I have a fetish

There are many kinds of virginity. Thank goodness that being married doesn’t preclude me from taking a particular kind of virginity. Men, women, children, seniors … whatever. When it comes to getting people to eat their first oyster, I am king. I have a fetish for taking people’s oyster virginity. I looooove it. I wish I have been keeping count, because I’d be somewhere around 100. Anyway, I had another happy victim today: Katie, our newest staff member.

She had one and then she had another. As a bonus, I talked Angela into her second oyster experience. And, Matt had another today too. We all had some beer and a couple oysters. It was fun. And, I will tell you with certainty that everybody is putting up less and less resistance to oysters. Don’t you feel bad for my staff? 😉 Can you imagine having to suffer through random breaks at work where your boss makes you eat oysters and drink beer?

While I love getting people to try their first oyster, I love eating oysters even more. We are adding another oyster variety to our store shortly: Shigoku / Kusshi Oysters. I am pretty pumped about shigokus. They have a deep cup and are very briny and delicious. We had some in the office today to photograph them for the store. And, I’ll never miss an opportunity to eat oysters with everybody at work!

Eaters of Honor

In the last few years, we have developed about 700 recipes, like this. Up until recently, we held the photoshoots at my house. My lucky neighbors would come over in the afternoon and help us make sure that no food went to waste.

When we moved into an office with a kitchen, photoshoots moved there … and a lightbulb went off. Instead of a monthly smorgasbord for my neighbors, why not spread the love around and pick a person or two to invite as our eater of honor. What a great way to thank those that have helped us and also a great opportunity to get to know people better.

So, we started a tradition of having eaters of honor. At each shoot, we cook and photograph 10-15 dishes. We prep all morning and then around midday the dishes start coming out fast and furious. Our eaters of honor are invited to come park themselves in our lounge usually from 1-5 PM, just when the parade of dishes come off the stove. We stuff them full of amazing food, keep their glass full of whatever drinks they fancy and they just hang out with us for the afternoon. Good times.

Eaters of Honor Alumni:

Tom Gagne & Rick | October 2011 | Beef, Beef, Beef & Alba Truffles
Tom & Rick worked tirelessly to build out our amazing new office. They were the first eaters of honor because our office would no way be as cool as it is, if they hadn’t done such an amazing job.  Thanks guys!

Jenny & Jenny | December 2011 | Dungeness, Halibut, Lobster & Geoduck
I invited the Jennys as a thanks for the good work that they do in our community by organizing the Will Bake For Food bake sale. Plus, it was a great opportunity to get better acquainted with these two lovely ladies.

Hsiao-Ching Chou & her guest, Marc | January 2012 | Grass-fed Beef & Pantry Panoply
Hsiao-Ching was our PR consultant for a very short period before she stopped working with clients to pursue another great opportunity, but from the first moment she taught me so much about how to develop long-term relationships with journalists and editors.  Grateful, I am.

Dr. Josh Leahy & Guest | February 2012 | Poultry, Poultry & More Poultry
Dr. Josh is an exceptional acupunturist, naturopath, and a fellow Sounders fan and sailing enthusiast. But he’s an Eater of Honor because of the great work that he is doing to bring a truly integrative model of health care into this world, along with my wife (Tara Shelby). Thanks, Josh, for your great work and for your steadfast support and counsel to my valentine.

Sharon Clark & Guest | April 2012 | Chef’s Choice
Awerks is an architecture firm run by Jeff Clark along with his wife Sharon.  Jeff has been fantastically generous with his time and patience as we work on plans for something special.  In addition, Sharon was one of Marx Foods’ earliest fans.  She competed in our first recipe contests and has been a constant voice of support.  Plus, she makes all kinds of tasty pickled stuff and shares it with me.  So, it’s time to start repaying a whole lot of favors!  Jeff will be missed this time around, but we’ll figure out how to get him in here for some tastings…

Chris Tanghe | February 2013 | Duck, Kurobuta & Mangalitsa Pork, etc
Chris was our executive chef & co-sommelier for years before real life intervened.  He’s responsible for a huge percentage of the recipes on the blog (including several of our all-time favorites).  We still keep in touch and are hoping to work with him on a planned wine program.  To say thank you we invited him to take a turn on the other side of the stove.

