Slivered Almonds

Almonds

8. Fried Prosciutto

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9. Layer goat cheese, almonds, and fried prosciutto

Finished_Salad

ENJOY!

Chris’ Kitchen Tips: BBQ 101

Chris is back, and this time sharing a little of his knowledge to lay the groundwork for your next summer BBQ!

I was halfway through a post about summer BBQ when I realized that there was just too much to cover without a jumping off point, so let’s start at the beginning. Anytime you are going to add heat to a protein you are going to have to combat dryness and toughness, as well as making sure that it is going to taste good. Lucky for us we can do all three at the same time, “how?” you may ask, well that’s where it gets interesting. Brining, dry rubbing and marinating are all ways to add flavor, tenderness and moisture to your food, but they all do it in different ways.

Brine can be a simple salt and water mixture, sometimes brines will have sugar, soy sauce, or molasses, but there is no right or wrong way to make a brine as long as it contains water, salt, and time. The idea is to create a solution that completely submerges, and penetrates your protein. Salt causes the proteins to unwind, and get tangled up. This forms a physical wall that traps moisture in, and during the cooking process helps to keep protein from drying out. The protein will be as salty as the solution so use that as a guide. Brines aren’t a great vehicle for adding big flavor; its primary function is to keep food moist. Flavors are added after or during cooking, usually in the way of a glaze or sauce. I love brines for poultry, and a simple brine before you BBQ chicken will take it to a whole new level.

Marinades differ from Brines; they are a mixture of oils, herbs, spices, salt, sugars, and vinegars that add big flavor, and tenderness. Acid in vinegar breaks down the fats and the bonds in proteins creating a much more tender meat. Oil coats the protein, protecting it from air, sealing in moisture and acting as a vehicle to carry the flavors from your spices into the meat. However, too much acid breaks it down too much and makes your dinner mushy. Too much oil will make a dripping mess, usually that will cause flare-ups and fire hazards. Also, since the marinade will only penetrate so far, its recommended for thin, or flat cuts of meat. Flank steak is a favorite cut; it takes marinades well and cooks very fast – perfect for Carne Asada.

When we talk BBQ, the majority of the time we are talking about ribs, pork butt and brisket. This is where a dry rub shines. A simple mix of salts, sugars and spices creates a crust on the outside of your meat, providing big flavor and texture. The salts break down fats inside the meat, melting it as it cooks keeping meat tender and moist during long cooking times. This makes it perfect for larger, thicker cuts of meat like pork butt. Sugars melt into the outside creating a crust holding onto flavor and giving a crisp crust. Dry rubs don’t work well with poultry, due to low fat content in the meat.

So what do you do? What is the best answer? Ask five Pit masters and you’ll get five answers. Truth is there is no right answer. BBQ encourages you to experiment; it forgives you if you make a mistake, and rewards you with amazing flavor for trying. Cheers.

What’s Jen Cookin’? – Jen’s Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

Our very own Jen Carmichael is cooking up some delicious, stuffed french toast… Try her easy-to-follow recipe at home!

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Jen’s Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

Yield: 8 servings

1 loaf Ithaca Bakery French Bread
Egg
Half & Half
Vanilla Extract
Strawberry Cream Cheese
Whole Strawberries, sliced

Cream Cheese Glaze:
Butter
Cream Cheese
Powdered Sugar
Vanilla Extract

Slice bread in half lengthwise and then cut into 8 pieces. Stuff each piece with strawberry cream cheese and fresh strawberries. Combine egg, half & half and vanilla extract in a bowl. Dip stuffed bread into the mixture until they are soaked. In a large pan, fry each piece with butter and oil until bread is golden brown.

Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Drizzle glaze over top of each stuffed toast and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

 


 

 

Triphammer Artist of the Month: Michele Steffey

Take a look at Michele Steffey’s work, on display now through August 17th at our Triphammer location!

Michele Steffey:

How did you get into photography?
I started in high school, with an elective photography class.  At that time it was all film photography and darkroom development of the negatives and prints was an important part of the process.  I really enjoyed it, but as film availability and printing options started to wane with the development of digital cameras, and because I was concurrently an income-limited student immersed in very time-consuming professional studies, I put photography aside for a number of years.  I have picked it up again in recent years.

Tell me something about your training and your influences.
I am a self-taught photographer.  My primary educational training has been in the sciences, but I very much enjoy the opportunity to use the other side of my brain! I personally like imagery with a lot of depth and textural qualities, and I attempt to bring that to my own work.

What is your go-to camera? Do you always shoot digital?
I started out in photography with a film Nikon, but I currently only shoot digital.  My go-to camera is a Canon 5Diii.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio.
I am an avid SCUBA-diver

What is your hidden talent?
I’m a very good home brewer and make a mean pale ale.

 

To see more of Michele’s work, visit michele-steffey.artistwebsites.com

What’s Jen Cookin’? – Jen’s Wicked Ribs

Today, Jen from the Ithaca Bakery kitchen, is cooking up her famous ribs and she was kind enough to share her recipe with us!

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1. Soak

Soak the ribs in brine for 2 days. This extended time makes the meat very tender.

Brine:
Lemon
Water
Salt


Brine_Ribs

Raw_Ribs

2. Coat

Coat ribs with rub and let set overnight

Rib Rub:
Brown Sugar
Kosher Salt
Cumin
Cayenne Pepper
Cinnamon
White & Black Pepper
All-spice
Granulated Garlic

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3. Bake

Bake ribs at 225 degrees for 4.5 hours.

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4. Glaze

Reduce ingredients in saucepan on stovetop. 

