Friday, March 20, 2009

Tariq Hanna ... The New Willy Wonka?

He's tall, mysterious, has a slight accent, and a head just full of brilliant ideas, so why not? Apparently, pastry chef extraordinaire (and, if you're ever lucky enough to get the opportunity to find out for yourself, chef-in-general extraordinaire) Tariq Hanna, the creative force behind luxury treat shop Sucre, is looking for his very own Charlie Bucket this Easter.

The way I found this out was actually really exciting. Every once in a while, some PR campaigns really just knock my socks off, and Jennifer Bond's agency's strategy was one of those moments of genius.

It all started with an email from Jen the other afternoon, asking innocently enough where I plan on being for the rest of the day. Slyly, she essentially said she was only curious because she had a rather delicate package that needed to be hand-delivered either today or tomorrow and couldn't be left outdoors or on a doorstep.

I was intrigued.

After much coordination, it was determined that Boy was guaranteed to be home during a certain window of time and that the mysterious package would be safely delivered directly to his hands, sometime in the afternoon before I returned from the office. Naturally, I rushed my ass home as soon as possible to find out what my present was. (Presents!)

In a cellophane bag with iridescent white string confetti at the bottom was a very large, very perfect, and VERY chocolate egg. But was that all?

I figured it might be and debated waiting to break it into pieces and eat it slowly, but Boy was convinced that there had to to something in it. After all, the bearer of the gift had emphasized with great intonation to Boy the very specific instructions of "She must open it immediately." Curiosity, having been killing this cat for several hours as he waited for me to get home won over, and he tore the little pink ribbon off and shook the egg.

"What are you doing?!"

"There's gotta but something in it. They said to open it right away, and that it was important, so we have to."

Well, how can you argue with that kind of logic? Monkey see, monkey do, and like a good monkey, I too shook it hard, and finally caved and asked for a knife and cutting board. After all, you never can tell what's in a secret egg, and secret eggs have been known to ooze their secrets all over your clean kitchen table.

I stabbed the top once with one of my J. Henckels and the beautiful, smooth milk chocolate split cleanly into two perfect halves, revealing a slip of metallic gold paper folded into quarters.

"What is it? What is it?!" the Boy demanded, more excited than I'd seen him in a while.

In bold letters across the goldenrod-hued shimmering paper read this:

"It's a party! They said you had to open it right away, so there's probably a party! Oh, man, I wish I didn't have a final to take. There's something going on, so you better hurry. Go find out!"

Although I absolutely hate surprises (I'm never prepared enough for surprise, and as a control freak, this doesn't work out too well), I'd never turn down a good mystery, so I flew off into the sunset (or something much less poetic) towards the address on the note. After overcoming the usual Magazine Street parking obstacles, with its questionable meters and even more questionable appropriate-parking markers, I walked up to the counter at Sucre. The store was obviously not having a party, since it was dinnertime when I got there (chocolate and gelato are acceptable meal substitutions only if you're a pothead or a high school kid with the metabolism of a greyhound) and therefore relatively empty, but I still knew something very big and very, very exciting was happening beneath the calm surface.

"I think I have something," I said, pulling out my note. "It says come find my golden ticket? Do I have a golden ticket?"

The girl at the counter was visibly confused, so I attempted to help. "Jennifer Bond sent it to me, but I don't know what it means." She apparently didn't know what it meant, either, but another girl there kind of did and showed me a placard, saying that if what I was holding was indeed a golden ticket, I'd just won an entire day at where the magic happens with Tariq in their sweets studio and a chef's coat with my name embroidered on it! This was indeed, as I said, very, very exciting. To make sure, she set out to investigate and made some phone calls.

Unfortunately, I only had one of the media eggs, which were distributed to members of the press around town to pique interest in a new promotion Sucre is launching, a promotion that's guaranteed to get people super-psyched and incite golden ticket frenzy. Essentially, every $17 chocolate egg holds at the very least a coupon for a free cup of gelato. So, sweet -- you get chocolate and ice cream. Stoner's fantasy. But that's not all! Some eggs have vouchers for a free Sucre t-shirt. Awesome! Clothes and food! Even better, other eggs have the gelato coupons but supplement that with a $25 Sucre gift card. Yayyy, candy! But five and only five have the golden ticket.

So this all begs the question Jen asked of me via crunchy, melty, delicious egg -- have you found your golden ticket?


  1. Awesome idea that they had, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was my favorite book as a kid, probably the most memorable book from my childhood. I would not have had a choice but to follow the golden ticket as well.

    Awesome post, looking forward to how it all turns out.

    Su Jit, remember what happened to the bad kids. I can see you stealing a fizzy lifting drink, or jumping into the chocolate river. It's all good though, Sucre hasn't been open long enough to have the owner passing it on just yet, all that you will lose is a lifetime of free chocolate.

  2. Lol, thanks for the credit you give me for willpower. *Lifts eyebrow.* I may not be a Veruca Salt, but Augustus Gloop? Perhaps ... even if I do resemble the after of the blueberry girl. :)

  3. this is the most exciting thing I have ever heard!

  4. wow, I want to be you. This is bad. Especially after that whole credit card thing... :)