Shifting Gears and Progress
This post was originally written to be posted October 12, but was edited later to clarify the raw thoughts.
Last time I was here, my focus was on finishing assignments—so my original research plan was focused on Beerio, my craft beer notebook, and how I might iterate on that.
My, how things have changed.
Focusing on Something New
I decided that blithely following the instructions of the class and completing an assignment on its face wasn’t really working for my own exploration—and I’ve been feeling Beerio doesn’t exactly require research right now.
We had a guest critique, the wonderful Leyla Acaroglu, and it was decided: that’s not the project I want to present, and that I needed to take a different direction.
So I took my different idea, about public spaces, and made a change in a direction that felt more appealing to me—around food, dining and chefs.
As I was preparing for this critique, I got an email from SCRATCHbread, which announced its closing, and got inspired. Owner Matthew Tilden’s project was one of the first things I backed on Kickstarter, and had always believed in the mission behind his business.
In the email, he talked about burnout and the gap between where he wanted to be and where he was—and how it was no longer sustainable for him to be doing it:
“This business works, but not like this. Just one investor would have changed everything […] a partner would have made things smarter”
I thought his story would help anchor my talk about this thesis idea, and also give me some clarity on what my direction was.
My thesis idea was evolving to be about getting chefs into a space that might give them a chance to experiment with new techniques or styles that they may not do in their day job, and perhaps be a gathering space for people in the neighborhood. Ideas like perhaps day and evening service, or a café and prep/cook stations.
In reality, it wasn’t as clarifying—and using examples of SCRATCHbread and describing other similar spaces like Threes Brewing mostly stood to show what my thing was not, rather than what it is. I was telling, not showing, which wasn’t helping matters either.
Even if the critique sounds a little harsh, it was a helpful guidepost—it forced me remap my project and figure out a better way to describe it.
A New Plan & More Research
So with my new direction and critique, I tried to develop a new research plan and get more feedback. Here was the new idea:
- Seek out professionals working in the field
- Ask about other existing solutions, things that share the same space
- Find out if there are unaddressed gaps in the market
A good friend of mine who used to be in the New York food scene provided a helpful interview. As we talked, he bounced ideas about other existing models that work to various degrees of success.
Based on his feedback, I’m now looking at two different ideas:
- A space for chefs to experiment without the overhead of needing both commercial kitchen space and a storefront or truck of some sort
- A sort of “learning grocery” that teaches about ingredients, perhaps bringing more of the full farm-to-table experience to a broader audience
We’ll see how this works out.