12/12/2013 10:32 am ET Updated Feb 11, 2014

Bad Business Makes Great Food

Were I to enroll in a class called "Business Management," I would most assuredly receive an F.

I know so little about the proper terms and procedures of corporate America that when a pal of mine talked about waiting for her company's "IT" guys, I assumed she was referring to really good looking men. You know, "it" guys... not computer geeks. This is not to say there is anything unsexy about geeks, just making the point.

The same pal asked me if I did a quarterly review on my staff. I answered confidently, "Yes! A few times a year, I tell them, 'Hey, you're kicking butt!'"

This is, of course, only if they are. If they are not kicking butt, I might say something like, "Did you die last Tuesday and forget to tell me about it?"

What I tell clients is perhaps even less amenable to proper corporate sales procedure.

Typical phone conversation between me and a nervous bride-to-be who is calling around trying to find a wedding caterer:

Bride: "So how much will you charge me for the bar?"

Me: "Far too much. Why don't you buy your own booze and save the money."

Bride: "Excuse me?"

Me: "I don't have the energy to get into the liquor business."

Bride: "Well... um what kind of food do you make?"

Me: "Anything except incredibly boring classical French cuisine."

Bride: "But ..."

Me: "Look, there are thousands of chefs out there who can do that. How many can mix white trash, Jewish, Caribbean and Thai? If you do insist I cook chicken cordon bleu, I'll do it, but I'll have to charge you extra for being bored."

The result is generally a shocked but laughing bride who wants to schedule a meeting.

It's not as though I sat down and decided to be so blunt because it's an effective sales tool; I just don't have a choice.

"Thou shalt not lie!" my mother drummed into my soul at a formative age. The result? Honey, let's just say I never play poker.

I can't sell what I don't believe in.

Food starts with F, as do other items that I regard as MUST HAVE ingredients in food, such as Fun, Fabulous, Flirty and Fantastic.

We were not meant to sit down to our meal and feel bored!

A pal of mine once dragged me to a corporate networking event, and by the way, (groan!). A slew of catering sales reps circled me as if I were a strange new animal that had wandered into their herd and, well, I was!

"We heard you still cook!" they chanted.

"You have to step out of the kitchen and dedicate yourself to sales if you're going to succeed."

"If I stop making sauces, I stop having fun!" I announced, practically in a scream!


"Yes. You know, the thing that makes it all worthwhile."

"I have a 401 K that makes it worthwhile," one of the men in the group announced.

"I've got a Roth IRA!"

I'd like to say that I firmly but gently impressed upon these unfortunates just exactly how NOT fun they sounded. But just then, a waiter with a tray of cosmopolitans was heading in the opposite direction, and, well, a girl's got to have her priorities.