Gettin’ back to business

When I attended Camp Mighty last fall I went to Palm Springs armed with my Mighty Life List. At the end of camp I had several new friends, lots of inspiration and 5 specific things I chose to work on for the following year. This weekend I will officially tick off one of those five items in its entirety: Attend BlogHer Food in Austin

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. With all the changes in my life in the last three months, it’s been difficult to blog about food. Really, it’s been difficult to blog about anything but feelings and occasionally music, because for me music is an extension of feelings. But I love food and know food. People who read my blog visit my food posts most often. My full-time job is food. I want to get back in my groove. 

Austin

So, a few weeks ago I decided to bite the financial bullet and get myself together. Found a discounted ticket from a woman who was unable to attend. As I sit here I still haven’t booked my rental car or my AirBNB stay. (Do I stay for $140 3 miles away, $155 1 mile away or $170 in an Airstream fitted with a king-sized Tempurpedic?) But I have let work know I won’t be here and my kiddos have their Ninny coming to stay with them. I also have plans to visit IKEA for bargains on the way down and a friend for coffee on the way back. I’m ridiculously excited about both of those “excursions”, too. 

I feel ill-prepared to visit BlogHer Food because my food blogging is so dormant right now, but I am trusting my intuition that this food blogging immersion will reinspire my creativity. Plus, it will be fun to reconnect with the bloggers I’ve met at Camp Mighty and The Ranch. Also, I’m also confident I’ll bring back ideas, connections and inspiration for my non-blogging work life. Everyone wins!

Giving myself this inspiration feels good. Going back to Austin for a do-over feels good, too. 

Beginning SXSW

The night I arrived in Austin my friend Lanie and her coworkers let me tag along to dinner. It was good to gather myself up and pretend to be a human for an evening. Out in public. We walked from the parking garage to the the convention center to get our badges, then to the restaurant. 

In.

What do you call it when you walk past a specific place where you had a specific memory? Or hear a specific song? Or taste a specific wine? Let’s call them ghosts. I saw about three ghosts, heard about six and one or two were mentioned in dinner conversation. I held it together nice and tidy like a champ. I was the valedictorian of post break-up composure. All on the outside, of course. 

The first day of the conference was overwhelming. I read somewhere that 40,000 people officially attend SXSW when it’s all said and done, plus all the extra people in Austin to support the conference. 

So. Many. Peoples.

We had met up with my friend Blake for lunch at one of my favorite Austin spots, Home Slice. Of course it was full of ghosts, too. Loaded. It was where we had watched showcases the previous 2 years. But the pizza was good and the company better.  

This. Is. Perfect.After lunch we headed downtown. We saw a bunny van. I Vined it. I don’t know how to embed Vine…

Once we arrived to the downtown area I realized that the session I wanted to attend in 20 minutes was so far away it required a shuttle that was a 10 minute walk from where I was. And thus began the struggle to actually participate at SXSW. I wandered aimlessly with my head in my phone, scouring the conference app looking for ANYTHING to sit in on. Something that 500 people hadn’t already beat me to (which would turn out to be a common occurrence that week). I stopped to cry behind my glasses then shook myself enough to keep moving and eventually found something to attend that wasn’t terribly far away on foot. It was called, “#ageofdamage: Be the Company You Want to Keep” presented by David Jones, Co-founder of One Young World and author of Who Cares, Wins. With my iPad open I “scribbled” notes and listened to his talk. Some of the nuggets I took away were things related to what he calls Radical Transparency. He said that the Industrial Revolution empowered companies and that we are in the age of a Social Revolution that is empowering people. People don’t expect perfection but they do expect honesty and transparency from companies. He shared a case study of Patagonia that was fascinating. Here’s an article that gives a nice overview: Don’t Buy This Jacket.

 From there I headed over to “How to Rank Better in Google & Bing” where, literally, 1,200 people beat me to a chair. At least. I bounced next door to a presentation from PBS that showcased a crowdsharing video service they had developed. Neat, but not terribly useful for me. A good spot to recharge all of my devices, though…something one always needs to be on the lookout at a technology-heavy conference. From there I missed “Technology, Imagination & Exponential Thinking” but got incredibly lucky upon my return as I learned it was filmed and made available online. Carve out an hour and have your mind blown.

