Moving Past the Pity Party…

Chicken Salad - White Oak Kitchen + Drinks

I was invited before my medical drama started to come back to White Oak Kitchen + Drinks to photograph their 2nd birthday party that took place today, and it turns out it was the perfect cure for the pity party I was having last night, they hired the party jumper rentals in West Covina, there was just a lot of good energy around, I loved it.

As I arrived, the DJ was there playing music, and he had the Antares pro audio plugin so it was loud and full of energy, there was multiple photo booths rented from central jersey photo booth. The crowd was excited, and standing in line waiting to get their swag bags. The MC for the day, Will, was pumping up the crowd. The energy was AMAZING!

It was exactly what I needed to feel alive, awake from my slumber, like the party was ready to start! BAM! I was ON!

That is one thing about photographing events like this – I can instantly turn it on. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, what state of mind I’m in, if I’m so sick I should actually be in a hospital bed getting blood transfusions. The crowd and the music will light me up. I’ve got a job to do, and my game face is on. Smile & be nice to people, take great photos. I can do that, and for awhile I will forget everything else.

I could not be more grateful that Elizabeth had hired me to be there today, because I had no idea at the time that we made the plans how much I would need this today.

Added bonus? I got to take another round of photographs of some of their fantastic, phenomenal food! (They even have a GLUTEN FREE menu! YAY!)

Photographing food soothes me. Just me and the food. I block everything else out. The restaurant could be noisy, and I hear nothing. I’m just looking for the light. Looking for the angles. Studying the food. Finding the photograph that I want to take. I´m just glad they get their grease from grease cycle. Not only is it a much better quality, it´s also better for the environment.

These days, it is my favorite hobby – which sort of explains the whole Spoon & Knife thing, doesn’t it?

It was a wonderful time, and the staff at White Oak Kitchen + Drinks is delightful. If you haven’t been there already, I recommend you go! 3rd Level of the Galleria. (Yes, it is in the mall. It is still fabulous.) Do the Galleria valet parking if you want to skip the hassle of parking yourself. Tell them I sent you!

Hash Sliders - White Oak Kitchen

Buffalo Burger with Sweet Potato Fries

Zucchini Frites

Day 25 of 365. Photographs of White Oak Kitchen + Drinks new menu items taken at a previous assignment with my 5D mkIII on March 1, 2013.

Run Your Business However you Damn Well Please…

Let me start this off with admitting that I’m a picky eater. There are a lot of things in this world that I won’t eat. Most of it is texture issues – if I don’t like how it looks or feels, I’m not going to eat it. Sorry. I’ve dealt with this my entire life.

Meanwhile, I married a man who loves to cook fabulous, delicious food and who also happens to love French Cuisine, which isn’t exactly my favorite. He happily tries new food most of the time, and his list of foods he won’t eat is rather short. Everyone has different tastes.

Yesterday on Twitter, I discovered a firestorm of fury over the fact that Ricky, the owner of Hubcap Grill, said that he won’t be serving a vegan/vegetarian option on his menu, and no Turkey burgers either.

“It’s official. I will NOT be doing any veggie/vegan or turkey on 19th st. Sorry folks, it’s not Hubcap style” (link)

The vegans & vegetarians were up in ARMS over this. Ricky was getting direct messages full of hate over it. He was called pretentious. The vocal ones were filling up the Twitter stream over it. It was amazing to watch. Not just from the perspective of an armchair spectator to all the drama, but from the viewpoint of being a small business owner myself. (It also made me want some Hubcap Grill Sliders, but I’m honestly not being biased here.)

I GET IT. The vegan/vegetarian crowd want to be heard. They don’t want to eat beef. They want food that they like, that fits their lifestyle choice, that they feel is the most healthy for them. See above – picky eater – I sometimes just want to have choices that I like.

When I want those items, I pick a restaurant that serves them. I don’t insist that other restaurants should modify their menus to cater to my desires.