Hsiao-Ching Chou |  March 2013 | Silere Alpine Origin Merino
Yes, this is the second time Hsiao-Ching has been our eater of honor.  Yes, she deserves it – when it comes to PR, she’s just that good – her initial insights were gifts that keep on giving.  Besides, I wanted to get her thoughts on a new meat line we’re bringing in – Silere Alpine Origin Merino.  It’s a leaner, more elegant alternative to conventional lamb.  Nothing like a 10+ course meal of it to get a person acquainted…

Becca Sheedy | November 2013 | Beef, Merino Lamb, Alba Truffles & More!
Becca is a longtime friend with a spectacular green thumb.  She comes in weekly to keep the many plants in our office healthy & happy.  She’s also responsible for the overhanging plants and awesome living wall in our retail store.  It seems like we get compliments on her work weekly.  Becca has helped us for so long, and her contributions are so important to the look and feel of our office & store, that it seemed fitting to invite her to our Alba truffle photo shoot as Eater of Honor.  Check out this post for photos of Becca & her “assistants” in action!

How to Tell if Someone is a Chef

Simple.  Their babies are able to clean a kobe tomahawk steak to the bone.  😉

The below is from our new chef, Autumn.  We sent her home from our last shoot with a tomahawk and it looks like her family made quick work of it.

Meet Sophia & Bell, Seattle’s incarnation of the chupacabra.  They are responsible for your missing steer.


Chupacabra-children may be a national phenomenon – Denver customer Glen was kind enough to submit photos of his own oh so cute and oh so carnivorous daughter, Morrison, gnawing on a bone from our wild boar racks.

Morrison Wild Boar Bone 2

Morrison Wild Boar Bone 1

Given how tough wild boars are to bring down, I’d say she’s giving Sophia & Bell a run for their money (and between all three of them, boy am I glad I don’t have four legs!).

Moved in to the New Office!

So it’s been several months since I wrote this post telling you that we were going to be moving….where are things with the project now?

Though we’ve only moved next door, the difference between 144 Western and 140 Western is game changing.

We’re getting more light, more air, more views, and more space. I’m no longer cooped up in a greenhouse-like office right up against the windows, but overseeing everything from a lofted office.



I’m able to see over most of our space and (more importantly) out the windows to all of our beautiful new views.


Three newer, more efficient AC units and strategically positioned black out curtains keep the place nice and cool, even with all the sun coming in.

Downstairs there are amazingly-high ceilings, lots of big sunbeams for The Pack to lie in, and lots of plants (and we’re just getting started…Becca’s got big plans).


We’ve put several more photos up on our Facebook page if you want to see more of the office.

Chicken Nuggets? Seriously?

So we’ve finally got the dust and packing boxes sorted after our move.

One of the big, big plusses of moving our office is that our new digs have a full kitchen. Imagine our surprise when we looked closely at the stove and found this button staring back at us from the console:


You read that right. This isn’t a Photoshopped fake. Our stove, which has no other food-specific convenience buttons on it, has a “chicken nuggets” button the way your microwave has a “popcorn” button.

We had a good laugh about it and will forever pray that noone notices, as few foods are farther from our desires or brand than chicken nuggets.


Meet Garrett Marx

To say that I am proud of my little brother Garrett would be an understatement.  Garrett who you first met here is exceptionally smart, likeable and sensible.  He instinctively and effortlessly understands a lot of the things that it has taken me several books to arrive at that “a ha” moment.  After many years of unlucky knocks (like cancer) and bad habits (like substances and slackerism), Garrett is really starting to step into his potential.  The kid is a nascent ______________ (whatever he likes). 

