Love, Loyalty & Southern Cornbread

03 Mar 2009|Leah Hunter

Last night, I lucked upon a copy of “Sylvia’s Family Soul Food Cookbook.” (For those of you who don’t know Sylvia’s it’s only the most amazing soul food place in Harlem. So worth a trip.) Flipping through her recipes for cornbread and lily white biscuits reminded me of a gift I received a few months back—and the most amazing brand evangelist I ever met…

I was in Atlanta repositioning a foodservice soup brand. After a long day, I was craving a fried egg sandwich. I ended up at a bar down the street from my hotel, the W Midtown, eating at midnight. (I’m not exactly moderate, and it was ridiculously delicious.)

While I was eating, a slightly tipsy stranger and I struck up a conversation — my favorite kind of late night chat. His name was Al, and it turns out that he worked in the catering department of the hotel. Then he proceeded to outline for me – not knowing anything about my profession, professional interest in the conversation, or that I was a guest there – the entire Starwood brand structure, the benefits of the W over other properties, and why he was so proud to be part of the W staff. Seriously. Even on his off hours. Even after a few beers. Even though he was nowhere near management. He described with absolute precision his brand’s values and positioning. He was the most powerfully loyal and motivated spokesperson for any brand that I have ever met.

A friend told me recently about a piece of advice he received, that “Love and loyalty are the two things that matter most in life.” If that’s true — and I do buy it, from both a personal and a business perspective – then the W is doing something really right…starting with employee training.

How does this relate to Sylvia’s? Al and I also talked Southern cooking including, of course, the best way to make cornbread. He gave me his family’s recipe (which he swears is the best ever – mayo is the secret). I’m giving it to you. Both love and loyalty should be passed on.

1 to 1 ½ cups Martha White cornmeal mix (depending on the size of your pan)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Land O Lakes butter
3 spoons of Miracle Whip – to make it fluffy
2 spoons of Crisco (tea not table) to grease your cast iron skillet

Mix everything up. Pour it in your skillet. Remove when golden and a little crispy on top.

Al didn’t say how hot or how long, but it’s usually around 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

prev next