Author Archives: Lin Randolph

The thing about french fries…

I love french fries. I mean I really LOVE french fries. Belgian frites. Yuca fries. Sweet potato shoestrings. Seasoned. Waffle cut. Smothered in chili. Oozing with cheese. Tossed in truffle oil. They are all mouthwateringly good. But…there’s always a “but,” isn’t there? No matter the vegetable, seasoning, topper or dipping sauce, a soggy fry diminishes the experience for me. I want a crispy, golden fried treat that can not only deliver that delicious bit of starchy flavor, but also the perfect toothsome crunch. And folks, this texture is only found during a short window after those precious nuggets have taken a deep dive into a hot oil bath.

However, when it comes to some baked goods, time is our tastebuds’ ally.

Let’s take the classic chocolate chip cookie. Most of us have had one at some point in our life. And who of us hasn’t fantasized about that ooey gooey meltiness hot out of the oven? I know I have…and still do on occasion. However, take a moment and reflect on the difference between that straight-from-the-oven cookie and the one eaten an hour later or even a day later. Flavor profiles change. Textures change. And thus, our experience changes. Direct from the oven, our tongues are coated with luscious melted chocolate and the soft cookie wilts in our hands. But, wait a day and that same cookie becomes something crispy, chewy and complex. The buttery, brown sugar based dough is so much more than simply a vehicle to deliver chocolate into our salivating mouths. We are able to appreciate the rich caramel-like flavor which compliments the chocolate and nuts carefully baked within. Now THAT is a cookie — when texture and taste work together to reach their full potential.

So in this instance, “good things come to those who wait.”

It’s all about the giving.

I believe in charitable giving. Life can be a challenge and I am no stranger to the roller coaster. However, no matter how difficult things become, I remind myself that there is always someone facing a steeper climb than I. Whether it be a single dollar, a jar of peanut butter or an hour of volunteering, I can afford to help another in some way and you can too!

As you all know, this past Sunday I was honored to be a judge in the 3rd Annual NYC Bake-off. It was a wonderful afternoon that not only gathered together nearly 70 attendees, but raised $716.65 for Share Our Strength (nearly double from last year’s event). It was a pleasure to be surrounded by so many philanthropic folks. If you were unable to attend, please click on this link and pledge to end childhood hunger!

 

In other “one-hand-helps-another” news, I can’t say enough about the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, NJ. The following is the press release from the JBJ Soul Foundation:

October 19, 2011 – Red Bank, NJ) – Jon Bon Jovi today announced the opening of the JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, NJ to a crowd that overflowed the gardens and parking lot at the “community kitchen,” which redefines how the issue of hunger can be addressed. With no prices on the menu, the Soul Kitchen serves meals to customers who have earned them through volunteer hours. The Soul Kitchen operates as a program of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and is sustained by cash payment from customers who are able to pay the suggested donation (or even a little more).

Joined by local dignitaries, individuals and partnering local non-profit organizations, Jon thanked the Kitchen’s “friends and neighbors” who have assisted in the two-year endeavor to open the permanent location – among them Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna, former Mayor Ed McKenna and the President of the Parker Family Health Center, Dr. Eugene Cheslock.

The JBJ Soul Kitchen began serving meals in 2009, utilizing two different pilot locations and assessing the patrons’ needs and response to the model, before renovating an old 1,100 square foot auto-body shop as the Kitchen’s new, permanent location.

“At a time when 1 in 5 households are living at or below the poverty level, and at a time when 1 out of 6 Americans are food insecure, this is a restaurant whose time has come. This is a place based on and built on community – by and for the community,” said Jon Bon Jovi today.

Inspired by the old adage, “teach a man to fish,” diners in need who come to the Soul Kitchen are empowered – they have earned a seat at the table for themselves and their families through volunteer hours at the Kitchen or other local organizations. They are served nutritious culinary dishes by the wait-staff in a lovely restaurant atmosphere with the dignity of having earned their meal. On the other hand, patrons who can afford to dine anywhere are rewarded with not only a delicious meal but with the knowledge that by dining out and leaving the suggested donation, they’ve contributed to their community.

