By Jean Bernstein
As we celebrate Flying Star’s 25th year in business, we can’t help but think back to the world in 1987. On October 19, 1987, just before our opening day, we remember the stock market crashing 22.6%. (That certainly boosted our confidence!) Bill Gates was 32 and Microsoft’s operating system was only 2 years old. Apple made computers. There was an Iron Curtain – we remember Reagan in front of the Brandenburg Gate in June of ’87 saying “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (NOT a political endorsement, by the way).
Gas was 89 cents a gallon and a postage stamp was 24 cents. Demi and Bruce were getting married; Michael Jackson’s BAD was # 1. There were 9 Starbucks on the entire planet.
In the culinary portion of the world blackened fish, pasta salad and Chinese chicken salad were the hot trends du jour. Most people still knew what a Welsh rarebit was and who Betty Crocker was. Gluten free in those days was relegated to the lower shelves of a few health food stores. (I know this because my parents owned a health food store then.)
But there was an exciting artisanal food movement stirring – especially in California. We visited often and ate our way through every new bakery, restaurant and market. We weighed a lot more then than we do now.
Back home, we spent the next few years trying out all kinds of different foods. We found that very few of our customers would eat anything that contained the following: goat cheese, pesto or chipotle.
However, they definitely loved chocolate. Over the years we focused on sourcing great ingredients and creating our own classic recipes that captured the trends of the moment but also satisfied basic cravings and the need for sustenance with familiar foods done deliciously.
We have discovered that no matter how things change, they stay the same. The health and culinary movements may have blurred boundaries, desserts and sandwiches may have gotten kinkier. Tradition will continue to be challenged and redefined. Cooking styles will change, the Food Network and Cooking Channel will continue to celebrate the newest and most audacious dishes, but great ingredients with great flavor prepared fresh to order will never go out of style. People ask us if we are still excited about the food business after all these years and the answer is YES – for all of the above reasons. With a nod to Steve Jobs – we are still hungry!