Between my fascination with mass production and my past as a middle school taffy-maker, I was sure that a day at Garrett Popcorn Shops® would be fantastic.
It was, but not to my credit. I sauntered in at 8 am to find my fellow Garrett chefs already making CaramelCrisp® and CheeseCorn™. Despite their early start, they greeted me with welcoming smiles. My new friends let me jump into their everyday routine, not realizing how I would inadvertently disrupt their work day.
After making a few batches of CheeseCorn™, I confidently reported an average of three batches an hour to the store manager. He told me that was good “for a slow day.” I must have been mesmerized by the CheeseCorn™ tumbler.
Next came my attempt at making CaramelCrisp®. I expected this to go smoothly. Wrong again. Instead of the trademark crème brûlée aroma that wanders through downtown, smoke and shame suddenly billowed through the kitchen. The cook ran over to salvage the batch, but it was too late. Defeated, I scooped out the darkest popcorn I have ever seen.
I retreated to my station at the CheeseCorn™ tumbler. After cleaning up the mess and throwing out the popcorn, the chef told me I needed to try again. I didn’t expect even to be allowed back in the kitchen, but she patiently walked me through each step. Together we made CaramelCrisp® that actually looked like CaramelCrisp® instead of CaramelBurned.
I learned a lot from a humbling first day in the Shop. I learned that the family vibe of Garrett Popcorn Shops® comes from the kindness of everyone behind the scenes. I learned that when it comes to this beloved Chicago tradition, experience rules in the kitchen.
I collapsed at home after a long day and let the sweet scent of Garrett Popcorn drift through dreams of my next day in the Shop.