Friday, August 13, 2010

The Summit Dessert Program – Roll Call

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For the last couple of months, I have been playing around with the idea of trying something unique for our dessert program at The Summit.  I had considered all of the following options: 1) taking on that piece of the menu myself in a limited state, 2) hiring a pastry chef and 3) outsourcing the items made.  I liked the control aspect for all three of the items, but I hated the time commitment for 1) and I worried about the payroll/motivation aspect of 2) and questioned the quality/creativity issues with 3).  Since then, I started to develop an idea that I am now trying to install into our new space.

One of the primary philosophies and themes of The Summit revolves around the general premise that we want to be an incubator space and meeting point for the creation of ideas – a concept that is depicted with one of our signature campaign posters with our “MM” (four even pointed mountain tops) logo and a light bulb.  And, in this spirit of incubation and creation, I started playing with the possibility of having an incubated dessert program.

At first I thought the idea was fairly interesting, but I wasn’t sure how we’d exactly fit the bill in terms of logistics.  Sometimes ideas are sexier in a raw and primal state, but there is always the potential of a pitfall when we need to bring them to fruition.  I set out to logically create a structure for how we would work out this system and began to find ways to make the concept an appealing one to serious pastry/dessert chefs.  Ideally, a rotating/incubator dessert chef program offers the ability to 1) showcase otherwise unknown talents of pastry chefs who may or may not be interested in starting/drawing attention to their own new/existing ventures, 2) generate a buzz and devoted interest into a commonly overlooked part of the meal experience and 3) enable The Summit to be a catalyst for a unique and evolving dessert program.  

Here are a few of the rough and unfinished details for how I envision our dessert program:

1. Pastry/dessert chefs will commit to create their signature desserts and serve them in our space for 3-4 months at a time.

2. During this time, they will have creative control for what they serve and how much they would charge.

3. The Summit would exclusively feature and serve their desserts after dinner service for all night shifts that go past 12 AM.  Desserts can and likely will also be served throughout dinner service.

4. One of the guidelines is that The Summit expects that the production of all desserts adheres to the California Code of local/sustainable whenever possible.

5. The dessert chef will have space, storage, use of facility and access to accomplish all aspects of making/prepping their desserts.

6. To properly launch each dessert program, The Summit will likely hold a initial introductory launch party for the new "tenant."

Of course there will be more details and specified conditions to be worked out for each new chef, but I'd like to present the basic idea and spread the word to all interested pastry chefs (currently working in a restaurant space or not) who might want to branch out or feature their work in a different arena or neighborhood.  While this model may seem a bit more unusual (and hopefully intriguing) than hiring a dessert chef, I am also cautious about its sustainability in the long run.  If successful, I believe this could be exciting and rewarding to the right dessert chef and to the dining public.

So, now that you’ve heard my thoughts on the matter, I guess I’d have to say that this is the official roll call.  All interested parties can contact me at eddie@thesummit-sf.com.  I would be happy to provide answers, timelines and more specifics. 

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