Archive for November, 2012

Guest Blogger: The Other Half Of The Business (Part II)

November 29th, 2012 | Guest Blogger

This is the second installment of a guest post from my business partner, Arthur. As explained in the introduction to the first part, I officially introduced Arthur a couple of months ago. Here’s his story of how he went from working in finance in New York City to moving to California to start a business with me. Thanks for the guest post, Arthur!

~ Rachel

Thanksgiving 2011, Our First Culinary Collaboration

It wasn’t until the summer of 2011 that my friendship with Rachel turned a corner toward the path we’re on today as business partners.  As she has explained in previous entries, we had a fateful cupcake date where I convinced her to apply for a job at the Three Green Ducks bakery.  Rachel had been laid off from her law firm and was searching for her next step career wise.  I knew that baking was her passion and that she dreamed of opening some sort of establishment some day.  I immediately thought of my own childhood working in the restaurants, and I knew she had to get her hands dirty working in an actual bakery if she were able to be 100% sure she wanted to own one.  I am glad Rachel took that leap as it was the catalyst for her and Steve moving to California at the beginning of this year and for beginning her plans to start her own business.

While Rachel was starting her West Coast adventure, my own career in Finance had begun to stall.  Working in Finance in New York City had been very lucrative and allowed me to live a pretty comfortable lifestyle.  However after the recession of 2008, my working world had become more difficult and less fulfilling. I began to think about what my own next step would be.

Since Rachel moved, we had stayed in pretty good contact — often texting regularly and Skyping every other week to stay in touch.  It was during one of those Skype sessions, she jokingly floated the idea of me relocating out there to open a fried chicken shack to go alongside her bakery.  I laughed it off initially. Why would I move?  I loved New York City and had become a pretty established New Yorker. I had a good job — even if it was boring, and I couldn’t see what my next position would be in my firm.  Would I risk that all to move a place I didn’t know very well, not to mention the financial insecurity it meant to start something from scratch by myself?!

Skyping With Rachel

But, Rachel was insistent, and we kept going talking about it conceptually until I decided to come out for a visit this past July.  I spent time in San Francisco where a dear high school friend lived. I also visited Santa Cruz where Rachel lives.  She drove me all over the area, pointing out all the things she thought would persuade me to make the move.  Admittedly, as soon I landed I fell in love with the Bay area.  I had visited in the Spring of 2011, but this time coming as an interested observer rather than a tourist turned out to be a totally engrossing experience.  I loved San Francisco because it was all the nicer things that New York City is not.

New York City will always have first place in my heart, and I hope our business becomes so successful that we have the opportunity to establish something there as well. On the other hand, San Francisco is a new metropolis with a better climate, a more laid back lifestyle and seemingly more open citizens compared to NYC.  Wine Country enthralls me because I can visit all the wineries I read about and enjoy in just an hour’s drive. Santa Cruz is beautiful with its beaches and hills, but it seems a little to quiet for this city boy (although being close to San Francisco is a definite plus).  So, after a long, heated, and (and somewhat tearful) conversation in Rachel’s living room, I decided to take the plunge and join up with her in this insane yet fantastic undertaking.

I have spent the summer and fall closing out my life in New York City and saying good bye for now to so many dear friends. I also took one last grand vacation to London, England before moving out to what Rachel calls the Best Coast.  I have recently arrived in San Francisco and will be here until the New Year when I will make my way down to Santa Cruz and get settled in.

Rachel and I still have a lot do in terms of launching our business early next year.  Although we are already great friends, we are now learning to be successful business partners.  For every up we have, we do have our downs, and I know we have to take each in stride as the road ahead of us is long and will hold an abundance of both ups and downs.  As business partners, I have noticed we complement each other well, but we are also both strong willed (i.e. stubborn), and we have our moments of disagreement.  But, I am comforted by the fact, no matter how we may disagree, we can always come back to consensus because we want what is best for our business.

I think Rachel is one of the most talented, creative, genuine, and caring individuals I have ever met, and there is no one else I would choose to undertake this particular endeavor.  I know we are going to be a great success.  Thank you for joining us on this wild, fun journey, it’s going to be one heck of a ride!

~ Arthur

View From My Temporary Home In San Francisco

Guest Blogger: The Other Half Of The Business (Part I)

November 26th, 2012 | Guest Blogger

A couple of months ago, I introduced my business partner, Arthur. As promised, here is a little background information from his side of the story. I’m also introducing him to blogging because the business website has a blog too. Show him some love!

~ Rachel

On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Hello everyone, I’m Arthur, and for those of you who follow Rachel here regularly, I am her business partner and friend.  It’s my distinct pleasure to be writing this “guest” entry for I’d Rather Be in France.  I do apologize in advance if the quality of writing for this entry doesn’t match up to the lyrical prose you are used to reading here.  I am fairly new to this blog stuff, but I hope you do find this entry informative and entertaining.

As written before in an earlier post, Rachel and I formed a friendship while she was living in New York City, and are now business partners in an intriguing, new food venture here in California. Before more details are revealed about that, I would like to tell you a little more about yourself and how Rachel and I became friends.

