Archive for December, 2011

Never Can Say Goodbye.

December 14, 2011

Once, when I was pressed for time as well as a suitable opening sentence for an assignment, I emailed my editor to say that I had most of my article written but that I was still trying to come up with an attention grabbing lead into the story. I don’t know if it was the pressure of the deadline that he was also feeling, or if he was simply repeating back to me sound advice that had once been given to him under similar circumstances. In either case his reply was swift, and peppered by a term I’d prefer not to use at the moment. He wrote back: “What’s your story about? That’s your first sentence, [imagine deleted expletive here.]”

So as I down another cup of coffee and make mental notes about what I have to do before heading out the door today, I’ll follow his directive. If we could take this from the top, that first sentence would read “I’m delivering the last Gobba Gobba Hey gobs – ever – today!”

I’m not sure why it was so hard to write those words, especially since on many late nights and just as many early mornings, I dreamed of being able to say that. But then again, I’ve always had trouble with goodbyes. And make no mistake, this is not going to turn out to be a blog post about my first farewell batch of gobs. This is it for Gobba Gobba Hey as we knew it.

Yes, I’ll continue to post gob baking tips and even more gob recipes, but I’m definitely letting the baking business cool.

If you’ve read this blog, or bought my cookbook, or spoke to me at an event, you already know why I started baking gobs. But in the past month, I’ve had several people asking why I’m going to stop, and I hope the following explanation will suffice.

“Did it all just become too much?” was a question I was asked in an interview recently by my hometown newspaper. The answer, of course is, yes. I often felt I was in over my head, but just as often I felt a rush as I was swept along, deliriously, in the current of the scene that was developing in San Francisco back in Spring and Summer of 2009. Almost immediately I went from baking two dozen gobs at home to scaling up to several dozen in a commercial kitchen, often learning not so much from day to day, but from hour to hour. The pace was exciting. It was exhilarating to be a part of a burgeoning movement that was being created daily as other new vendors like myself stepped onto the streets to sell their wares. But it wasn’t just the people making the food who were responsible for the new scene. The food bloggers, yelpers, local media, Twitter followers and even the curious neighbors who came to see what this mobile buffet was all about, all were part of it. We all made this thing happen. And having just relocated to San Francisco several months prior, this was my new community in more ways than one.

It grew quickly into something much bigger than I’d anticipated. While perspective means being able to see where you are, and where you’ve been, it also means having the ability to see where you are going. My main goal in baking it to the streets was to eventually have material to write about, and that was always in perfect focus. But to suddenly have an enterprise to which people were turning for hundreds, and on occasion, thousands of gobs, was never anticipated. I needed help, but I wasn’t prepared to bring another person into the kitchen full time with me for many reasons.

For starters, I had to pay a rental fee for the kitchen. To have a second party in the bakery, I would incur an additional charge for having that additional body on the premises. And then of course I would need to pay that employee a salary. This was all before figuring in the cost of ingredients. I am proud to say that if you ever bought a gob from me that you consumed a product that was approximately 90% organic. To the best of my knowledge you never once ingested anything that had GMOs or pesticides. The packaging your gob came in was environmentally friendly and compostable.

Unfortunately, keeping that kind of a standard costs a lot of money; more money than a $2, then eventually $3 product that required nearly three hours of rented kitchen time for the production of three dozen, can bring in.

So it was time to turn off the ovens. This year’s Twelve Gobs of Christmas seemed like a good way to bring the past 33 months to an end.

Thank you all for your support. There are far too many of you to mention here by name, but please know that if you bought a gob, bought the resulting book, or even just stopped to chat with me to offer words of encouragement, you made a difference. People of the Bay Area, you will always hold a special place in my heart for welcoming an oddly named confection into the fold (as well as the guy who baked them!)

In looking for an appropriate song to end this post with, I was torn. “I Remember You” by The Ramones didn’t exist in a single video form, and while this song by Cheap Trick was always one of my favorites, I didn’t want to run the risk of offending anybody. I also thought about going out on this note (because how can you not love Eddie Vedder and John C Reilly? I’m listening to it now and laughing almost as much as I did the first time I saw the movie.)

So instead, I’ll use this.

And San Francisco gobsters? You can click here.

It’s been a great run. I hope to run into many of you at future food events. Look for me, this time, on the other side of the line. Until then, thank you all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have several dozens of gobs to deliver.