We took a chance on Garrett and promoted him from salesman (where he was taking the path of least resistance) to warehouse manager.  He has enthusiastically embraced his new job with both brain and brawn to the point where I think he is even surprising himself.  Now that Garrett is hitting his stride at the warehouse and has a little more time, he might start posting here and on our social media accounts a bit more.   Below is his first post. 


Well I’d love to tell you that from 9-5 I was on the phone working hard in sales, but I don’t like to lie. I can remember all the different ways and methods I learned in the art of “looking busy”.. I became a true professional, seriously, I could teach classes at Harvard in how to look busy. I would tell you some of the ways, but I plan on releasing a book and making millions, so I guess you have to wait until the book is published.

What a different life from Atlantic Highlands paper pusher, to Newark hard working fast moving warehouseman. Once again I prefer not to lie, so I can’t say “I remember that first day”… No quite differently, I can’t remember the last couple months. One big blur. Through the blur I learned a lot, I guess I had no choice. I had no choice because up till a few weeks ago, I did everything. I had no helper/worker, just me. Almost all of the shipping and much of the receiving for all 3 companies, all me. My big bro Justin was here the first couple weeks to help set up systems and help out, but that was it.  And I tell you that a lot of people doubted me, probably almost everyone. I have a lot of self-doubt and insecurities, but I will tell you, I wasn’t worried. My mentality was “fuck it, I got this”. I guess my “fuck it” mentality actually paid off this time. And if you can’t take the heat of my conversation, get the fuck out of the kitchen.

Green labels, weights, dates, Market Select, Marx Foods, Cross Docks, Transfers,  blablablabla….These words to me are like plus and minus to a math teacher. These words are my new life.

I also get to be a boss now. And you know what the coolest part is, I don’t have to be the asshole boss, I don’t have to be the pushover weak boss, I don’t have to be anything but the boss I want to be. Nice, respectful and if you mess around, GOODBYE!! I told my employee “the second I need to be a dick, you’re not doing your job. And that is when you will not be doing this job”.  I don’t want to be the asshole boss, So I will not be. Or the boss that asks you a question in regards to you doing something wrong, just so he can hear you say it. Rhetorical questions are ridiculous.

I don’t feel like writing anymore, so I will stop. My bro Justin says “would you like to write things on my blog, you can contribute and start doing some work for Marx Foods”.   Do you like to write as part of your job the guy asks me.. Hello Justin, just because I am now a hard working fast moving warehouseman, doesn’t mean I don’t like a little office punk work anymore.

aaaaahhhhhh, no bosses around me, no call list…. “how many calls have you made today” “get on that phone” “your only as good as your last sale” “I hear a lot of typing, not enough calling”.. aaahhhhhh, NO MORE!!!!


Go, Garrett, Go!

Advice for Job Seekers

Hiring is without question one of my most important jobs.  Period.  End of Story.  I am extremely grateful that our business is expanding.  And I am stoked to bring another superstar into our little work family!

But hiring is one of my least preferred things to do (if you aren’t from Seattle, “least preferred” means most hated 😉  Nine years in Seattle will make anyone stuff their lingo full of euphemisms and indirectness).  Reviewing 100 resumes and conducting a couple rounds of interviews is going to take a lot of time that I don’t have.  But, making sure that we hire the right people is the most important thing I do.  So, here I go.  I’m about 25 resumes in and wanted to share a quick insight with you. Somebody is procrastinting by writing this post!

The practice of screening applicants is an exclusive process.  My goal is to cut 100 resumes down to 10, which is no easy task.  In the first round of resume review, I am not looking so much to find my 10, but to exclude those that I know will not be in the 10.  The process is unavoidably designed to exclude applicants.  I can’t speak for all employers, but my number one most reliable method for excluding applicants is whether you connect with me in your cover letter.  It doesn’t matter if I am hiring a writer or a graphic designer.  You need to be able to communicate in writing.  And, you need to make me feel like you are genuinely excited about this prospect.  And, if I can tell immediately that you are sending a standard cover letter, especially when I ask for a “thoughtful cover letter” in the job ad, then your resume is in the “not interested” folder as quickly as I can drag it over there.   Here are some cover letter excerpts to drive home this point.

