So reads our menu for our waffles, served daily at The Corner Kitchen and at Chestnut during Saturday and Sunday Brunch. Recently, I received a frantic phone call from one of the Managers at Chestnut asking why we prepare waffles from so far away, especially with how “locally focused” our menus are. I calmly explained why we like the Carbon Malted Waffle. More on that in a bit…
I realized two things after I hung up the phone. First, that at Westmoreland & Scully, we like to tell stories through our food. It is part of our orientation for new employees to regale the hosts, waitstaff and kitchen personnel with stories that we think are important. This underlines our belief that story telling is a viable marketing tool; that the more our guests know about us, what we do and why we do it, the more they will feel at home in our restaurants. And second, maybe I need to re-tell this particular story, because it speaks to my experiences as a young cook as well as highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit which has defined much of my working life.
I first encountered the FS Cabon Malted Waffle as a trainee in the kitchen at Houlihan’s Old Place in the Riverside Mall in Hackensack, New Jersey. Every weekend, there was a ritual; Setting up the Waffle Irons. We only sold Waffles during Saturday and Sunday Brunch. Problem was (and still sometimes is) that the cooking line wasn’t designed with extra high amperage outlets for the machines. They drew an inordinate amount of amps and weighed in at around thirty pounds and were, to say the least, unwieldy. We would try plugging in these wrought iron behemoths at various spots nearby, trying our best not to blow a fuse, both literally and figuratively. Once we sorted electrical issues, there was the mess. The batter went everywhere. It was goopy, eggy and buttery, coating everything and hardening nicely. This made the “Waffle Ritual” an onerous one. Perfect for the least experienced cook; me.
My first question was, “Why, for the love of all that is holy, are we using these archaic, messy and electrically dubious contraptions!” The Chef, a certain Mike Hurley, answered with, “Try one.” And I did. And it was truly amazing. The taste was exquisite; malt, balancing the sweetness and buttery richness of the crispy yet light crust. Topped with blueberry compote and lots of butter, it just about brought tears to my eyes. Compelled, I asked how this came to be. I needed to know the back story to something so wonderful. (I know, it’s just a waffle…)
Mike filled me in on the FS Carbon story, explaining that we only paid for the waffle mix; the waffle irons came free. That sounded like a pretty cool scam to my young ears, so I looked further. Turns out, it is an old-fashioned idea, based on the principle that if you make it easy for someone to buy your product, they will. In 1937, Fred S. Carbon got a patent for his Malted Waffle flour. He delivered it himself to his ever-growing clientele. In the 1960’s he developed his own waffle iron. Thus creating a paradigm for rapid growth and customer loyalty.
The rest is pretty much history, and it parallels my own. Everywhere I have been and worked, Denver, Atlanta, Lincoln, Nebraska to New York City, The FS Carbon waffle followed me. It still does, delivered by a single distributor whenever we need it. He’s pretty good at repairing the waffle irons too. They still cause problems with the electrical, but now it is Circuit Breakers, not Fuses…
– Chef Joe Scully