This past Tuesday was Yelp’s Winter Food Festival and quite the day.
There was a detailed plan of to-dos and checklist to make sure that all things ran smoothly.
The plan was to serve both savory and sweet options to an audience of 99% French people – which meant 99% of the people would have no clue what kale is, so the offerings had to be convincing. Kale chips, kale pesto with baguette and kale smoothies with banana, apple, dates and coconut milk seemed like intriguing but safe options as an introduction to kale-virgins.
A week before I ordered 24 bunches of curly green and Tuscan kale from Terroir d’Avenirs (who is the main kale supplier for the few restaurants in Paris that have served kale). They seemed like the best option since we needed a larger quantity and it could be delivered. I didn’t think schlepping 24 bunches of kale on the métro would really work or that it would even be possible. Friday I called and confirmed the order. They assured me everything was good to go.
Monday morning arrived, 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock. Radio silence. I’d sent an email. Nothing. I called. No answer. My contact was not at the office – call this other number – no answer. I began to feel anxious. What if the kale wasn’t going to come? It was like I’d been set up on a date and it was all just a big joke and no one was going to actually meet me. What if Terroir was secretly just having a laugh about the weird American girl who ordered massive amounts of kale??
Finally, I reached my contact at 1pm. He informed me that “there was a problem with the delivery today and you won’t have your kale until tomorrow.” My heart sank as the fury inside me grew. Just another example of the lack of customer service in this country. Why oh why did it take me calling the distributor to receive this update? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I could have waited all afternoon… Deep breath. The biggest concern was that the kale would not arrive the next day. Then where would we be? At the Yelp event as The Kale Project with no kale. Ouch.
Plus it meant that we would not be able to make the kale pesto until Tuesday. The original schedule was to do the pesto on Monday and the chips on Tuesday to break up the work. Now we would be scrambling (and crossing our fingers) that everything would be finished in time.
As good project managers, we called a few more times to make sure the farmer was able to cut the kale on Monday for Tuesday delivery. No response. We called again a few hours later. No response. The stress was setting in and I knew it would be a sleepless night worrying about kale delivery the next morning.
The next morning I woke up at 6am to pouring down rain, four large plastic containers which had to be taken via taxi to La Cuisine Paris to begin the long day of cooking. And of course there were… no taxis. I stupidly did not reserve one the night before and with a 7:45am departure time and the rain, there was not a taxi in sight. I think I called the taxi company, G7 150 times in 90 minutes. There was a point while I was dialing G7 on repeat and waiting in the rain (umbrella left in my apartment) to try hailing a taxi that I questioned what on earth I was doing. At that point French lessons seemed like a great alternative over trying to help re-introduce kale to France.
At the same time, my partner the awesome Mariana (intro to come!) called to tell me that the kale had been dropped off at La Cuisine Paris (hooray!) at 7:30am… only to be left out in the rain alone. Luckily I knew there would be no chance of theft since nobody would have any clue what was actually in the crates.
Mariana arrived by 8:30 to…. wait for it…
PURPLE KALE. Yes, the Russian variety and the complete opposite of what was ordered. Another customer service fail by Terroir… what’s the saying? Three strikes and you’re out?
It was too late to cancel our attendance at the event and we really didn’t want to. We called Joël and he said he’s mostly sold out until spring. We had nowhere to turn except to the Red Russian variety. Out of the three varieties, it’s not necessarily a bad one but not what I would first use for kale-virgins. But we had no choice… so Red Russian kale it was.
I finally found a taxi at 9:15am and when I arrived to the warmth of Jane and her staff at La Cuisine Paris, I felt renewed. They’re smiles and excitement about kale and the Project were a fresh start for the day that already by 10am seemed like the longest day ever.
And then Mariana and I got to work. We washed the kale, de-stemmed the kale, dried the kale, oiled and salted the kale and made pesto and chips to feed the French Yelp foodie world! It looked like a kale tornado had taken over the La Cuisine kitchen.
It was exhausting and we hustled but got everything done just in time to bring all the goods to the 11ème for final prep and the Yelp event.