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Introducing: Good Work Austin

Born through shared values discovered during the fight to pass the Paid Sick Ordinance, Good Work Austin is a group of local business owners and managers dedicated to creating a better work environment for all. With the support of Council Member Greg Casar and Mayor Adler, representatives from L’oca D’oro, Brew & Brew, Sweet Ritual, The Purple Fig, and Black Star Co-op among others have decided that now is the time to level the playing field for all Austin businesses.  As a group, we are dedicated to creating good jobs for all workers, ensuring a quality workplace, and supporting and amplifying the voices of like-minded businesses. We value cooperation, inclusion, shared opportunity, equality, and fairness in the operation of our businesses.

After a very successful launch party last week at The Vortex, we look forward to introducing ourselves to representatives at the December State Legislative Briefing in Austin, and learning more about how we can advocate for policies that raise workplace standards here in Texas. We are excited to continue creating a supportive environment for employers who want to do the right thing for their workers, the economy, and the environment.

Be on the lookout for more from Good Work Austin in 2019!

Fall Members’ Assembly Meeting Recap

 

THANK YOU to the quorum of Black Star Member-Owners who gathered at the Co-op for the Fall 2018 Member-Owner Meeting last Sunday, October 21st.
After some rousing Co-op trivia, we kicked off the meeting with introductions from the current directors and with speeches from the four candidates running for the board: Beth Beutel, Roger Corrales, Graham Green, and Marcus Wilson.  They represent a fantastic mix of experience and fresh perspectives.  To summarize their stump speeches, Beth loves co-ops, Roger loves/lives worker self-management, Graham loves beer, and Marcus is lovable.  Read their candidate questionnaires on the blog (you’ll need to scroll down) and VOTE for your favorites here!
From there Beth Beutel, Black Star Co-op Board President, reviewed the priorities and accomplishments of the board so far in 2018.  She highlighted an increased focus on board training, the implementation of a more rigorous policy review process, and improved Worker Assembly (WA) solidarity.  Chris Byram, Black Star Co-op Board Staff Liaison, provided a retrospective as the most tenured member of the WA and described 2018 as a “breath of fresh air” compared to the financial struggles of early 2017.  He thanked everyone for their continued patronage and reminded them that the Co-op exists to support the Member-Owners.
                     
Given that the Co-op finances have improved in 2018, the WA asked Member-Owners for input into where the Co-op should focus in 2019 for growth.  Everyone has a favorite idea (“Year-Round Chili!”), so second-year board member, Kyle Voosen, led us in a business strategy activity that encouraged Member-Owners to prioritize their 2019 areas of focus.  This input process was similar to the August 2018 board retreat exercise.  Of the 16 different proposed strategies for 2019, the Member-Owners selected the following three as their top priorities:
1) Expand revenue from existing Member-Owners through enhanced and better promoted membership benefits
2) Improve dining experience and better communicate brand through updated facilities
3) Build demand through official partnerships/special benefits with customer organizations
We wrapped up the Member-Owner meeting with a Q&A session that covered topics including Member-Owner outreach, the upcoming lease renewal, the improved parking situation, and yes, when chili would be back on the menu.  Thank you again to the Member-Owners who took the time to support their Co-op and join us for a beer or three in the sun last Sunday!

Chef Tilly’s Wine Down Inspirations

Q. What’s your earliest food memory?

CT: Eating pickles at the bar of my grandparent’s restaurant.

Q. Who has influenced your cooking the most?

CT: Both of my grandmothers.

Q. What’s your favorite go-to ingredient?

CT: Mushrooms

Q. What did you choose to make for Wine Down Wednesday?

CT: Black Drum fillet over a bed of garlic, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and spinach. It will come with a surprise appetizer 🙂

Q. What was the inspiration for the dish?

CT: The colors of Autumn. Plus, these are some of my favorite ingredients.

Q. If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be?

CT: I would cook for my grandmas as a thank you for cooking for me all those years.

Q. Dumbest thing you’ve ever done with food or in a kitchen?

CT: While I was making cookies I forgot to put baking soda in the recipe. They ended up being sweet crackers instead…

Q. What would we find in your kitchen at home?

CT: Lots of fresh herbs, spices, mushrooms and pickles.