Glaze
Brown Sugar
Ketchup
Cider Vinegar
Whole Garlic Clove
Liquid Smoke
Onion
*Raspberry optional

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5. Enjoy!

Chris’ Kitchen Tips: Lists

We are starting a brand new series where every month we will be sharing a kitchen tip from our talented Food Coordinator, Chris Haskell.

Chris worked as Ithaca Bakery’s sandwich chef for 5 years prior to moving to Portland. In Portland he was the general manager for Dicks Kitchen, a paleo-diner before working at Pints Brewing where he was tasked with improving the menu and restaurant operations, along with opening two new concepts in Albuquergue NM, and Southeast Portland. He now comes back to us as the bakery’s Food Coordinator, bringing with him plenty of experience that we are excited to share with you!

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Chris:

I’d like to start my kitchen tips series out with the greatest advice anyone could receive if they plan on working in a kitchen. Any kitchen. Doesn’t matter if you’re in your home preparing a meal for your family or you’re the executive chef of a 3 Michelin starred restaurant: Make lists. Anthony Bourdain devotes the 1st chapter of his Les Halles cookbook to talking about list making, that’s how important, and how overlooked list making is.

Know what it is that you want to do, and what it will take to do it. This is especially important if you plan on cooking something new, or cooking for a large group. Make lists. Cooking can be overwhelming, there can be a lot to do before anything happens, sometimes just shopping for ingredients is overwhelming. Have you seen the produce section of the supermarket this time of year? Make lists of what you need, exactly what you need and how much you need of it. Follow the list, don’t over think, plan and make lists. Make lists of the lists you need to make.

Cooking at home on a budget for your family, roommates or friends? Make lists. Meal plan, make lists of the things you’d like to have this week, co-ordinate sides and entrees so that you can purchase more effectively, this will reduce what is going to be uneaten and will cut down on your prep time.  

Want to make an impression? Make a list of what you plan on cooking, make a list of the steps, make a list of what goes on the plate and where. The more you study your list, the more competent you’ll be and it will show in your final product.

I know it seems silly, or even like common sense, but you’d be surprised how few people actually take the time to really get organized when it comes to cooking. Cooking for yourself and your loved ones can be amazingly satisfying. Step 1: make lists. Cheers.

Second Grade: Interactive Chalk Drawings

ithacabakery:

Coming soon to the Kid’s Corner on Meadow street! Keep your eye out for these adorable works of chalkboard art by this group of talented little artists!

Originally posted on drydenartcity:

How awesome are these?! My second graders had a blast creating these interactive chalk pastel drawings based on one of their favorite foods. If you’re from Ithaca or have visited Ithaca, chances are you’ve stopped by Ithaca Bakery (I hope you have!), which means you’ve seen their expansive menu. We had the pleasure of working with Sara E. Fort, a local artist who creates the beautiful chalk pastel menus for the bakery as a part of her role as the bakery’s graphic designer. Sara is so incredibly talented, and the kids loved having a “real artist” in our art room!

As much as I love the final products, my favorite part of this project was witnessing the play and imagination that went on as their food drawings came to life and they pretended to interact with the artworks. Lots of laughing, lots of chalk pastel-covered hands, and a lot of proud artists!

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Triphammer Artist of the Month: NicEllis Withey

Take a look at NicEllis Withey’s work from now through August 15th at our Triphammer location!

NicEllis Withey:

How did you start painting?

Its hard to say, I can’t remember a time before I painted.  I started exhibiting at the Groton Bank’s annual art show when I was 14 and have had work in that show every year since.

Tell me something about your training and your influences.

My mother is also an artist so I started there. It was nothing formal, I just seeing a painting as something you do as opposed to a finished object.

At Cortland State I got to study with both George Dugan and Lori Ellis.  Very different teachers, but I think the best thing I learned from them both was to value painting as a way of discovering and understanding.  They just encouraged me to really work the process, and not just make a painting.  I think that it is really valuable to know that its better to learn something and ruin a painting than just to make another nice painting.

Grad school at USB was great. I got to work with a lot of really smart people and be part of a group where everybody was doing creative things.  Everybody, the professors and the grad students, were all just sort of doing what we did in a really good way.  It was a great place to develop things and start to think more professionally.

I notice you have a strong country motif. What draws you to that subject?

For me its less country and more history, the animals and chickens in particular came out of studying portraiture.  I really get into old paintings and in the 19th century portraiture was really at a high point.  I was studying the compositions and the way they handled paint and I noticed all these pastoral things happening.  That’s where I got seriously started on my landscapes and animals with Constable and George Stubbs.  Besides I’ve always liked animals and chickens are a lot of fun to have around.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio.

I have a really twisted sense of humor.

What is your favorite artwork?

That changes a lot… I look at artwork all the time and I have a new favorite practically every week.  I’m constantly just borrowing a little bit here and a little bit there from all sorts of painting.  My favorite is the painting that I’m still figuring out.  I have a few that I keep coming back to though.  Eakins had a great drawing of a nude woman seated with a cloth, sort of like a mask, on her face and I love how subtle it is.  And Rembrandt’s painting that is sometimes called the Jewish Wedding, the way he sculpted the paint and built it up.  I guess I look at paintings like a big toolbox, its hard to have a favorite tool because they all do different stuff really well.

What is your hidden talent?

I don’t know if I have a hidden talent.  I think a real talent I have is being curious… everything else just sort of comes from there.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

I suppose that would have to be my mom. She introduced me to painting, and showed me ways to think about it, and that is still what I do.