Everything we have done for the better part of a year has come down to one hypothetical event: “When we begin making bao in America…” It’s what we have used to justify every trip, expense, sleepless night, and debate over whether a Lobster Bao would be possible (it is).
Rosamond, Gerry, Jhonny, and I woke up on a cold New England Monday morning and drove to Hope & Main to make history 100 grams of dough and seasoned pork at a time.
We were joined by the newest arrival to our team, Jeremiah Tracy! He’ll be putting his decades of restaurant experience to work as soon as he gets back from his training trip to China, which he embarked upon this Tuesday. luckily for Gerry, our new colleague goes by Jer.
Back to cataloging history in the making, We spent the first couple of hours perfecting the dough water content, and setting up our prototype equipment for use. First the steamer pilot light wouldn’t stay lit, then the sheeter wouldn’t turn on, then I decided to try to fix the dough mixer, and succeeded only in finding out what sound I make when 110 volts of electricity gets sent through my body. Eventually we were able to get everything in working order, and from there on in it was smooth sailing.
Our friends at Hope & Main were finally able to see what we had been talking about all these months. I was more than a little rusty, but I was still able to make a few bao worthy of being steamed. On the other hand, Jhonny and Gerry have improved to a point that didn’t seem possible when I left them in China two months ago. At the end of the day we were reminded by Rosamond that there is still plenty of work to be done to establish bao in America. This is true, but that fact notwithstanding, US batch number one has officially been made, and it was a total success.
Meanwhile, in Hangzhou…
Our other new additions to the team have been hard at work learning how to make bao, but have still taken the time to explore and enjoy the view. Gerry, Jhonny and I are well aware of what a challenge they face. We know they’ll rise to meet it, and will return knowing what I now know: there is no secret to making bao – just hard work, dedication, and determination to never settle for ‘good enough’.