big news

Hello, internet foodie pals.

Some big news for you today. Here’s the note I wrote to my clients about it, then let’s talk about what it means for this little blog, OK?

I write to you today with some big news. After nine years of running the meal delivery service, I’ve made the sad decision to shut the business down in 2011. I’ve so enjoyed the cooking for you all these years, but these days running two businesses is getting to be just too much, and something has to give. So, I’ll be focusing on chocolates full time starting in January.

I feel sorry to stop cooking for such amazing clients–you’re all so incredibly wonderful, it’s been an honor making healthy food for you and your families. Some of you have been eating my inventions (and occasional flops) for 6+ years, and that kind of loyalty–the fact that I’ve never put in one ad for the meal delivery and that over 60% of my business came from word-of-mouth advertising—is so heartening. However, it’s time to focus on new challenges.

So there we are. It’s all very exciting—sad, exhilarating, and liberating, all at once. The meal delivery service was my baby for so many years—I started it with negative capital (lots of debt, in fact) and it not only taught me to cook (I went to cooking school, but in truth I’m much better at teaching myself, so the first three or so years were serious on-the-job training—I still blush to think about some of the wrecks I sent off every week. At one point I had so few containers that when I ran out one time I gave a client an entree in a reused plastic take out dessert container shaped for a pie slice.), it gave me financial stability, confidence, endless challenges, discipline, hundreds of 12-15-hour work days, and, if I do say so myself, an astonishing amount of business acumen for a former English and Women’s Studies major who at one point couldn’t tell you the difference between gross and net income to save her life.

I also had the honor of meeting some incredibly wonderful, and, sometimes, wonderfully bizarre clients. I haven’t done the deliveries myself for about five years, but in the early years when I’d stay up all night cooking then make my shaky way into NYC for those hellish 20 deliveries* I got to know most of my clients. Most of them were true sweethearts (and in truth I kicked them off the schedule if they were not a good fit for the service–I almost always had a waiting list for the meals. It was just as important for me to enjoy cooking for someone as it was for them to enjoy my cooking.), but there were a fair amount of straight-up nuts mixed in too—the woman who had only nail polish in her refrigerator, the guy who told me he never refrigerated the meals (!!!!), the longtime client who was perennially two weeks behind with the meals (no preservatives! I shudder to think!). The supermodel, the political wonk with his own show on CNN, the actress, the famous painter, the hundreds of strivers and stressed professionals.

Oh, and all the trends: first the Atkins, then the wheat-free, then the gluten-free, and the Macro peeps, and the raw freaks, the beet haters, Brussels sprouts avoiders, and the fat phobic. I’ve really developed my e-mail diplomacy skills over these years, and I’ve turned almost all the beet and Brussels haters into devout fans.

I have dinner party stories for the rest of my life, that’s for sure. But what I loved the most were my core crew—those clients who truly understood and appreciated the quirky way I cook. It’s not for everyone, but it was for them, and for that I’m profoundly grateful.

This weird little made-up job carried me through my twenties, and I honestly don’t know what I would have done without it. After a nervous breakdown engendered by witnessing the events of September 11, 2001 at way too close range, I followed my sweetheart on tour in Europe (he tours with indie rock bands as a sound engineer and tour manager) and thought about what I wanted from my fragile little life. I wanted to follow my own rules, be my own boss, and make people happy with my cooking. When I got home I designed a flier and a website, and started with four clients. With no capital, even less business sense, and, to be honest, very little cooking skills, things went slowly. But in time I was able to quit my part-time job working at my old cooking school, and the glorious freedom of working for myself has never diminished. I became a much better cook, too!

Anyway, enough sappy rambling.

This change doesn’t mean I’ll be going away from this blog–far from it. Though I won’t have weekly menu photos, I will be be doing lots and lots of chocolate testing which I will be sharing, and, after nine years of cooking in quantity, I’m really excited to cook for my my sweetheart and myself every night (and since 2011 is going to be a big touring year for him I’ll probably be eating alone a lot too)–I’m planning on posting all about the little excitements of cooking for two (or one) after so many years of cooking for 20. We rarely ate anything except what I cooked for my clients, so this is a whole new world for me. If anything I’m sure I’ll be posting here more, since it will feel less like work and more like foodie fun.

(Also, I still have a lot of meal delivery photo posting to catch up on in the next few weeks!)

Yours,

Lagusta

*Driving through Times Square on no sleep? Not the best idea in the world. The BQE? Downright suicidal. I used to take naps on the Thruway rest stops on the way home–one time I woke up to find a grizzled old trucker staring at me drooling from about one foot away. “Howdy,” he said, politely. That’s when I decided I needed a delivery person (actually—I think I decided that the day I got **three** parking tickets in a row, one for pulling over to ask a cop a question which I prefaced with “Can I stop here to ask you something really quick? I know it’s a bus stop but I am so incredibly lost.” She very kindly gave me directions to get me out of the tangle of Queens I was in, then casually wrote me a ticket. “You can’t park in a bus lane, honey, what were you thinking?” I wasn’t parked, I was stopped for 30 seconds!), and I’ve been blessed with amazing ones ever since. Except for the one very easy-going and perhaps overly relaxed pal of mine, who returned from his first day with shaky hands and that look in his eyes of one who has never truly looked Manhattan traffic in the eye before. “I…might have….underestimated how…ah…stressful that was going to be.” He said. You and me both, honey. I learned after that to only hire women delivery people, and they’ve never failed me.

5 thoughts on “big news

  1. I am so happy for you! I know this is an ending, but it is such a bigger and better beginning! Can’t wait to see what the future brings!

  2. Dear Lagusta,
    Though we haven’t ordered in some while, we enjoyed the meals we received from you very much. Though we have not drastically changed our diet, your meals have influenced us somewhat….and for that, we thank you!
    Judy and Alex (who really liked your tofu)

  3. Pingback: Spicy Szechuan Peanut Noodles « Lagusta's Luscious!

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