Monthly Archives: November 2012

Nov 27

Could you please pass the knowledge? And a side of secret?

By Rita Vazquez-Torres | News

Mentorship… Teaching others the magic at some point should be an infectious disease.  I wish it were as simple as sneezing on the intended subject, but unfortunately it is not.  Mentorship takes time and the right chemistry between mentor and “mentee”… Partially fine art, partially crafting another human, mentorship should be a beauty regiment / exercise as we move up and along and an investment in others. Mentorship is not about “cookie cutting” and prefab systems.  Its an art that involves intuition, trial and error, dynamic evolution, renewal and permanence.  

In the past I have seen well intended management task well intended engineers with developing a “system” or a “p-r-o-c-e-s-s” for passing along the institutional knowledge.  And with good intentions they developed a “p-r-o-c-e-s-s” based on “teach what you know” that simply was not implementable, but yet they are getting paid to try to force a creative process into a rigid formula.  The devil in the details is that we can’t always quantify or qualify the art of the “secret sauce”, nor is everyone receptive to the message, yet we try to force something that is mostly human chemistry, skill and art.  Mentorship should be a unique and special relationship where a serious lesson is passed on to a serious candidate (we should develop a “” for mentorship!).

There are experiences and skills that can be taught.  Others… can we? – Can “vision” be taught?  Can “applied intuition” be taught?  How do we harness, bottle and dose game changers/visionaries and unorthodox creative forces? Can it be captured in a “p-r-o-c-e-s-s” (for as much as process oriented professionals are a necessary evil, they can oftentimes be a serious drag).  Who is the keeper of the secret sauce?  Does the sauce have an expiration date or can it be re-seasoned to match organizational evolution?  Once the art and the artist are identified, who is the recipient of the knowledge?  How do we pick them?  

Just thinking out loud here on some of the elements of Mentorship-Mentee-ship… After all, there has to be something worth teaching, someone teacher worthy and someone student worthy.  What I am babbling about is that mentorship is critical – whether it is for the sake of succession because it offers longevity when longevity is relevant, or because it is the necessary circle of giving back.  

It gives us the ability to move people and concepts around, keeping the business or enterprise fresh, refreshed and relevant.  It builds strength through change and it gives success new meaning.  There has to be chemistry between the mentor and the mentee.  And the ideal mentee has to possess the same type of skills and qualities as an athlete or singer – mentee either has it or they don’t…  Lets face it, some of us, no matter how hard we try, we weren’t born with the pipes to sing – period!  

Successful careers are determined by many factors, and lets be honest – We all started some where, and someone gave us a chance. I really believe that it is a privilege and not an entitlement – so if you owe your success to someone who gave you a chance, took the time for you or lead you by example, pass it on to a deserving soul.  Let it flow and figure out what will work for the parties involved.

Dont get stuck on the “p-r-o-c-e-s-s” – enjoy the journey, and rejoice in the product.  But pass that secret sauce (just make sure the recipient “gets it” and knows what to do with it!) – give someone a chance.  For those of you who gave ME a chance (and you know who you are).  THANK YOU!

Nov 11

When customers are as good (or better than) as the product

By Rita Vazquez-Torres | News

As NewStoneSoup ventures into the wine mentoring and sales (yes, passion for wine isn’t as much about your seniority / somalier-like qualities, but a continuous life experience, and maybe some authoritative training), we had a chance to spend some time observing the vibe (and friendly competition, more a wine-food kinship) at the 2012 Wine and Food Phest in Boston South End.  

Hosted by two well recognized and trusted enterprises – Phantom Gourmet and Julios Liquors (Westborough, MA), the event was fun and vibrant.  The selection was limited but hit the point it set out to make – introduce the young wine-ophile into the affordable and food friendly experience.  Underlined by the “drink responsibly” – tickets were $30 in advance and $40 at the door, not for the faint of budget or lacking the maturity to understand the communion of responsible feasting – the event featured 36 budget and food friendly selections and 8 food choices, leaving the pairing up to the exploratory nature of the 21-35 year olds that dominated the event.  And this is where my maternal pride kicks in – not only is Julio’s known for putting together some seriously intense wine tastings (this being one of their “lighter hearted” I’ve attended), but it was with great pleasure to watch the playful seriousness, well instilled manners and community spirit of the young crowd.  

