Biz 101: Concept Creation with Misti Norris
Misti Norris is the chef and owner of Petra and the Beast.
The term petrichor refers to the earthy and pleasant scent after the rain falls on dry soil; the meaning and feeling has been adapted to become Petra and the Beast. Petra and the Beast flows with the natural seasons and cycles of the earth to bring unique, pleasant, and hearty reflections from farm, forage, fermentation, and fire to table.
For starters, does Petra and the Beast have a fully fleshed out concept yet? or is it in progress? Can you share what it is or at least what you're thinking at the moment?
The concept of Petra and the beast is always evolving , but the philosophy will always be the same. The dinners are focused on the use farms, foraging, fermentation and fire. What's growing wild at the time of the dinner strongly influences the direction of the menu.
Are you the sole proprietor or do you have partners in this project? If you have partners how have you worked together on the idea?
I am the sole proprietor, but the idea took a while to come up with! I knew the direction I really wanted to go but like most things it was really made possible by a few key people. We went through so many names and ideas until we finally landed on Petra and the Beast.
How has your experience working at FT33 and Small Brewpub influenced the concept you're working on now?
My time spent at FT33 and Small Brewpub definitely has an influence on this concept. I started at FT with some knowledge of foraging and truly seasonal cuisine. The more time spent there and working with Matt really opened my eyes to all the possibilities and the importance of sustainability. At Small I was able to open and run a kitchen with my vision of preservation and a "no waste" mentality. The ability to collaborate with the brewers really made a huge difference in our fermentation program. I have learned so many things from both places that shaped the way I view food and business.
What other experiences (travel, family..) have influenced the ideas behind Petra and the Beast?
My family is a huge influence on the way I cook. My family is cajun, so every holiday or family event was centered around food! My grand mother and father taught me how to cook at a young age, I became addicted. I would read every book I could and try to experiment with different ideas and techniques. My grandmother had a huge garden in the back yard as well as chickens. All my aunt's had the same. I loved visiting to harvest tomatoes, okra and peppers then taking what we harvested and making dinner.
Do you have a space yet? If so, did the concept for Petra and the Beast come before finding the space? What factors are/were you looking for in finding the space to be able to execute your idea?
I do not have a space yet. This time traveling and doing dinners is a crucial part of the concept before opening a brick and mortar place. Like every concept it tends to evolve and really find its identity in time. I'm not settled on opening in any particular place. I'm looking for a place with the natural resources, farms, and culture to really support the idea.
Any advice you'd offer up to other chefs taking the jump into ownership regarding creating the idea for your restaurant?
Hmm ideas on creating a concept or opening a restaurant. Definitely take the legitimate route even for pop ups. Take the time and money to form an llc and trademark your idea to protect the concept in the future. Surrond yourself with people that inspire and motivate you! Not yesmen, people that have their own goals and may be more talented and knowledgeable in certain areas than you. Never be scared of a challenge or to be challenged.