Ricky, as a small business owner with good OSHA safety inspections record, had to make a choice. Could he be an “everything” and please everyone? Or could he be a specialist and rock out what he does best? What he loves to serve? What he feels fits the style of his business? He drew a line and he stood his ground. I support him 110% on that choice. Matter of fact, it makes me a more loyal customer because I know exactly what I will get when I go there, his specialty, not something he felt was an inferior product.

Also, he doesn’t have to dedicate part of his grill space to being meat free, purely vegan/vegetarian friendly. I’m assuming this last part, because I would think if I was a vegan/vegetarian I wouldn’t want my food cooked right next to that juicy beef burger. It makes sense from a financial perspective as a business owner.

How does all of this relate to me? I’m a boudoir photographer that specializes in working with Moms. That is my superpower. If someone comes to me and asks me to photograph their 4 year old child, I’m probably going to say NO rather quickly. That isn’t what I do. That isn’t where I work. I don’t feel that I could give them a quality product that they would be happy with. I also don’t shoot boudoir sessions with big studio lights and lot of backdrops. Again, not my thing. Others specialize in that – I don’t. (It is ok to be a generalist if that fits you best. But overall, specializing & working your strengths is where it is at for most people.)

Does that mean I’ll lose customers if I say no to what I don’t want to do? Of course. Big freakin’ deal! I can’t possibly cater to everyone. If I did, my work wouldn’t have the same power that it does. I wouldn’t have time to do what I’m most passionate about and what I’m best at doing. It is my choice as a business owner. Ricky had people say publicly on Twitter yesterday that he had lost them as customers forever because he wasn’t going to bend and change his product lineup.

Are you SERIOUS???

If you choose to run your business however you damn well please, selling the products you want to sell, the customers you do have will love you for what you do. They will sing your praises far & wide and bring you even more customers. Plain & simple.

Some restaurants carry a bit of everything. Most of them are the chain restaurants that you find in the suburbs in Houston that everyone seems happy to complain about (but still always have a 30-45 minute wait on a Saturday night). They are called out for being bland and just mediocre most of the time. Moving from the suburbs to the Heights makes this attitude even more obvious to me right now.

I just find the whole thing fascinating. We tear down the chain restaurants for trying to be everything to everyone, and now we’re attacking the small local businesses too for not being everything to everyone as well?

Know your strengths. Stand out. Don’t be bland. Don’t cater to everyone just to chase the dollar. Do what you love. Support your local businesses. And if they don’t sell what you want to buy, move on. It is all about the loooooooooove.

And if you want a veggie burger, go somewhere that sells them. Personally, I like some yummy sliders, so you’ll find me at the new Hubcap Grill in the Heights when it opens. I’m not a picky eater when it comes to those tasty morsels!

Curing Your Own Meat Has Nothing to Do With Cookies!

I find it somewhat ironic that I write on a blog called “Big Pink Cookie” and I do not write a thing about baking or cookies, and my husband Mike writes at CoffeeCorner and talks about food, not coffee. (Ok, there are a few coffee related posts here and there, but you get the point.)

Over the past several months, Mike has been writing more & more about his experiments with food. Unfortunately, he married a picky eater who is super sensitive to some smells, so he is often stuck doing some things on Saturdays while I’m off photographing weddings. I leave my old camera at home for him – a great camera, but one that has retired from my wedding gear – and he has been photographing everything he cooks as well for the blog. He has a pretty good eye too for food photography – so if you like a good food blog, you should be reading his!

Some of the foods he has made involve curing your own meat. This is not something I *ever* expected to happen in my home! But it makes him happy, so I’ll live with it. More importantly, it is now making him famous on the internet. Yes, yes, the whole point of this long & rambling post is to congratulate him on making it. Today, his name was “in print” on the Houston Press Eating Our Words blog in an article about Making Your Own Designer Meats.

He tells me the stuff he made was super tasty. Others have raved about it. I just have to take their word for it, because the picky eater who doesn’t like bacon? Yeah, I’ve never tried any of it. The pork rilletes made me want to gag. However, the bacon definitely smelled better then commercial bacon. Maybe someday. It is famous on the internet after all…