Do you remember that Faberge shampoo commercial from the 70’s, “They told two friends and they told two friends and so on and so on…?” I have some vague memory of reenacting that commercial in my bathroom mirror as a little girl and wishing my reflection would magically kaleidoscope into the many frames like they did on television as my ‘friends’ multiplied. I think I also wanted to turn into Heather Locklear.
When I sat down to write this blog with the title Word of Mouth, I knew the story I was going to tell involving the above commercial. When I looked it up I found that this ad was actually referenced as one of the first platforms of social media, which perfectly sharpens my point!
I am a personal chef and a voice over artist and I get my jobs through relationships and lasting impressions. Yes, I have a website, a Twitter handle, and I use Facebook and Instagram daily. I finally set up a LinkedIn profile a few weeks ago to root me even further into the connection game. It’s fun and I know I am reaching people on these social media channels that I wouldn’t normally have access to. But when I first moved to NYC there wasn’t any of that. Just like in the shampoo commercial, I relied on word of mouth. And I still do!
This summer, two special cooking opportunities came to me by referral. Many years ago I worked as a waiter for catering companies. A few years ago I ran into a party planner from one of the companies and we caught up a little bit. I never dreamed that I’d made any kind of impression on her to think of me when someone came calling. But she did! One job was a bit of fill in cooking for the wife of one of the most famous actors of our time. That was a big risk for her to just offer up my name. I did well and am hopeful I will be called upon again to help them with food in the future.
The second job was to develop recipes for a dried fruit company in Washington State. It was like Christmas when I opened up this incredibly generous box from Stoneridge Orchards. As blogging goes, I am a baby, very green. The seasoned pro food bloggers partner with brands and products and their sites are sponsored all the time. It’s like the product endorsements of the NFL and NBA players on a foodie level. I couldn’t believe this opportunity was coming to me to be gifted some product and paid to play with their beautiful jeweled fruits in my kitchen.
I focused on their Montmorency Cherries – Stoneridge Orchards pick their cherries at the height of freshness and then dry them. They perfectly capture the sweet and tart flavor and bright red color. I spread them all out and they truly looked like rubies! They are ideal for cooking (and snacking!) because these cherries remain moist and chewy when dried, and are packed with antioxidants.
With farms and orchards in Washington State, the Stoneridge Orchards brand is a part of Royal Ridge Fruits, third-generation growers of cherries, blueberries, raspberries and other premium fruits. (I got to try all of those too!) Stoneridge Orchards is committed to never using sulfites, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils or artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. I can get behind that, can’t you? And what is even more fantastic, I have purchased these products off the shelves before they had even approached me. I was already a fan. Just like Heather Locklear, I am spreading the word to you. And you’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on and so on!
Before I get to the recipe I’ll leave you with a reminder to pay it forward. Take note of someone doing a good job or providing a service that really impacts your life. Pass along the names of the people you believe in. Referrals make the world go round! And that being said, take note of the impressions you are leaving. End things graciously and gratefully. And do your best. I am living proof that doing a good job brings more good jobs. I’ll feature more recipes using Stoneridge products this holiday season!
Brie, Cherry, and Arugula Quesadillas
• Four 8" flour tortillas, cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter
• 1/4 cup dried cherries, finely chopped
• 1 cup arugula, finely chopped
• 1/4 cup brie, thinly sliced into 1" pieces
Preheat a grill pan on the stove over medium heat. Lower the heat and arrange the tortilla circles on the pan, place a piece of cheese, a sprinkling of the cherries and arugula on top of each round. Let heat for 20-30 seconds until cheese softens. Remove from pan and gently fold the circle in half. Repeat the process with the remaining tortilla circles. Serve while warm.
Thank you to Cheryl Stockton of Stockshot Photography for her beautiful images!