In addition to the Soul Kitchen’s own organic gardens, natural food is being provided by Whole Foods Market Middletown, in partnership with their vendors, many of whom are from New Jersey and the surrounding areas.

By adopting the community kitchen concept, the JBJ Soul Foundation has expanded its efforts – from affordable housing to hunger – as it celebrates its fifth anniversary as a non-profit organization.

HOURS OF OPERATION:
The JBJ Soul Kitchen is currently open from 5-7 Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Address:
207 Monmouth St.
Red Bank, NJ 07701
Reservation line: (732) 842-0900
Learn more: www.jbjsoulkitchen.org

 

And for those of you who would prefer to mix a bit of Rock & Roll with your charitable contribution, check out this concert at the Gramercy Theater on 12/9!

 

I salute you — everyone who is willing to be selfless for a moment. For volunteer opportunities in NYC and across the nation, please click on the following links

 

“You’ve got to find what you love.” – Steve Jobs

I know only two weeks ago I made a promise to remain focused here, but every once in a while life takes an unexpected turn and exceptions must be made. It was with great sadness that the world learned of the passing of Steve Jobs yesterday. He was a visionary who changed the way we all live and view the world today. Upon reading his 2005 Stanford Commencement address, I found myself in tears with a rapidly pounding heart. It was if he were speaking directly to me. And for reasons I need not go into here, his words fueled my passion. So, in lieu of another Ritz and Bisquick filled tale of my childhood, I will leave you with Mr. Jobs’ powerful words and hope you find as much inspiration as I.

 

This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005, via the “Stanford Report” on June 14, 2005:

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Ode to my mum…or “I’d eat crap if it were wrapped in a crescent roll!”

I owe my mum more than any number of blog entries could begin to describe. I was not an easy child to raise. Headstrong and determined, I balked against parental authority with vehemence. And in her wisdom, my mum knew traditional methods of parenting would backfire with aplomb. Instead, she went about her life quietly, purposefully, and all the time teaching me about being a good person through example.

She stood steadfast in her beliefs, but didn’t judge. She spoke her mind, but considered others’ views. She fed, clothed and gave shelter, to all those who needed it — be they animal or human. She went without, so others could have.

No, she was not a martyr. She was however, and continues to be, one of the most genuine, generous and loving, people in existence. And while many of you are probably thinking, “Of course you feel that way, she’s your mother!” This is simply not true. I am a realist and even more headstrong now than I was as a child (heaven help us all). So, while I tout my mum as being an incredible human being, she failed at one major thing. She never taught me how to cook.

That’s right. My mum has always hated to cook. Her dream home is one without a kitchen. So, growing up our pantry was stocked with everything canned and one-pot ready on the market. Mashed potatoes came from flakes in a box. Her baked stew consisted of supermarket prepared stew meat, a can of Campbell’s Cream of Tomato soup, a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, and a couple roughly chopped potatoes and carrots. And one of her favorite recipes was found on the side of the Bisquick box — Impossible Cheeseburger Pie.

So, while most mothers are terrified that their children will hurt themselves while cooking (or set the kitchen on fire), my mum allowed me to use the kitchen as my personal playground. I climbed on the kitchen cupboards to reach items in high places, emptied the pan drawer in which I sat and snacked on Ritz crackers, and when I was barely tall enough to reach the range top I created my first solo experiment which I proudly served my parents in bed — blue, mint flavored scrambled eggs.

I don’t remember going through a Dr. Seuss phase as a child, but those eggs surely were a concoction related to his green eggs and ham. And as most dutiful parents would, my mum and dad ate them all, complimenting my creation.

It was that moment, 35+ years later that seems to have defined my method of baking. I begin with basic flavors and give them my own twist — although with a slightly less cartoon like result.

So, to the woman who famously said, “I’d eat crap if it were wrapped in a crescent roll,” thank you for quietly showing me the goodness in people and encouraging me all the way. I love you dearly. I may never be able to afford to buy you that purple Jaguar or take you on an Alaskan cruise, but there will always be Raspberry Key Lime Cheesecake Brownies in your honor!