Rosetta's First Blog - Our Kitchen History
Rosetta's First Blog - Our Kitchen History
People ask me how I came up with the concept for the kitchen and I never know how far back to go in my life to the source. Was it my upbringing of growing up a vegetarian hippy kid in Old Fort, NC? Or the open door style home my parents always had with frequent potluck dinners and lots of different folk through the door? Was it my Grandmothers’ loving meals always served with loads of southern charm and cooking styles? Regardless of what the inoculate was, one things for certain, the kitchen concept was fermenting in my mind for a long time
It was also greatly influenced by the fact that I worked in restaurants for years, some awesome experiences (The Esmerelda Inn in Chimney Rock, Asheville Pizza and Brewing, and Blue Heaven in Key West) and some horrid (Taco Bell, Hardee’s, and Peppers in Black Mtn) .In those experiences I had my eyes opened to the fact that for the most part the systems that ran restaurants were very counter intuitive to creating places of health, nourishment and happiness. It was simply not a life affirming business as a whole. I must have spent a lot of years thinking about how to make things better, a way to busy my mind and cool my frustration at the absurdity of the way things were. I wanted to be a part of a business that I was proud of; I was led to do something different.
I wanted a place where the people preparing the food felt respected and respected the job they were doing, a place that supported the community that supported it, a place that nourished the whole person, a place that supported the customer who made conscious choices about what they ate, a place that cared about the environmental impact they were making. If you look at the bigger picture of what many restaurants support, they dis-respect the values of life and community; poor quality food, grown using toxic method, then traveling thousands of miles to reach the restaurant, prepared by uninspired and disrespected people, served in an uninviting atmosphere and packaged in destructive take-home containers that pollute our earth. I needed to tend my own needs, of finding a career path, but I also wanted to nourish my community. I wanted to do something cool.
At the age of 25, I realized it was time; the crisis point in one's life - looking at myself and thinking, wow, I have to grow up, and soon. When I look back at that year, I now realize that I hit my own personal rock bottom. I was just not sure if I was living a life I chose and manifested of my own will, or one I had just sort of fallen into by not steering my own boat. I had to think about what I wanted to do and what I was good at. I always had an open kitchen, a open home, and it was always full of enough to feed every and any one who should happen by. I really couldn't afford to feed my friends & family at my house any more, so I figured why not move it downtown? I was a single mother, divorced, I quit my job, I was physically sick, mentally on edge, emotionally a wreck , basically I was feeling pretty broken, but somehow out of that space, nothing but good came.
I gave myself totally over to the universe. I was led and I kept going. I went out and found the building in March of that year (2002) and I opened the doors of Rosetta's Kitchen in September. You should have seen the space, it was gutted – there was nothing. We built the whole place – it was just a big hollow shell. There was no porch, window garden, or stairwell on Lexington, we built it all. It has come a long way.
I think to myself, it was so amazing that I actually made it through that stage, but I learned so much compassion. Having to walk some of those really uncomfortable paths, really allowed me to grow. There were road I had to travel in order to understand, in order to have the compassion I would need. Without me knowing, I was learning the lessons I needed.
The concept I was re-creating was a warm Appalachian home, the open table, pots full of food, the kitchen that always smells enticing and inviting. I think that hits people on a deep sensory level.... walking in and smelling garlic sautéing, it's a visceral, intuitive feeling. It is something that nourishes deeply.
Now into our 7th year, I think we have achieved success on some level and we strive daily to live up to our own reputation. I feel like at this stage, we have made something special, we as a city, we as a family, and we as a collective force of people who have poured their visions, their love, and of course their labor into the place since it was still just a daydream.
The place wouldn’t have been possible without the love and dedication of all of the kitchen’s past and present staff. I ask, they answer, I try my best to implement. It has been a collaboration, and it will continue to be. That’s what makes it work. Well that and love, faith and gravy!