The Firestarter Interview series highlights those who share our passion for craft and our commitment to the highest standards possible. Our aim is to celebrate the creativity and dedication of those who strive for perfection, in whatever endeavor that may be.
ERIK JONES: Hearth and Fire is a new brand for us … it is a brand new brand. But it’s also a new way to approach. Starting a brand that’s really based in craftsmanship and premium ingredients and taking your time and the number one priority is … how do we make the absolute best product and everything else fills back from there.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: That’s amazing. What a great idea!
ERIK JONES: So for me as a research chef, when I was going to school, when I was daydreaming about what my career would look like … this is the project. Like, this is it. This is the project I was hoping to get. Yeah, for me, this journey has been truly fun and really, amazing is exactly the right word.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: So cool. I love to hear that.
ERIK JONES: Thank you. So it’s been, like, about three years, about two and half years. We’ve just launched the product. It’s a small launch.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: That’s incredible.
ERIK JONES: Now, we’ve launched the product and we really want to build the brand and we want to introduce it, so that was the whole impetus to reaching to you all at Baking Steel. I’ve been huge fan of Baking Steel for a long time.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: Oh, cool.
ERIK JONES: Really what this is, hopefully, is the first of many conversations with folks that focus on craft, people who are passionate and frankly obsessed with ensuring that they are producing the best quality of whatever it is that they are producing.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: I love that.
ERIK JONES: Yes, so you’re in Michigan now. Where are your roots at? Where did you grow up?
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: I grew up in Massachusetts. I’ve lived there on and off my whole young life, then I turned 20 and ventured out, traveled quite a bit … had a couple of different professions. I started out in culinary arts. I studied restaurant management.
Before that, I lived in Europe, worked in restaurants for a little bit ... all my life, I just loved the vibe.
I got interviewed and introduced to Todd English at his Olives and Figs restaurants, and a week or so later I was slinging pizzas at the Fig. Figs had just opened up, and I fell in love with Pizza, at that time. It was there that the passion just came out of me. His passion for food and pizza and particular things like Roman Pizza … I just absolutely loved it.
I worked with Todd for a few years and ended up on a management team ultimately, but, thereabout, my love for food just escalated. I had skills in the kitchen but also skills in management, so I was able to bridge that gap between the creative side and the management side.
ERIK JONES: Got it.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: So after I had some world experience, I was like, “Wow,” and then I called my dad up and had lunch with him. My dad’s an entrepreneur. I worked with him throughout my entire young life … on weekends, whatever, welding to doing whatever it was in this plant that he had, making products out of steel … super smart guy. I realized my dad has got a pretty good business.
His customer base would be Caterpillar, John Deere, JCB, an English company … all these big, major, construction equipment makers. He had a piece of them. He would sell his parts to those guys and I would try to help build his brand for 15 years. My father was there. We had, like, 20 other guys. It was a really cool experience. Wasn’t my passion, but I learned about business and life in there.
Stay tuned for Part Two, coming soon.