Q. Most memorable meal?

CT: A Giant Bloody Mary. It came with onion rings, celery, olives, peppers and it was about the size of me.

Q. What food is your guilty pleasure?

CT: Pickles…all the pickles.

Q. What’s your last meal on earth, if you had the chance to choose?

CT: My leg.

Worker Spotlight: Chef David Duvall

Q: How long have you been working at Black Star?

CDD: As of July 1st, I’ve been working at Black Star for one year.  I’m currently waiting for the parade I was promised.

Q: What do you do at Black Star?

CDD: Meat and potatoes.  I cut up all the chicken, fish, beef, shrimp and chips.  Grind and hammer out all the burger patties and occasionally get time to come up with a special or an idea for the menu.  But mostly, it’s cutting meat.  I am the Prep Czar: the Most Dangerous Man in America.  I also yell at people if they don’t leave the kitchen clean.

Q: What is your favorite thing about working in a cooperative environment?

CDD: The lack of micro-managing.  Everybody who has passed their 3-month evaluation period is on equal ground, more than welcome to question, suggest or call out anything and anybody they feel might not be quite correct.  Of course this opens the door for people who can put on a good first impression but eventually start to feel a little more entitled to try and throw their weight around, but those people always wash out.  I also like it because it scares the bejeezus out of most people who can’t imagine a work environment outside of your traditional service industry gig.

Q: What is your favorite dish we’ve ever served?

CDD: Not to blow my own horn, but the last time I cranked out a batch of Caldo de Guero on a cold, rainy February morning, I was very pleased with myself.  Because not only was it tasty, but with a little bit of sliced, fresh jalapeno and avacado, it makes ya feel goooood. Aside from that, Chef T’s etouffee is hard to mess with.  And I still say that we have the best burger in town.

Q:What is your favorite house brew?

CDD: At the moment, Pneuma.  I’m a big fan of hoppy pale ales.  IPAs are okay.  I kind of look at hops as the spice of the beer world.  Too much, and you’re blowing out taste buds, but when you get it just right, so that it’s palatable but still gives you something to “chew on”…now that’s a good beer. I’ve also drunk my bodyweight in Vulcan many times over.

Q:Bourdain’s, ‘Kitchen Confidential’ and Orwell’s, ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ both describe the intense nature of the underground culinary scene in kitchens across the world. How would you compare these depictions to the burgeoning Austin restaurant scene based on your own experience?

CDD: I haven’t read “Down and Out in Paris and London”, but “Kitchen Confidential” made it’s rounds through my circle of friends many years ago, many of whom were already years deep into the kitchen biz before we even graduated high school. 
      As a rule, kitchen staffs are more-often-than-not populated by alcoholics, drug-users, perverts and miscreants of varying degrees of functionality.  Every once in a while, you’ll find some who fancy themselves wordsmiths…..  They’re the worst.  Anyway, the depictions of hyper-aggressive, high-octane, knife-wielding gorillas with hearts of gold is sadly not far from the truth.  Pranks and shit-talk are commonplace, every day occurences.  Whether it be frozen shoes or getting trapped in the walk-in cooler, we find very unorthodox ways of relieving the high-stress situation that can be a busy kitchen line on a Friday night. You’re going to get yelled at, you’re going to be insulted, you’re going to have your life threatened.  And then you’re going to have beers together at the end of the night.  Bourdain was right about everything.

Q: What is the best animal?

CDD: A vaudeville? A nation including one superior creation
           A vertebra? Inverted…quite unheard of…
           Orphan in a family
           And a sole survivor
           He’s a living fossil”

If wrath is a venom-injecting spike, lust is having so many babies you need to lay eggs, pride is owning the nicest homes in the neighborhood, vanity is wearing the quirkiest outfit everyday, envy is murdering potential rivals with poison,  sloth is floundering around in murky river water, and greed is propogating your seed across millions of years when most of your contemporaries are long dead, then you must bow in awe at the webbed feet of Ornithorhyncus  anatinus… The Platypus.  Hail Satan!