Thursday, December 21, during the movement of Winter Solstice. Earth’s tilt favors increasing sunlight; a season passed, a season followed.
As soon as I sat down with John at Heirloom Café, the popular source for locally groomed sustenance in the lower level of the Wexner Center for the Arts on the Ohio State campus, I was somehow detoured off the linear line of questioning I had prepared.
John tastefully started our engagement by positioning fresh herbs from his garden onto the table by my cup of coffee… in order- parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
John and his “ally in this world,” Kimberly, birthed Heirloom in 2011, with a mission to support and promote the harvest of local growers, and have created relationships with many of the people they source from. Authentic food, much of which is harvested from the Heirloom Urban Garden that they started in 2014.
At this point this interview was securely in the hands of John, non-linear in its character, and I joined along as he prepped our experience. When asked to name my four favorite ingredients, I didn’t pause but a few seconds…”jalapeno chilies, garlic, dark chocolate and salt.”
When asked where his favorite place is to enjoy a good meal, he will answer, “my house.” John can turn any conversation into a talk about food. His language is peppered with words commonly associated with cooking, e.g., “recipe, seasoned,” but applied in a context that could also work outside the kitchen, in our daily travels and activities. “The proof is in the EATING of the pudding.” He taught me the word “umami,” and claims, “Menus are the most important document of any restaurant, any time.” Not a culinary program graduate, he learned from the school of hard knocks. As a consequence of an injury in 2015, he has lost his sense of smell, but he still remembers the culinary properties of herbs as he cooks.
John is a veteran of the US Navy, as an operations specialist, and is a passionate advocate for veterans and the National Veterans Memorial & Museum that will open in Franklinton in 2018. “If I could meet anyone in history, it would be Sun-Tzu ,“ credited with composing The Art of War. The recipe for LEADERSHIP, in John’s seasoned experience, includes learning, humility, curiosity, adaptability and an openness to new experiences. “We’re in charge.” He handed me a sheet of principles that equally apply in a restaurant kitchen as much as in a board room or on a battlefield. His work force requires SIMPLICITY, FLEXIBILITY, LEGITIMACY, an OBJECTIVE, an OFFENSIVE plan, with MASS, ECONOMY of force, SECURITY, PERSEVERANCE, and SURPRISE.
As we brought our interview to a close, John added a sprig of dessert for me to take home with my collection of herbs, that is, chamomile flowers. THANK YOU! John.
And THANK YOU, readers, for clicking on to these “CAFFEINE COMMUNIONS.”
Please add your comments in the box below; any review or critique is welcome.
Let me know if I may interview you, in the box below or directly to me at email@example.com or (614) 440-1445.
And don’t miss a single interview, by clicking the “Email Subscription” box up top.