“Dear Sir, I have read the add posted on Craigslist.org, concerning your need for an office assistant.
This letter is to express my interest for this position, since based on my skills and abilities,
I am confident I could be the right person for this job. Below you can review my resume.”

The above letter obviously is sent for every single job.  You obviously aren’t interested in the job, so why should I read your resume?

Now, check out this one:

“I believe that I am the undiscovered superstar that you are looking for to be your new foodie office assistant.  After some investigatory navigation around the Marx Foods website, it became clear that an opportunity to work for your company would be a chance to become part of a fun and exciting team.  Food has always been a passion for me, but in my twenties I have truly started to subscribe to the belief that your company professes, that “a meal can never be better than its ingredients”

OK, now we’re talking.  Or:

“When I saw your ad for a Foodie Office Assistant, I at first thought I was witnessing a mirage.  An interesting and perfect opportunity for this lady who loves her food, and has mad office skills to boot!”

Perfect, you are really excited, you are a foodie and you have office skills.  Check, Check, Check. Or:

“I got really excited when I saw your call for applicants for the Foodie Office Assistant position of Craig’s List.  I love food and cooking, and I am an incredibly organized and efficient person.”

With so many people looking for jobs, you really need to figure out how to stand out.  Instead of sending everyone the same exact letter/resume, consider applying only to jobs that you know you are interested in.  Then follow the application instructions very clearly and take the time to write a compelling first few sentences to let the employer know that you are really excited about the prospect.  Quality, not quantity.  Or if you have time for quality and quantity, then do that.

To be clear, a good opening cover letter doesn’t guarantee an interview.  But, if the cover letter connects with me, then you will be one of the 20 applicants whose resume I look at.  And that gives you much better odds of being in the final 10.

Now if you excuse me, I have 75 more resumes to go through.

Thanks Becca for cultivating a jungle…

The weather just started to become gorgeous in Seattle.  Finally, summer is here.   The only problem is that it makes it difficult to sit in the office and focus, as you might imagine. 

Fortunately we’ve managed to cultivate a certain amount of the outdoors indoors, and that helps. Our open loft space is filled with trees, most of us have plants on our desks, and we’ve got trained vines climbing several of our walls in elegant formations.  Our plants clean our air, add tremendous coziness to the space, and help take the edge off that undeniable deep yearning to go out and “work” on a blanket spread on a grassy spot in the sculpture garden.

None of the Marx Foods staff can claim credit for our flora though, we long ago figured out that we needed a green thumb for hire, and that’s where Becca comes in (Charlotte, her daughter, is along for the ride).

Once a week Becca, Charlotte, and sometimes her son August come in to take care of our jungle. Almost everything needs to be watered, and several plants need to be misted regularly to stay healthy (here’s August taking care of that).

But when one of our plants starts looking under the weather, Becca always knows just what to do. She rotates plants around the office that are getting too little or too much sun, prunes as necessary, and in general gives the plants the love they need.  If bugs move in (which happens very rarely), she’s ready with remedies that won’t make The Pack sick if one of them decides to start chewing on a discarded leaf.

If you’re in the Seattle area and need your own plant expert, I can’t recommend Becca enough.  Her green thumb is on point; she’s smart, nice and beautiful; and like all plant ladies she is a little kooky.  And, with that comment, I should mention that I met Becca freshman year in college when she was my new girlfriend’s (and now wife’s) best friend.  We had somewhat of a rivalry for Tara’s attention and let’s just say we were a little antagonistic.  We love each other, but never miss an opportunity to poke each other 😉 

Anyway, Becca is fantastic.  Just shoot me an e-mail at Justin (at) marxfoods (dot) com and I’ll gladly send you her contact info and answer any questions. You too could have an office this green!

