We went to an Outdoor Research event tonight during which the brand attempts to woo the REI employees into promoting and selling OR products when the customers’ needs fit the product. By doing this, they show off the vision, the manufacturing, and the science of OR products and Gore-Tex products. Pretty interesting. The CEO, Dan Nordstrom (yah, that Nordstrom), shared a few minutes about the growth of OR, and I took some notes. Josh was skeptical about whether Mr. Nordstrom’s thoughts applied to food and culinary arts, but I think it does. So here are his thoughts. You tell me whether or not you think it applies.

– Grow at the right rate for your business
– Use social media
– Tell your story
– Decide who you want to be (as a company) – and don’t try to be like everyone else
– It’s all good, whatever you do (he was referring to outdoor recreation, but hey)
– It’s not about the product but about the experience
– The products shouldn’t get in the way, but they should do what we want them to do (what we buy them to do)
– Keep having fun

Outdoor Research is a Seattle-based company that makes its government contract material (for our Armed Services) in the US and makes the commercial products (for the public) overseas. They focus on building high quality product, and this is accomplished by training and retaining skilled employees. The product development is based on the needs of outdoor individuals – both professional and dedicated individuals and casual recreational participants. Feedback drives the products for next year.

In restaurants, it makes sense to develop a clear culinary identity and to stick to it. It is also important to produce food that customers want to eat. In class, our instructors tell us that while we’ll be “the chefs” of the restaurants, we’re still serving people. That echos what Chef Ethan Stowell said in his interview in August. “In the end, you’re still cooking dinner.”

Very true. So..dinner anyone?