As owner and head chef of Grey Ghost in Detroit, Joe Giacomino jots a lot of things down throughout the day: recipes, to-do lists, random repairs that need to be dealt with. “I struggle to keep my day organized without being able to write notes in real time,” he says. And then there are the creative epiphanies that tend to strike in the middle of a particularly busy service. “‘I’ll come up with a menu idea while going through service with all the distractions, and suddenly it’s 11:30 at night and I’m like, ‘Wait, what was I going to do with all that lobster?’”
Giacomino prefers pen and paper over the tedium of typing on an iPhone. But he’s learned the hard way that kitchens aren’t exactly conducive to keeping the pages of a Moleskin clean and spatter-free.
A few months ago, Giacomino sprung for a new notebook after seeing it advertised on Instagram. Stone Journals are advertised as waterproof and greaseproof, thanks to their limestone-based paper composition. As soon as his pocket-sized notebook arrived, Giacomino unboxed it and dumped a glass of water on it (on purpose). “I was skeptical, so I was like, ‘I wanna know if this thing really works,’” he says.
If it sounds like a sleek, sturdy, durable notebook constructed to withstand spills and smears might be specifically designed for, say, food service industry professionals, that’s because it is. Stone Journal bills its notebooks as “an essential tool” for chefs; its Kickstarter campaign in 2018 brought in over $200,000 in pledges to bring the idea to fruition and featured the likes of chefs Marcus Wareing, Markus Glocker of Bâtard, and Jeremiah Stone of Wildair singing its praises.
Needless to say, Giacomino’s experiment worked. Satisfied with the results, he started using the pocket notebook for day-to-day lists, reminders, and notes. Then he bought a second, bigger journal to keep track of his dishes. “Once I finalize a recipe, I’ll put it in [the bigger one], in case I need to reference it a couple years later,” he says. He appreciates being able to reference it in the kitchen, or pass it off to a sous chef, without worrying about losing his archive to an ill-fated encounter with a saucepan.
Gray Chapman is a freelance writer living in Atlanta.