Tonight magical things did happen
I remember when we first arrived into Fort Collins. Back then we did not even know that at some point it would become our home. There were three months of traveling and 13 states still ahead of us. It was crazy, but out of everywhere we visited, it was Fort Collins that left a mark during our adventures…
Throughout our travels, we had this “authentic” idea of creating these “secret dinners” where would change location and keep people from knowing about it until the very end. We wanted to create a fun experience, something different every time, and invite chefs to participate with us. What we did not think is that some else had already come up with that idea, and that it had set sail just before we even lifted the anchor. I suppose in life you had better not hesitate, and jump and learn to fly on your way down- or someone else will. We had learned a valuable lesson in our new town, but had it not been for this lesson, we might have never been exposed to the Eat+Drink Secret Suppers.
At first, I did not like their version of the idea: more probably that I was pissed and bummed about it. I remember saying to Juli, “Damn it! They stole our idea!” So, I did not even look more into it. I threw the ad that was in the newspaper into the trash and we moved on with our life.
After a year had passed, Juli and I had created our own fun experience. We called it “Get Up & Get Out,” and I remember I kept hearing here and there about the “Secret Suppers” in town. As we were driving our own train, we never kept our eyes off of what was, back then, “The guys that stole our idea.” The funny part is that I did not know that it was The Coloradoan Newspaper who was behind it. It was a shock when I came to realize that. What can I say? That is what happens when you walk into a perfectly functioning city… other people who have great ideas also know how to move them!
The First Encounter
Fast forward to a chef challenge that we were invited to participate in, sponsored by The Coloradoan. In the challenge, there were two prizes: one given from the organizers, “La Familia/The Family Center” "Peoples Choice Award" and the other from The Coloradoan, entitled, “The Critics Choice Award.” Somehow, we ended up winning “The Choice Award” and that’s how life introduced us to Jacob Laxen, who manages the Eat+Drink section of the newspaper.
“Life just works in mysterious ways” was my parents’ favorite phrase. Over and over they put it into my head, and what I did not know, is that they were trying instill the concept of fate in me. Some version of it, at least. Well, in this case, my parents were not here to to say it, so life itself took their place to do the teaching. It was time for us to face “the guys who stole our idea.” It was time to be humble, take two steps back, and admire their achievement. It was time to be part of it… and we were happy to do so.
However, it was not the Secret Supper organizers who approached to us to be part of this amazing New Year’s dinner- it was from someone that I would have never guessed… it was from a couple of chefs that we had competed against during that same “Chef Challenge,” John Lawyer and Jake Arnold, who are owners of the food truck “Corndoggies” and their food company, “Lickskillet,” and this is really when the adventure started.
John Hunt, Juli & I have a very spiritual way of living, and I cannot deny that it is what drives our ideas and our desire to grow personally, to find ways to have new experiences. When John Lawyer & Jake knocked on the door of our kitchen and explained the situation, we knew we had to be part of it. We saw an opportunity to help other people like us- two crazy human beings that were also out there trying their best to show the world the love they have for food and the community.
I have to say, that in no time, John Lawer, Jake, John Hunt, Juli & I were all meeting, having a drink (or seven) in our home, planning this ridiculous 12-course dinner, paired with 12 cocktails. Yes- it kind of escalated very fast! What happened that afternoon planning the menu would have been amazing to film. We went on for what must have been eight hours talking about food, experiences, love, and life. It was definitely “a magic moment,” as that famous song says. A moment that we will cherish our entire lives. We had all opened our souls and were speaking a language we could all feel in the core of our hearts.
For us, this was the first time that we had been given the opportunity to work alongside other chefs. I have to say, that the term “too many chefs in the kitchen” is as true as it sounds. But- because there is always a “but”- if you take out the ego, there is only room to have fun. We got lucky this time- because we all decided to be humble and open-minded about what we wanted to accomplish. We all decided to just have fun.
Our mind and theirs work very differently, I admit… we have two approaches, two schools, two different ways to express the same love for food, the same passion to create an experience, and sharing this was new territory altogether for us. When we put together the menu for this Secret Supper, it felt like there was so much to do to figure out how to blend it together and tie one course in with the next. It was like trying to mix a band that plays old-school hip hop with one that plays Latin music. Now- imagine that the genre of music is “The Taste of Food.” Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen! Luckily for all of us, we all shared one beloved genre in common, that of Asian food, and finally, we decided that that was going to be the frequency in which we were going to communicate.
A Different Reality
Food is not all we do. There are amongst us a Respiratory Nurse Technician, a retired Professional Cyclist, a Graphic Designer and a Filmmaker. It’s crazy now that I think about it! But, the best part is that we are all nerds- and I am not going to deny it! So, when Holly Engelman from The Coloradoan asked us that they wanted to take pictures of us to use for promotion, we saw an awesome opportunity to just create a bigger impact.
We all decided to be ourselves. Some crazy outfits came out of that idea! Also, John Hunt, the Filmmaker, and I decided to do a video of the photoshoot and do something with it. John Hunt you are amazing, my friend! Check out the video below from Arcadian Pictures- you will not regret it!
Two weeks before the event it was sold out. Amazing! From that point on, we could not think about anything else but this event. The last few days, we all got together in our commissary kitchen (Juli y Juan’s Kitchen) and we were like five mad scientists coming up with a new chemical element!! And, yes- tequila was involved. We all poured our hearts and creative souls into it, wanted to share our vision, and create an unbelievable experience for our guests.
When we found out that the secret place was Block One, I had no idea what or where it was. You have to take in consideration that Juli & I are only in our second winter here. So we went to see the place, and I have to say, it was amazing! What a great spot! We met with Leah Dunn, the Property Manager from Black One, who was equally as hospitable as the venue itself. Fort Collins- if you have not been there, you must! We all walked around and you could see it in everyone’s eyes, the event unfolding in their minds as they began to wonder how this experience we were creating together would materialize. The intention was created, the dream was projected, and these ingredients are all parts of the recipe of ideas that is baked into reality.
The Day of the Event
All I can say is that it was like taking a deep breath, closing your eyes, opening your heart and jumping into a river so strong that you have no choice but to give into its desire. We had already planned as much as we could. We had already considered as many moves on the chess table as we could, and our next step was just to let go. And that’s exactly what we all did. There were so many amazing friends who came to our aid and jumped in to give us support and be part of this incredible experience. Thank you all, and if you are reading this, you know perfectly that we are talking abut you! From the cores of our hearts, thank you.
In the End
When we open our eyes after that deep breath of faith, when we decide to face our fears and expose our hearts to strangers, when we all pursue what we love to do with the best of our intentions, when we decide to flow with life and let go of our ego… things happen- magical things. And on this 31st of December, magical things did happen.
...And to my dear wife, I love You.
...SOME THE CREW!
Special Thanks to John Robson for this amazing pictures you are about to see.
Thank you so much my friend!