A few years back our lead server was conducting a beverage program introduction class for new servers. I happened to be hanging around, eating lunch, and listening in. As she was describing varietal characteristics of our wines, I was hit with a thought – in the ten years we’ve been at this, I don’t recall any of our staff ever asking me, “why craft?” Why are we killing ourselves to make everything from scratch? (Even our ketchup is house made.)
Before the Red Door, I had a wine business, selling small production wines from across the world to restaurants and retailers. I had the opportunity to meet countless dedicated professionals and true artisans; from winemakers to farmers. Listening to their stories, I learned what made them strive for greatness; and I came up with an analogy for craft wine versus big production wine. It fits perfectly to explain the “why” behind our commitment to craft food and beverages. Pretend for a moment that you are tasked with making homemade spaghetti sauce – one large pot for 12 people. You need to make the highest-quality sauce you can. You have access to heirloom tomatoes. You can even walk through a garden and select the perfect tomatoes to meet your specifications. You have the time you need to pick and prep your fruit and ready it for sauce production. You have your family’s secret recipe and you feel great about being able to make the (subjectively) perfect sauce. That’s the craft side. Big brands need fields of tomatoes; to harvest, they need machines to gather the fruit. In this process, they can’t help but also include under-ripened fruit, rotten fruit, and the occasional bird’s nest of “other biologics, but not fruit.” In the same time frame, they are using swimming pool sized vessels instead of your large pot to make their sauce. In order to compensate for the variables of machine harvesting, they need to use additives to kill contaminants and then concentrates to balance the acidity and sweetness of the product.
The same can be said of most large production processes; whether it’s wine, beer, or food. I wanted to bring the integrity of product that I saw from small wine producers to what would become the Red Door. I wanted the Red Door to be a place that allows our guests to have an exceptional dining experience while enjoying the comfort of quality time with the people they are sharing a table with.