I first met Rick Carson in 2011. He had just opened his restaurant, Nosh Eatery (now Nosh Creative Catering) in Hudson, Ohio and, in efforts to bring awareness to their work, he had joined the business-to–business networking group I was a member of at the time.
I don’t know a lot about the food and beverage industry. My work experience prior to starting RevFit was almost solely in retail. I do know it’s a relentless pace with very low profit margins. It stands to reason when you own a restaurant, you do it for a love of service to others, not to roll in the dough (pun intended) unless you make it as a celebrity chef.
There has always been something about Rick that I’ve been drawn to. He’s a bit younger than I am and you could tell that he was passionate about his approach to cooking, something further enhanced by his ability to bring as much farm-fresh, organic and often locally sourced food to what Nosh offered.
Since 2011, I’ve seen him go through many changes to the way he operates his business. Ever the restless business owner, he would change the business and the hours of operation as the demand for their services began to be dictated by the overwhelming catering work they did.
2011 was a tough year for me and my family. We lost my father to cancer in March of that year and many of my business friends in the networking group Rick and I were a part of came to support my mother and I, a gesture we were immensely grateful for.
As a part of that group, the members would frequently give direct business to one another, so I became a dedicated fan of Rick’s culinary work.
Pretty soon, the word around town grew exponentially and all you heard was how great the food was.
In 2013, my mother would be celebrating her 60th birthday. Had my father been alive, he would have absolutely made it a birthday to remember. I was still trying my best to fulfill that role for my mom; to give her special gifts for those unique days like a birthday and holidays.
Not knowing what Rick would be available to do, I reached out to him and expressed my interest in throwing a surprise birthday party for her. My mom and I are both native to the state of Tennessee and we absolutely love Southern food.
I asked Rick if he had an interest in cooking a Southern spread with his own unique spin on the food. He said he did and we arranged to have the occasion at Nosh on a night they weren’t normally open to the public.
As a way to keep things quiet for my mom, I told her I wanted to take her out to dinner for her birthday. I invited several local friends and even some friends from Tennessee to be a part of the special occasion with us.
The day before the event, I had a last minute idea and I called Rick to see if he could help. I knew how much my mother loved pecan pie and I asked Rick if he could pull it off. In his always kind way, he said: “Jason, I’d love to but it’s really tough to pull together everything we need when we’ve already done our ordering. I know I can’t get the pecans in time.”
“Rick, I happen to have about 2 pounds of Tennessee pecans. If I drop them off to you, will that help?”
“Yes, I think I can come up with something if you can bring them to me.”
I rushed the pecans out to him that day and got the rest of the little details worked out for the party.
The day of the event, one of my Mom’s friends called her (not someone I had initially invited) and asked her if she wanted to go out to eat for her birthday. My mom called me, knowing that we had plans and asked if it would be a huge inconvenience if her friend joined. Knowing that we had a buffer for our head count that evening, I was happy to have her friend come along, especially since she had no idea about the surprise party and would get to find out at the same time as my mom.
When we got there, there was not a soul in the dining room with the exception of the kitchen staff. There were some decorations up but they were somewhat ambiguous with no hint that they were specifically for my mom. Once we walked in, the guests came out of the back.
Much to my delight, my mother was completely surprised. Not just with the party itself, but we had some close friends of the family who made the trip all the way up from Tennessee to be with us and celebrate.
And, to Rick’s part, the food was to.die.for.
Rick came out and gave a really nice introduction into his thoughts and approach to how, why and what he cooked for the evening. Everyone loved the food.
At the end, Rick brought out the pecan pie.
As he was cutting the slices up, he made the remark: I’ve never made a pecan pie before so this was a new thing for me. I give myself a 5 out of 10.
We all tried a slice and couldn’t have disagreed more, it was at least an 11 out of 10. Way to be humble, Rick.
Of course, the truest test was to not only satisfy the Tennesseans in the room, but my mother who was the queen of honor for the evening. Everyone was over the moon about the great work Rick and his staff did.
Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of training his chef Derek, his son Issac, his girlfriend Laura and Rick himself throughout the years.
Ever since 2013, Rick has always held a special place in my heart. He came through in more ways than one for my mother and he completely overdelivered. I’ve never (and I don’t say this lightly) ever had a better dining experience.
That he did this to commemorate such a special time for my Mom in a bittersweet way without my Dad being there is something I’ll never forget.
You might be wondering why I’m telling you a story that happened 7 years ago. It was a long way of carrying you to why this matters in 2020.
Like many other small businesses, Nosh was absolutely affected by the pandemic. Like we had to do with RevFit, Rick continued to find ways to keep Nosh afloat by making great food available to his customers in whatever way they possibly could. When you have a business that is almost completely about catering and a virus forces many people to cancel their events, your business model suffers greatly.
Rick was one of the first business owners I reached out to when the closures began. I knew how much he would potentially be affected and I would have been devastated if he couldn’t survive it.
Last week, he reached out to me to let me know about some new things he was trying and he asked if I could spread the word. As I told him then: Brother, anything you need, you know I’ll do all I can.
So, this week’s blog is dedicated to him, his staff, and, true to the title of the article, his sentimental value to me. He’s always been a great friend, they do exceptional work at Nosh, and I want to see my guy thrive year after year. Especially after the insane start to 2020 we’ve all experienced.
If you’re local to the area, please consider getting on their mailing list to find out about their weekly pick-up/delivery menu and try some of their amazing food.
You can learn more about what they do by clicking HERE.
I should offer the disclaimer that I make no money by promoting them nor am I receiving any free food for doing so. To be honest, even if Rick offered it, I wouldn’t take it.
To my friend Rick, stay true to your mission of Nosh. Keep making exceptional food and I’ll do all I can to help promote you. I know the city of Hudson (and neighboring areas) will do right by you to do the same.
Thank you for what you’ve done for me and my family. I’m in your debt. Love you, brother.
(Below is a picture of Rick and I after we were invited to speak to a group of doctors, dietitians and weight loss patients about the importance of quality food in our lives.)