I think Klecko loved baseball and Jesus as a kid, because both concepts hinged on being surrounded by a team.
As the Last American Baker has slowly climbed up the professional baking ladder and obtained a little swag, the first thing he focused on was surrounding himself with interesting peeps.
It's hard to drill into you numb skulls what it was like to be chained to a bun machine for 2 decades. No flashy paragraph equipped with catch phrases and pull quotes will let you understand the isolation that goes along with that.
Tick-Tock goes the clock....over,and over,and over - again.
Do you think this produces ramifications? Duh!
When my bakery moved off of West 7th to the William Hill Business Center in the Phalen Quarter....the upgrade was as expotential as the Clampett's moving from their hillybilly shack out east to the splendor of the Hollywood Hills.
We moved in the summer, that one day, merits an entire post of it's own, but today I'm going to tell you what was an epiphany that Danny Klecko had early December of that year...LOL!
I have always-always-always believed to get ahead, one must chain together WIN-WIN experiences for themselves and others.
So I got this idea that I would show my gratitude by hosting an "Invite Only Holiday Bake" comprised mostly of Polish holiday recipes.
To really make the event flow though...it is mandatory that you have a purpose. Klecko was going to feed the poor! To start I would troll for 4 star calibur civic leaders in my community to come out, but I also wanted TV time as well.
If you ever are going to plan a swank gig, the best thing to do is plan 2 lists. The first one should have "Power Players" and the second one should have interesting people, but make sure that none of these people of interest have overlapping lifestyles, you want different interests and personalities.
The pricipal is simple, let the guests entertain one another.
On my second list I had..........
Kim Ode - food columnist for the StarTribune Taste
Mike Finley - For Twin Cities Business Futures writer and best fricken poet since Carl Sandburg
Storm - She was the national animal skeleton building champ
Cherri Peet - she worked at a restaurant equipment supply store and has a reputation of being an industry Marilyn Monroe, and better yet, she was scheadualed to have her lips cosmetically tattooed the morning of the event.
Jim Meyer - Rock Critic of City Pages
And the list goes on, but you get the point. But then I called Arch Bishop Flynn (a bread enthusiast) and Mayor Randy Kelly's office. Mayor Kelly would make the national news several years later by being a DFL politician who endorsed Americans to stay with George W during the next election because he felt it might be hazardous to change power structures during a war. it cost him his seat in Capitol city.
When you talk with team members of your Mayor, you discuss things, w/o saying things if that makes sense. I explained to his assistant that all of us were so grateful to the Port Authority for helping us make the move our bakery to a nicer part of town and to show our gratitude...and feel the beauty of this idea LOL, we were going to do a give a "Give Back to the Community Baking Session"and all the proceeds would go to my neighbors (directly across our loading dock parking lot) the Union Gospel Mission!
Then I said there would be photo op's for the Mayor with homeless, dignitaries and blue collar folks.....
There was a long pause before the assistant replied........
"Yes this is a very ingenious idea.....did you say this was an idea you ran by the Mayor?"
I deferred to alpha status and one upped the assistant by replying "You know, I would like to take credit for the idea....but it was actually the Mayors."
The assistant didn't ask me to qualify my...oh what shall we call it, my embellishment?
So on event day I spent hours doing all the prepitory work. We have Father-Son & Holy ghost carved out of sourdough on the production bench, items with whiskey, rum, vodka, golden raisins, pecans,sour cream, potato, egg nog, poppy seed, prunes, apricots......everything a Pollack would request for their last meal if they were on death row.
The guests began filing in....and everybody showed,knowing that they were on "the pretty peoples short list", but who do you think was the last to arrive? of course, our fair Mayor Kelly, I think it works well to have a Mayor who is fasinably late. he ambled in sporting a jet black tuxeo while being shadowed by a goon who was his security guy.
I remember looking the goon over to see if he had a fire arms bulge, because to be honest.....he would have needed it if anything weird went down.
I could have kicked that guys a**. It made me wonder if having a weak bodyguard was worse than having no bodyguard, but who knows.....maybe dude learned some intense hand to hand killing system in Malaysia.
So the first thing Mayor Kelly does is act gracious, he makes a loop while his aid is scrambling around asking..."who is Klecko, and where can I get a floppy white chefs hat?"
Eventhough the hosts job is to accomodate, I responded with "C'mon....who in here looks like a Klecko? And, btw....they are bakers lids, not chef hats."
Dude didn't mind the rebuke, he just snatched that cap from my hand like Satan snatches souls from Miami.
Then he ran and placed it on the Mayors skull while he was engaged within conversation.
With seconds....lights start flashing and a media crew stormed the production area. It was our local friends from WCCO television news.
Praise be to Saint Faustina and J-P-2, the deal actually worked.
Cherri Peet recoiled in fear, she was looking pretty hot that night in a shirt that she would later confess was selected to give her that "bottle cap" look, but her lips were swollen and starting to ooze...."stuff?" from her cosmetic tattooing session.
Just as I began to taunt her, the TV people litererally pull me next to the Mayor and asked about the event. Little Danny Klecko (who is 8 inches taller and 120#'s heavier that our cities tribal leader) placed his arm around the cities tribal leader (who was still adorned in his floppy lid) and answered the reporters question as to why I had put the event together.
W/o missing a beat..lol, I said...
"Oh, there must be a misunderstanding, I am just here to serve and show my graditude, but the idea of giving back to Saint Pauls indigent population was our good Mayors. So many of us our blessed, so when the Mayor asked for my help, how could I refuse?"
When they played that quote on the broadcast, they spliced it over a long-slow panning shot from left to right where the viewer got to see dozens of the most wonderful items I may have ever baked.
The Mayor sooooo dug Klecko after that, and Klecko ended up intrestingly enough getting articals about himself and his business by people that he had never met.
Coincidence? Just saying......now I know some of you might think this approach is greasy, and I won't argue, but WIN-WIN creates oppurtunity, w/o oppurtunity you can't donate to dogs, nun's or battered souls, so I guess I am prepared to meet Polish Jesus on judgement day. My soul is as pure as a sinners can be, but those bas***** at the Union Gospel Mission, woe unto thee daddy-o!
A couple days later when I saw the homeless out by my dumpster, I asked them how they liked the Polish Christmas breads, dudes started laughing. when I asked what was so funny they just wore a non descript look while explaing to me that the Mission staffed them out and their office peeps took them all home.
When I asked the guys why they didn't complain about it, their answer was reasonable "Are you going to house us, feed us, and get us cable for $150 a month?"
I guess not. I was pretty repulsed by that whole deal and began to question my own motives, but by the end of the day...I figured Klecko would sit at the right hand of the Father, and the Union Gospel mission cats would roast in Hell.
I guess we'll find out.