First off, I was born and raised in the great state of Tennessee, so like Rachel, I am a Southerner.  My parents were immigrants from the country of Taiwan, but both sides of my family can trace their roots to mainland China.  My parents’ families fled China during it’s civil war in 1949.  My father chose to come to the US, when he was accepted to the accounting program at what is now the University of Memphis.  After graduating, he loved America and the city of Memphis so much, he and my mom decided to stay and start a life in the Mid South.  It was here that my brother, who is four years younger, and I were born and raised.  I attended high school in Memphis, spent some time at the University of Chicago, and got my undergrad degree at The University of Tennessee (Go Vols!).  I experimented with law school at the University of Memphis before moving to Nashville, TN to work in financial services which ultimately brought me to New York City where I met Rachel.

As you all know, Rachel writes a lot about food and drink, and that is something we share in common.  I got my appreciation for good cuisine and drink from my dad.  Because you see, he had other plans than being an accountant.  He was a self taught chef and eventually opened a number of Chinese restaurants in Memphis.  During his career he became a very celebrated and accomplished chef and restauranteur before his death in 1995.  Among his many honors, he cooked for a couple of US Senators, a First Lady, and even the band ZZ Top.  He also had the real treat of cooking with the late Julia Child when she came through Memphis on a cooking tour.  Being raised in a traditional Chinese family, my brother and I grew up studying a lot and working in our family’s business.  Whatever kitchen chore you could think of, I did.  I even have the distinction of being the youngest bartender in Memphis, but that is a whole other story.  It was working in my dad’s kitchens, that I learned to appreciate how beautiful and delicious well made food could be of any cuisine.  It was also there that I learned that I had an innate talent in terms of cooking as well.

When I moved to New York City in 2005, I hit the culinary jack pot in terms of the diversity of high quality restaurants and markets.  In my seven years in the city, I was able to eat at some of the best restaurants this country has to offer and enjoyed every last bite, not to mention every glass of wine and beer too!

It was in New York City that I met Rachel as well.  We both attended the same Methodist Church on the Upper East of Manhattan. Our Church had a very vibrant and socially active 20’s-30’s adult group and we became acquaintances there.  I was always very fond of introducing aspects of Memphis soul food to my “yankee” friends and would frequently prepare and host Memphis dry rub BBQ cook outs and fried chicken dinners in the backyard of my apartment.  During those gatherings, Rachel and I discovered our mutual passion for good old fashioned Southern food and our friendship grew.

I’ll stop there for now. In the second part, I’ll explain how I got from going to church with Rachel to moving to California to start a business with her. Thanks for reading!

~ Arthur


Thanks For Another Wonderful Year!

November 22nd, 2012 | Rachel

Happy Thanksgiving From The Hundleys!

 My family is gathered in Charleston, South Carolina for Thanksgiving this year. My parents sold the house we had here, so we are renting a condo on the beautiful Isle of Palms.

I got to spend some times with old friends the past two days, even passing through my college stomping grounds in Athens, Georgia.

The Arch at The University of Georgia

Instead of cooking dinner in our rented kitchen, we decided to take it easy this year and have Thanksgiving lunch at Poogan’s Porch, a great upscale Southern food restaurant downtown. We had perfectly prepared smoked turkey, ham, stuffing, gravy, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and exceptionally good biscuits. We framed our main course with she-crab soup, corn chowder, chocolate pecan bars, pumpkin cheese pie, and cranberry streusel.

Now we are back at the condo napping off the tryptophan. Tonight I’m introducing the rest of my family to Apples to Apples!

I hope you have had a wonderful day with your own loved ones, whoever they may be. If you had to work today, I hope you get to relax and celebrate tomorrow or this weekend.

Last November I wrote daily(ish) blog posts about things for which I am thankful. You can see that full list here. Thank you so much for reading my blog. I hope the next year will be even more interesting to follow as the new business comes to life.

Thank you!


Unexpected Results

November 17th, 2012 | Rachel

This is even worst than that time I dumped the new bag of Verve coffee beans on the floor at work.

[For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you may remember a previous dedicated to failure.]

Its Friday night. Its been raining on and off all day. And I’m bundled up on my sofa wallowing in self-pity.

This seems to be one of those things that people on all sides don’t like to talk about, but the results for the 2012 California bar exam were released earlier tonight, and, much to my surprise, I wasn’t on the pass list.


I was a little nervous about the results simply due to the nature of what was at stake, but I wasn’t too worried about how I would fair because I’ve thought I had this one in the bag since I took the exam in July.

This isn’t my first bar exam. I took the New York exam right after law school and practically skipped back to my hotel when it was over because I knew I had killed it. Those feelings were confirmed a few months later when I got my results: pass.

I thought there was going to be an advantage to taking a second exam after passing another state. I thought the psychological advantage combined with thorough studying would be a guaranteed pass. All of the opinions solicited from my friends who had taken a second state seemed to support these assumptions.

