Reflecting on 10 Years
Dear friends, colleagues, and supporters,
We hope this letter finds you well. We write you today as we have come upon 10 years together at The Restaurant at Meadowood -- more time than either of us have ever worked or lived anywhere. We began here as kids, ages 28 and 30 (we’ll let you guess who’s older), with far more ambition than sense. We are now fathers and husbands, with slightly more sense (although probably even more ambition…). Confronting this anniversary creates an opportunity for reflection in a métier that rarely allows for it.
Our farm is the beating heart of what we do -- both practically, as it provides the products and inspiration that drive our menus, and metaphorically; year after year, we amend and till the soil, plant and harvest. Different people come to help in these efforts, moving here for a few years then moving on, carrying with them a seed of this place. There are days of rain and drought, and even days of fire. Yet the ground calls to be tilled, just as our work awaits us in The Restaurant each day. And while after these many years, it can still be said to be the same dirt, as it is the same restaurant, it is obviously more. It contains now the souls of all of these people and their work. Its value cannot be fully understood by even the most astute; there is too much that has gone into all of this. There are whole lives in this dirt. There are things growing from seeds planted a decade ago… show us stars and rankings and lists, and we will show the breadth of peoples from all over the world, hearts and eyes wide open, engaged in common pursuit. We will show you poetry and industry.
How many cooks and captains, somms and gardeners make up this loam? What could any of this be without them?
And yet we live in a world of the bright and shiny, where we celebrate with a fervor all that is new and novel. We often mistake the loudest voices as the most eloquent. As a restaurant we try to live, as we say, “above the fray.” We are deliberately insular in our processes, choosing as best we can to focus on our vision, our mission, and to attempt to distill said vision into something that we can call our own. What can we do, we ask ourselves, that no one else can? We fail as often as we succeed; we are always almost there. When asked how things are going at The Restaurant, we tend to reply, “it’s getting good…” There is no false modesty there -- we approach this undertaking each day never believing that it is yet good enough. Almost there. We put more into this place than the emotional math would tell us is reasonable. We redesigned The Restaurant twice, changed everything from plateware to tablesettings to every possible system and procedure more times than one can count, all in an effort to be the best version of this thing.
We are a tiny place, in a small town, off the beaten path even in an area that sees its share of visitors. We’ve long banged the drum and shouted into the wind -- proud of what we do and always believing that this work deserves its place amongst the best in the world. 10 years in, we believe that more than ever.
Our guests often thank us for a meal or experience. Yet it is we who are most thankful to you, for by allowing us the chance to take care of each of you, you in turn have given us the chance to pursue our dreams. You are the embodiment and the recipient of our efforts. We thank you for sticking with us as we have evolved, for not expecting a dish enjoyed in years past to still be around; for foregoing a printed menu and embracing the flavor of a daylily. You have accepted our belief that one can’t step in the same river twice, and yet you remain willing to take the plunge with us.
To all of you who reside now in the soul of this place, alongside the multitudes who have been honored to serve you, we thank you for a great 10 years and look forward to welcoming you back soon. Until then, know that we will continue to work diligently to improve, always, and will be almost ready by the time you arrive.
Christopher and Nathaniel