 I sulked at the failure of the day. A year and a half ago when I learned I was coming to SXSW ’13, I thought I’d be storming the castle of awesome. Back to back to back sessions of genius-level techy brain food. Instead, I attended one session that was useful to me. I worried that each day would be like this. 

But they weren’t. They got better. 

The next day I put on my Chucks, went downstairs and pulled a Twitterati move to rescue my peers and I who were marooned at our outlying hotel. 

Then I summoned The Universe for Amanda Palmer. The Universe provided.

 

Then I attended a session on Creativity and the brain.

Then I went to the Google House and got free food and swag.

Then I went to some other place and got more free food and beer.

A little later I shook the hand of Al Gore.

Then even later I saw Band of Horses at the Samsung Galaxy Experience launch party.

Then EVEN later I pushed past a doorman and three hundred people to join my friend Jessica at the Gary Vaynerchuk secret wine party.

 

Then I decided not to temp fate. I sloshed through the rain and caught my hotel shuttle at 1:30am, went to bed and slept…hard. For the first time, in a long time, I had a GOOD day.

Let’s talk about Kitchen No. 324 in Oklahoma City

So, for the last 6 to 8 weeks I’ve been totally owned by a new restaurant in downtown Oklahoma City called Kitchen No. 324. I mean, OWNED.

I work for A Good Egg Dining Group, the company that designed and operates the restaurant. Not only do I work for them, I orchestrate their public relations (and marketing, advertising, social media, etc…). I do other stuff as needed and during restaurant openings, I tend to help get all the folks there for the soft opening. Then as they are enjoying their experience, I take photos and tweet the bejeezus out of the event. And Facebook, of course. It’s a gift. Here are some of my favorite pics from the last month.

When you walk in the door you see this, our glorious visual menu.
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Then you walk to the right and order.
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Once you’ve paid and got your table number you turn, walk past the open kitchen and find a table somewhere in here.
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Seating is nearly community seating style. That’s on purpose. We’re a community, y’all! What better way to get acquainted then to share a meal! But, it is still separate…in case you need your space. Oh, look! Here’s a table…
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From here I can sip my tea…
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Or we have kick-ass Coffee Curators if you are into that sort of thing…
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And wait for your food. If it’s breakfast time, these might land on your table…
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This is how I do the yogurt.

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I have eaten them all. I have died a thousand tiny deaths as I ate them all. Sometimes daily, which is why I’m eating like this right now.
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That meal is also something I cobbled together from Kitchen No. 324. It was my breakfast yesterday: avocado, roasted brussels sprouts with hazelnuts, shaved asparagus and arugula with preserved lemon vinaigrette and green tea. And the book behind the detoxing madness, Clean by Alejandro Junger, M.D. All sold at Kitchen No. 324.

And if you happen to be having lunch, this could be headed to your table…
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FRESH salads!

Braised short ribs from @kitchen324. #potroaststyle

Which is to say there are lots of salads, braises and sandwiches on the lunch menu. So many. But maybe you are in a super hurry and just want “a little something”? Skip the main ordering line and pop over to the coffee counter. You can get any kind of nerdy coffee you want and one of these…
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My favorite thing by far about Kitchen No. 324 is the people I’ve encountered. It’s rare for me to spend a ton of time at the actual restaurants. I’m mostly at the home office on my computer. But when a restaurant opens I get to be alongside our stellar staff and management team, who are a real treat to see in action.
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And then there’s the public. Lots of beautiful faces of friends, employees at different restaurants in the company and brand-new regulars.
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And hooligans.
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Kitchen No. 324 is located at 324 N. Robinson in downtown Oklahoma City. A Good Egg Dining Group didn’t sponsor this post but they do sponsor my paycheck every two weeks and give me lots of food. I think that’s deserving of a post. :-)

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