As I did for the New York exam, I wrote out by hand a thousand flash cards covering the material in my Bar Bri books. I spent hours every day sitting at my kitchen table as I read through my books and made note cards. As the test neared, I reviewed the Bar Bri strategy for answering essay and practical test questions and read through a number of the practice questions.

Looking back (in the three hours I’ve had to reflect on this unfortunate turn of events), I think there were a few key differences my preparations for the New York and the California exams. I am sharing them not only to vent my overwhelming frustrating (and desperately search for an answer for WHYYYYY??), but also to document my experience for everyone in Internetland who will one take a second bar exam, particularly California.

First and foremost, I didn’t take a formal bar review class for the California bar. Those programs are pretty expensive and this effort was funded by me and my parents, so I just bought the books off of eBay for $200 and relied on my own self discipline to make it through all of the material in time. This seemed to be the strategy that many friends had taken and had received favorable results.

Second, I took the New York exam the summer after law school while I was still living in Chapel Hill. All of my friends were studying for bar exams, and I had study buddies who were also taking the New York exam. I still had a little fun, but life for everyone that summer was centered around studying. This meant that there were people around me that understood first hand how boring and uninspiring studying for a bar exam can be. This second time around, my non-lawyer friends tried hard to be supportive, but it was impossible for them to relate to what I was doing, and much of the time I felt like I was silently suffering alone. Even worse, I encountered a few well-intentioned but annoyingly misguided people who insisted I was studying too much.

Third, and probably the biggest contributing factor to my lack of success with the California exam, I was trying to balance studying with not just one but two jobs this past summer. This was when I was working at the restaurant, which I really loved doing, and also had my day job that paid considerably more. I ended up quitting the restaurant job the week before the exam because I realized how much time it was consuming, but I’m afraid I made that decision too late. Even more irritating is that I was spending considerably more time at the restaurant than at my other job and wasn’t making enough money to support myself. That combined with a frivolous post-exam extravaganza has left me with a credit card bill that I am still paying off.

Fourth, even before I get the break down of my score, I know the reason I failed was the multistate multiple choice exam (despite the fact that I passed with a high score last time). I decided against doing practice questions, and had I done so, I would have realized that criminal procedure was going to be tested a whole lot more than I was expecting. I didn’t take crim pro in law school and now recall having to study that subject a little harder while prepping for the New York exam. Most of the other information on the California exam was facts I already had buried in my brain, but I found myself in the middle of the MBE this time around wishing I had reviewed criminal procedure more thoroughly. Again, to make a terrible situation even more irritating, if I had waited a year to take the exam, I would have been eligible for the attorney exam, which doesn’t include the multistate exam.

It is a frustrating, deflating experience, to say the least — particularly in light of the financial, emotional and time investments made by my family and friends. I feel like I let everyone down, and none more so than myself.

Maybe my next post will include some sort of perspective or insight, but for now I’m just sad.

Moving Pains

November 14th, 2012 | Rachel

“Steve-Got-His-Captain’s-License! Blueberry Pie

In addition to a few (or six) slices of particularly delicious blueberry pie, I’ve had a lot on my plate lately. I’ve been putting in a lot of hours at the day job trying to get more fiscally stable before I have to dive into the new business full time. At the same time, I’m trying to get enough balls rolling with Arthur that we can hit the ground running come January 1 when we become an official business entity.

We actually have a name picked out, but as a somewhat comical oversight, we realized this evening that we never nailed down a particular way to spell it. Arthur sent off the paperwork to have the name reserved with the state of California using one spelling, while I set up a blog on the website on a domain name using another. Oh details.

On top of these two jobs, I’ve also been coming to terms with the effect of a cross-country move on some of my more significant personal relationships. As a result, I have renewed my efforts to create and grow more local friendships. It’s an exciting prospect — after all, I didn’t know a soul when I moved to Chapel Hill for law school and only knew one person when I moved to New York City and ended up forming some of my most treasured friendships in both cities — but it is also deflating and frustrating at times.

I’m still trying to figure out how to build cultural bridges to some of these lifelong Californians who haven’t spent any significant time away from the west coast. In a weird way it reminds me of my attempted interactions with people born and raised in Long Island who still seem almost culturally incompatible with someone from the south. Its amazing the assumptions we have for how people should act based on the environment in which we were raised. Despite the increasing distance from my homeland, I am still most comfortable interacting with people who grew up south of the Mason-Dixon line and west of Texas.

Of course, life isn’t about being comfortable, so here I am in Santa Cruz, California where the only person I knew before I arrived is the person who came with me.

I’m curious to see the effects of west coast living take shape. As I stated in my Ode to New York City, there are a number of things I have taken away from that living experience: “to be a little tougher, a little more confident, a little more open-minded, a little more adventurous.” All of those things still hold true. As for California, the biggest change I’ve noticed so far is that I wear a lot less make up (or, gasp, sometimes none at all). I’m also in noticeably better shape and use the word “gnarly” every now and then. Other than that, only time will tell :-)

In the meantime, I get to ride my bike and take walks along places like this:

Surfing Lessons in Santa Cruz