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Ford Fry speaks to a crowd at Grace Midtown for Creative Mornings Atlanta.

Celebrity or Servant?: Creative Mornings with Ford Fry

Feeding people graciously and lovingly is one of life’s simplest pleasures – a way of making life better for someone, at least for a while.

When I first decided to embark on this journey of self growth, I knew right away that I could not do this alone. I needed to find community. To see what others were doing, be inspired, absorb and learn.

Through the power of Istagram and some friends there, I was beginning to catch wind of some really great companies, organizations and artists doing some amazing work. In a short time, I stumbled upon the account of Creative Mornings Atlanta.

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Here’s what they are about (taken from their website):

The Atlanta Chapter of Creative Mornings believes in the city we all call home. We believe Atlanta is a hotbed of creative talent and we want to inspire and challenge our creative community towards better things.

 

Wow.  That’s exactly what I was looking for.

The way they do this is through free, once a month lectures from people in the Atlanta creative community. I had just missed march’s event so I set a reminder for the registration date ( I was serious about scoring a seat) and when the time came, got a spot right away.

Ford Fry Shares about Humility

April’s event was held at Grace Midtown, the theme was “humility”, and the speaker, chef Ford Fry. Fry has opened a number of restaurants in Atlanta, including JCT Kitchen & BarThe Optimist and The recent Superica at Krog Street Market. Having just been to Superica the week before (if you have a love for well designed spaces and experiences, not to mention amazing tacos, visit this place) I was excited to learn from the man behind it all.

Fry embodied the theme; humility. He was a laid back, unassuming fellow with a big smile from Texas. Listening to him was like hearing an old friend tell stories in you living room.

He began with this question: Would you rather be a celebrity or a servant?

#goodquestion

Ford went on to tell some stories about his process behind some of the restaurants he’s opened. I was amazed to see, start to finish, it was not about him at all. Before a name or location, he asks, “does the community need this place?” Every detail of each restaurant is thoughtfully designed to provide the best quality of experiences, and not just the menu. Even each light fixture is important, he said.

What’s even more amazing is that Ford is not about growing businesses and profit. He’s all about growing people. He gives each of his head chefs a stake in how their restaurant  operates, mentoring them to the point where it’s no longer Ford Fry’s place, but it truly belongs to the chef. He is there to serve them.

Impact over income. It’s a theme I’m seeing over and over, the more I observe the people that are doing amazing work. Ford is making an impact by not only providing amazing culinary experiences to ordinary people, he’s impacting the staff he hires. He’s impacting local farms by buying the best of what they produce. And he’s impacting an industry, proving you don’t need fancy, suit-and-jacket establishments to be successful. You can create inspiring spaces with the best food where folks can casually enjoy one another.

So what’s the takeaway? For me it is this: it’s all about serving. No matter what your passion is, you can be yourself and serve others with it. And your impact and success will eventually grow. But as Ford Fry said, “The day I start to think its all about me is the beginning of the end”