By Jean Bernstein
One morning about twenty years ago when I was working the counter at our original Central location a guy leaned over the bar and motioned to me “come-mere, come-mere!” He was eating a slice of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. “I tell ya,” he said, waving his fork. “Don’t eva change this pie, no matta what you need to charge. It’s so damn good…”
The pie was made by Ralph Gurule, who at 73 was our first baker. Ralph was one of the American old school bakers who knew how to do the classics from scratch. Ralph hated retirement, so his son answered our ad for a part time baker. Ralph used to say over and over “old bakers never retire, they just drop dead”, referring to his desire to keep baking and I think, to stave off the inevitable onset of advanced old age. His strong, muscular arms made small work of pie dough, scones and muffins. Our first kitchen was too small for much variety but we wanted to do everything the old fashioned way – no mixes, canned fillings, or fake stuff.
Twenty years later it’s the exact same pie that Ralph made. We still use real butter and we still cook the fruit filling in our kitchen. The quantity of dough has changed a lot, so a big spiral mixer with a special dough hook gently incorporates the cold fat and a little milk into the flour. I had been thinking of writing this story about Ralph for a while because he was one of the Flying Star (Double Rainbow) quality pioneers, whose contributions are celebrated every time we serve our food and bakery items. We have grown quite a lot over the last twenty one years. But despite the growth, we have stayed true to the reason we got into the restaurant business in the first place – the love of food! We are proud to say that the newest generation of talent in our kitchens and bakery share this passion with us. I am reminded of the old saying – the more things change, the more they stay the same. And so it is for Flying Star.
Jean Bernstein, Albuquerque, New Mexico 2010