When’s the Last Time you Tried Something New?
I was a picky-eater as a kid. Admittedly, I’m still a considerably picky eater as an adult.
If something is what could be considered an “interesting” texture, I’m out.
But my parents always had 2 rules:
1) You don’t have to like everything, but you have to give it a try.
2) Don’t be a brat.
Every night dinner was presented, if it wasn’t something I was sure would be in my wheelhouse, I’d still have to give it a solid try before deciding I didn’t like it. If it wasn’t my favorite, I wasn’t encouraged to say something flat-out wasn’t good… Just that I didn’t enjoy it. (That’s a big lesson I still notice more people need to learn even in adulthood: Just because it’s not your favorite, doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Your opinion isn’t fact, it just may not be for you.) If I was having dinner at say, a friend’s house, I would smile and do my best to eat as much as it as I could so as to not insult anyone. If someone took the time and resources to cook a meal for you, they did it out of love. Don’t be a brat.
Spending a lifetime learning this and surrounded by a family entrenched in the restaurant industry gave me an interest for various cuisines. But interest didn’t always transfer over to habit. Sometimes I still just prefer the safety and consistency of an order of chicken fingers or a cheeseburger and fries.
When my Dad started dreaming up opening his own restaurant, what would become Slicker’s Eatery, our goal was to be intentional and inspired. No fryers, everything made in-house, fresh and wholesome ingredients, smaller portions with global inspiration. In the small fishing village of Cortez where fried fish is a rightful staple, we wanted to offer something different at Slicker’s Eatery.. We knew it would be a learning curve for us, and our local community. For me, that meant I’d have to go outside of my comfort zone.
If we had any other chef on board at Slicker’s Eatery, I may have been a lot more apprehensive. When my cousin, Chef Kurt Clennan, started building the menu we knew we could trust him to create something special as we had seen him do for so many years… But I can also admit now that I anticipated doing some of my classic “Not for me, but still really good!” polite responses. There were so many items on my personal “Not Sure About This” list: spicy octopus, mushrooms, ahi tuna, beef carpaccio. I had to secretly look up what Polenta was.
Every time Chef Kurt would present one of the braver dishes in our testing phase, I would act cool while psyching myself into keep an open mind. I had never liked a mushroom, ever. The texture of octopus had never agreed with me before. Raw meat always freaked me out. I mentally prepared to not like everything, give it a try, and not be a brat about it.
But with each presentation, I felt my culinary world crack wide open. I truly and genuinely loved every one of Kurt’s dishes. In fact, I had never been so excited about food before. Even the ones I would’ve initially put in my unsure category, I enjoy on a regular basis now.
When’s the last time you tried something new? Keep an open mind, step outside of your comfort zone, and watch your world expand. I can confidently say you will be pleasantly surprised. And even if you decide it’s not for you, there’s always drinks and dessert.
12012 Cortez Road West
Cortez, Florida 34215
Photos from Nick Donatelli & Sande Caplin & Associates