If your young adult was at this event, dear potential reader/parent – our congratulations to a job well done in raising such well tempered and rounded generation.  As for the wines – well, as well rounded and fun as the crowd.  For those lucky enough to meet the winemaker – STLTO wines, italian intro to food-friendly, easy drinking and super affordable wines with an image (Jimmy Choo shoes anyone?) had the father-daughter team engage throughout the 6 hour ode to baccus. On the more “moving up to the guiding you gently from less complex wines to a more sophisticated palate” were the dark chocolate/tobacco noted Gabbiano Chianti begging for a hearty southern italian red sauce (meatballs from Martino’s anyone?) and the Carmine Grenata Cabernet Suavignon – interesting because it comes from the traditionally Malbec South American soil, was a very pleasant surprise.  Im a sucker for a good bitter apperitif, Mionetto “IL” Spritz is a good stand in for the Venetian 3 pm amaro apperitif.  Some usual suspects – Beringer and 90+ Cellars were in the house, but for wine snob like myself I was surprised by the flavor and easy drinking characteristics of the Phantom Gourmet Chianti. Cakes by Erin showcased some dainty and wonderful cupcakes and the mildly rich dark chocolate from The Chocolate Truffle made for a great pairing with some of the “heartier” (for this crowd) reds such as the Duca Pinot Noir (I made the recommendation to a couple of college girls and they felt they had a day of awakening…). I had to move on to another tasting, but Phantom tweeted with glee, and captured the crowd going “gangham style”.
For more info on the vendors and the event, visit or give the Julios staff a call. Great crowd, great event, and let us NOT forget Megaphone Mark the outdoors while we stood in line stand up comic!

As for the customers – I look forward to seeing you again as I explore tastings with the “Dos Familias” extensive lineup of wines, or see you at Julios when passing by for yet another wine or whisky tasting.  SALUD!

Nov 08

Having a moment between two slices of bread…

By Rita Vazquez-Torres | News

Have you ever had a moment when something surprises you in a way you have to take a moment to ponder “on the moment”?  I think I had one of those many moments today, and this is an unsolicited marketing ploy, not out of being a loyal customer since they opened their doors, but out of pure pride that this establishment is in my community…

For those who know me, I am a shameless “home bread foodie” a puertorrican home cooking mommy with an appetite and an obsession for food (and wine and other bibes, but I digress).  Fed up with the monotony of high tech, a well respected italo-greco Marlboro husband and wife team set out to bring good wine, cheese and bread to Marlborough.  And a star was born.  As the kids grew up, and became entrenched into the VinBin fiber, they each brought their unique touch to the establishment (I know, wait for it, its coming, so bear with the babble…).

Their son, former chef for the red sox and culinary educated and food traveled heir to the dad throne, has been romancing the idea of a restaurant of his own.  But as we parents know, its hard to let the kids fly the coop, and as we age, we hope that our offspring will take our legacy to the next level.  And so, after moving and expanding, after adding craft beers, spirits and expanded the cheese case as well as specialty foods, the little wine shop that could and still can, opened up their “VinBin Cafe”… and so I had finally a moment between two slices of bread.

Three weeks operating, and I had YET to sample the prize some locals had been buzzing about.  Torn by the cold and the sliver of wet snow, I decided to pay the Cafe a visit.  Fresh ingredient/home made soups, breads, and hand crafted sandwiches, I had a moment.  A moment that took me back to CooknTaste in Barcelona as I sipped the Barcelona Tomato soup with a hefty dollop of aioli… and then I tried to gently nibble on the Barcelona sandwich, when I realized the bread had been pressed to perfect crunch, perfect setting to the home made tepanade and thin slices of manchego that had melted and oozed out of the bread.

I closed my eyes.  I inhaled the garlic.  I dunked the sandwich.  And I licked my fingers.  And I became further firmed in my obsession for good things simply made and made well, my passion for family owned businesses that do their thing really well, and I declared Chef, our local “Sandwich King on Main”.  The VinBin is located on 91 Main Street in Marlborough, MA, and the Cafe is open from 11-3.  Here’s to having a moment…