A few weeks ago, I saw a friend post the following image on instagram:
How fitting (and refreshing) for DC, right? It really does feel like most everything is a popularity contest. Who’s friends with this chef? Who’s opening on 14th street (okay, guilty)? Who’s got a booth at this event? And what about this list, are you on it? The saturation of our local food world (and this applies to music, art, and fashion as well) has turned us all highly competitive, and slightly crazy.
That list? We’re not on it. It’s a bit of a bummer, sure. There are a tons of lists like it that come out every year. We’re on some, and not others. It’s not a setback, just a reminder to keep doing what we do and keep involving others (you!) in how we do it. Like DC, we’re always in transition and always doing something new or better, and that’s something we hope you can rely on.
It’s not about the lists. It’s not about who makes the most “authentic” or “traditional” gelato, it’s not about who is being scooped at this event and not at that one. We’re not in competition with each other. And I get asked about this at events all the time– about how we’re going to respond now that another shop is doing x, y and z, about how we feel about this other shop, and so on. My answer is always the same: it’s not DC shops versus each other, it’s DC shops versus the world. And by the world, I mean the Big Guys. DC has enough fantastic coffee shops that the presence of a certain green siren shouldn’t even matter. It has enough decadent dessert shops that no one should feel threatened by the trend that is fro-yo.
Local shops: keep doing what you do, keep bringing your best. But remember that it’s not about us outdoing each other. It’s about local, artisan food becoming a movement that ends up in people’s kitchens. It’s about sharing our stories and passion so those not involved in the industry feel inspired to take up similar attitudes about food. The spirit of competition is good because it means everyone brings their best to the table/freezer/bar, but we are not enemies. If we’re fighting at all, we’re on the same side.