Trust your gut; fall in love
On April 15, 2018, I met Leslie Lampert for taste tests at her amazing restaurant, Café of Love. At this point, I was very close to finding my 100th recipe, and I wanted her to taste some of my final contenders to help me narrow down my experimentation path.
I brought her six samples that day, recipes #93-#98. I remember very carefully selecting them the night before, as if it were life or death. “No no, we can’t bring her more than six,” I discussed with my friends. “I think six is a good number.” We were very serious then; I chuckle now.
Truth be told, I wanted Leslie to taste everything. I mean, she’s an executive chef…who wouldn’t? But I also wanted to bring her the best samples I had and be mindful of her time. Leslie is an incredibly hard-working businesswoman who offered to be a mentor to me at the start of my Noomi journey. I admire her work ethic and overflowing passion for people, and always value the time she takes out of her days to meet/advise me—then and now.
I arrived during the lunch hour, as planned, right before the restaurant opened. I sat down at the bar, and had all of my clear plastic sample cups ready to be tested; each cup lid was labeled with a number in blue Sharpie that corresponded to the recipe number of that sample. Leslie came upstairs and called her chefs out of the kitchen to join us. I didn't know it at the time, but I was about to learn a very important lesson from Leslie.
As the chefs headed back to the kitchen to resume prep for the lunch service, Leslie and I stayed at the bar and continued to discuss the taste tests further. I can still hear the conversation so clearly in my head; in fact, I remember the moment quite well because it was so close to the day I chose recipe 100 as “the one.” (April 17, 2018, in case you were curious).
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Leslie always knows just what to say, and how to (re)frame my perspective perfectly—to the point where I am literally energized and rejuvenated every time we talk. Ask anyone who knows my story, and they’ll absolutely tell you the same. Honestly, everyone needs a Leslie.
Whether I’m having doubts, fears, concerns, or questions, a phone call or text to Leslie always does the trick. So much so, that if I asked my mom or dad, or close friends, something [food] industry-related that I was unsure of, the reflex response was often, “That’s a Leslie question.”
I can’t help but smile thinking about the amount of times it’s been said and how much our professional relationship, turned true friendship, helped me grow—as a person, young entrepreneur, businesswoman, and ultimately, into the owner and founder of Noomi...one of the most humbling accomplishments in my lifetime.
I’m very thankful for Leslie and I’s chance meeting (which I’ll be covering more in a separate post). She is always there to help and offer very wise words of wisdom and advice, and I am so grateful for her mentorship and friendship throughout my Noomi venture. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you, Leslie, so thank you again. Okay okay, I digress! Back to the critical life lessons...)
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Leslie said, “Krystina, you have to trust your judgement. The chefs didn’t NOT like any of the samples you gave them—well, except for that one we all agreed on,” she laughed lightly. I smirked; totally agreed. (RIPB #93).
“They were all great. But in the end, it has to be what YOU love. Pick one, fall in love with it, and make the world fall in love with it too.”
Ultimately, for me, my one true peanut butter love was my 100th recipe, so that’s the one I chose. I blind taste-tested myself multiple times in my kitchen the night I was deciding on the one; I shuffled two sample cups around and around, back and forth across my granite counter, and every time I tasted both 99 and 100, I chose 100. I couldn’t trick myself no matter how hard I tried! (Trust your judgement, Krystina).
I always asked people, “How will I know when I find the the one???”
“When you taste it, you’ll know,” they said. Let me tell you, I pictured that highly anticipated “THIS IS IT!!!” kind of moment repeatedly in my head, but it didn't happen quite like that.
It was more like, I knew the recipe tasted really really good (and it is peanut butter, after all), but I had to believe in my palette and decision enough to simply say “this is it.” So I set a deadline and did just that.
Coincidentally, others who tasted my final two recipes unanimously agreed on 100 too. (I'd be lying if I said their reassurance wasn't comforting; it absolutely was. Trust your judgement, Krystina).
But even if they didn’t agree with me, 100 was it, because I finally trusted my gut and believed wholeheartedly that it was. (Fun fact: that’s why you’ll see a little “100” in the small peanut icon on each jar. It symbolizes my journey, and the passion and persistency that led me to 100; it reminds me to stay humble; and it encourages me, every day, to keep going).
So, thinking big picture now, here’s what I learned from this experience.
Whether solicited or not, people are always going to have their own opinions. And they’re going to have a lot of them. They’re going to ask, “Why don’t you have this?” (almond/cashew butter) and “Why did you do that?” (add extra oils). And while you can certainly offer some personal logic around the choices you make for your product (when warranted), it’s not always necessary to justify your actions. Sometimes when I describe Noomi I’ll just say, “It’s me in a jar; it embodies everything I love about peanut butter.” That’s the simple truth behind it.
Over the course of many local markets and events, I’ve learned how to politely thank people for their feedback and suggestions, and remind myself that it’s ultimately up to me to decide what to do with it. No one else.
For me, trusting my judgement, meant choosing to fall in love with my 100th recipe of peanut butter. It meant believing in that one recipe with the same amount of passion that brought it to life. It meant putting away my food processor after three straight months of product development, and finally saying those three small definitive words: “this is it.” And wow am I glad I did.
Remember, it’s your passion and your pursuit—so always trust your gut!
What successes have you achieved by trusting your gut?
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