Soccer and the future

The Pacific Northwest has a really bad collective case of soccer fever.  The Seattle Sounders average attendance has been 36,000 strong.  Games are a blast.  I have had season tickets for the past couple years.  There is nothing worse than not being able to make a Sounders game, as was the case this weekend because Tara and I were hosting a party for a good friend who just had a birthday and just kicked cancer.

The silver lining: passing on my tickets to my staff and getting them pumped for the beautiful game.  It is even more of a pleasure when I can plant a soccer-loving seed in the youth.  Sorry Ryan, but it is looking like your adorable son might grow up to be a rabid soccer fan (with baseball as a close second) 😉  How can you not love the beautiful game when the live matches are so exciting to watch?

Bryden is FIRED UP and the game hasn’t even started yet.

But, soccer isn’t all chanting and cheering … it is also serious business 😉


Anatomy of a Photo Shoot

We usually do our photo shoots at my house, but we recently staged a mini-shoot at our office, so that we could work with some clam, mussel and whelk samples that we got in.


My guess is that most bloggers work on one recipe at a time and then a few days later make another. As you might imagine, we have more of a production/industrial method to developing our recipe content. We create 8-18 recipes in a day, depending on recipe complexity and our energy levels toward the end of the day. Here’s our basic model:

Our chef (Chris, in the red shirt) takes my list of items that I want to work with and develops a list of recipes and a shopping list. Then, he shows up to the shoot and cooks at his whim all day. Also an advanced sommelier, Chris does the alcohol pairings. And, he does the majority of the food styling (Ryan puts on the finishing touches).

Our writer (Matthew, in the foreground) builds the recipes as the chef does his thing. Matthew transcribes Chris’ every slice, dice and sprinkle. The two of them go back and forth all day discussing measurements, tips, nuances, drink pairings, etc.

Our photographer (Ryan, behind the camera) handles the photography top-to-bottom of all of the plated dishes as well as documenting the various cooking steps. In addition to the creative and technical aspects, it is a remarkably physical job … lots of time spent crouching, reaching, bent, etc.

I (brown shirt) play the top dog and the low man on the totem pole at the same time. These days there is very little work at the top for me, since the shoot team has been working together for 2 years and things run pretty smoothly. So, I make breakfast, keep everyone caffeinated, wash dishes, act as sous, hold lights and fire off a dish or two a day, in addition to all of the shopping and setup. It is a tremendous amount of work, but I welcome the physicality since the rest of my work life is spent sitting in front of a computer.

We try to eat everything that comes off the stove, but we consitently fail miserably in that department. By late afternoon, we are somehow passing up some of Chris’ fine creations … and that’s when we call in the neighbors who happily oblige.

We are moving into a new office soon and we’ll have a full kitchen, which means that all of our shoots will be done in the office. We are all pretty excited about that, especially the staff that don’t normally get to come to shoots. When we start cooking regularly in the office, it will give everyone a chance to try all of the foods that we market/sell all day long.

Post Written by Justin Marx

PR Pinky Toe Dipping

Even though our webstore will never be complete, we are ready to be on the radar of the big food media.  Don’t you think it is time for them to know us?  (if you agree and you know a food journalist or editor, tell them what you think of us, ok?  Cool.)

If you are one of our blogger friends, you have a sense of the goodness that we are about to unleash with our mailer.  27 selected journalists and editors have some heat headed their way…

I am loving the way these boxes turned out.  It was most definitely a team effort.  Matt & Ryan put a fresh look on the sides with spraypaint and stencils, Matt hand wrote the line on the top of the box and Matthew put together some nice copy for the inside.  Angela packed all of the chile samples, about 10 varieties in each box.  Love it guys!

Is it wrong to be excited to burn some prominent buttholes over the next few weeks?