Thursday, January 2, 2014

Introduction to The Spice House Challenge

This challenge started when one of our members was talking to one of the staff at The Spice House. Why was Diana talking to Paige that day? Because Diana is a regular customer of The Spice House. So she said, "hey Paige, y'all should totally do a challenge with 37 Cooks." That's actually my version...Diana would never say y'all and totally! Nevertheless, the conversation progressed and when Diana talked to Gary and me about it, and she went on and on about how much she loved The Spice House. Gary was thrilled. I was happy, but since I didn't realize how much I would come to love The Spice House, at that point I wasn't doing cartwheels yet.

So then we set up a compelling challenge for our cooks. Like the rest of them, I received my spice choices. Before cooking with them, I opened one bottle at a time and let the aromas hit me. Freshness - check. I looked at the contents of each one. High quality - check. And then I ordered more spices that had nothing to do with the 37 Cooks Challenge. And then I ordered more. And more. And now our spice drawer - yes, drawer - is on it's way to being 100% filled with spices from The Spice House. So yes, now I am turning cartwheels, just like Diana and just like Gary.

The owners of The Spice House, Tom and Patty Erd, are second generation spice merchants. Their business was founded by Patty's parents, Ruth and Bill Penzey, Sr., in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1957. Patty grew up working in the shop (to Patty, as a child it seemed a pretty torturous way to earn an allowance, but her perception has vastly changed about the business since she became an owner!) The senior Penzeys sold the business to their firstborn child and son-in-law in 1992, as they looked toward retirement. The credit for the creation of The Spice House, its principles and its dedication to quality, goes wholeheartedly to Bill and Ruth Penzey. You can read more about The Spice House and Tom and Patty Erd on The Spice House website and I encourage you to do just that.

Because of the makeup of our group, I'm sure you can imagine it's a challenge communicating with 37 people who live all over the United States and Canada. Most of our communication is done online. Tom and Patty Erd are big proponents of in-person or on the phone communication and I respect them for that. Willie and I have committed to meeting with the cooks in person as often as possible. It might actually be a bigger challenge for us than our cooking challenges in 2014, as our members are far-flung (not to mention that since 37 Cooks is not a business, there is no budget for these excursions.) 

All of us at 37 Cooks are really excited for what will come in 2014. The Spice House Challenge kicks off our 2014 year of challenges and on behalf of all of us at 37 Cooks - a big thank you to Tom, Patty, and Paige! Your generosity has been transformed into some great recipes and we hope you like them!


No comments:

Post a Comment