Everyone has an opinion about what makes a pizza great, and by extension what makes a great pizzeria. We want to find something that we can focus on, some key element that simplifies the process. Well the answer is… Willie Mays. That’s it… Willie Mays! Runs, hits, makes the big plays, steals bases, bangs out home runs. To be truly great, to be a legend, you have to be able to do it all with complete dedication to excellence.
While in Chicago a few weeks ago I visited the new Rick Bayless restaurant “XOCO”
After hearing all of the recent hype about Chef Bayless, I was ready to be unimpressed with his fast casual concept. How could he possibly be that good… and then I ate the food. The menu is as basic as can be, torta, churros, empanada, just simple Mexican street food. It occurred to me that that the menu was not that much different from a Mexican fast food restaurant. The difference, and it is a huge difference, is in the execution. The level of excellence displayed at XOCO illustrates that what separates the great from the ordinary is commitment to EVERY detail.
We have all tasted hot chocolate, it comes out of a packet and is usually no big deal. Well, how about hot chocolate made from fresh cocoa ground on site? Sure there are easier ways to do it, but Chef Bayless is commited to a level of quality that is so high that no detail is insignificant and not task too great if it furthers the pursuit of excellence. In the hands of the XOCO team even something as simple as chips and salsa become a representation of the overall commitment.
That is the lesson, to be truly great we must be completely dedicated to every aspect of our craft. The disposable napkins are as important as the entrees. Every element must send a consistent message of quality. We are all familiar with the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” Well, the truly great are masters of every facet of their profession with equal emphasis on every component.
One last thing,Willie Mays practices his craft with obvious joy, I bet Chef Bayless does too.