Greatest Strength -- Using pure will, finished a very heavy pasta dish just for the refill
Weakest Weakness -- Lack of imagination due to extreme moral tenacity (see below)
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I haven't been here since college. From what I remember, the pasta isn't very good...but the breadsticks are."
"Okay," I begin, "your creative challenge is as follows. Imagine you are the health inspector for Olive Garden. You've been successfully bribed, and -"
Allison's face immediately hardens. "No, I haven't."
I'm at a loss for words. "Well...this isn't actually happening. It's just a creative exercise."
She shakes her head. "I would never take a bribe. Come up with something else."
Creative Challenge --What would you look for as a health inspector in an Olive Garden, as opposed to, say, Chili's or Applebee's?
What do the employees
do with the breadsticks
[drawing of two happy employees, one normal and one cyclopean, wielding cricket bat-sized breadsticks]
Allison intially chose to match with me on tinder because she was certain I was a bot or viral marketing campaign, and she wanted a coupon. She enjoys travelling, correcting me, and long battles of attrition with her sworn rival: pasta.
Vino's Vegan Victual:
37 dates to go! Thanks for dining with me, Allison -- may all your dates be so fruitful!
Allison was very unimpressed with the size of the toppings on this pasta. "They're so tiny!"
"Well," I ventured cautiously, "they are shrimp."
She did not dignify that with a response, but she did finish the dish, so it must've been pretty good otherwise.
Greatest Strength -- Upbringing in theater from a young age left her immune to all forms of rejection (a very valuable skill to have when online dating)
Weakest Weakness -- Missed out on the part of a lifetime (Young Nala) for not being "ethnic enough"
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "It's terrible. I'd rather go to The Old Spaghetti Factory."
Snapshot: Chelsea and I are discussing how rude people can be to waitstaff. She tells me that when she worked as a waitress, people treated her differently.
"It's like," she says, jabbing fruitlessly at a dry rigatono, "the second you put on that apron, you're suddenly..."
Creative Challenge --Olive Garden seems to focus the brunt of its marketing towards its core demographic of middle-aged suburbanites. How would you change the messaging to appeal more to millenials and the economically disenfranchised?
Marketing Plans for a Millenial Olive Garden
-More alternative Diner Options
-Gluten Free, Vegan, Organic Etc.
-More "culturally aware" procedures
-A buy one, give one structure
-More charitable opportuntes
-Promote their ethical practices
(Well paid employees, local farms)
-Lose their earnestness + participate in the current climate of social media (ie Wendy's sarcastic Twitter posts)
Chelsea is a former child actress (had to give it up due to chronological pressures) who was notably "on" throughout the date. As a struggling artist myself, I am keenly aware of this feeling. It's like you're always on stage, entertaining others. It sounds worse than it is, and I am probably overthinking it and putting too much of my own personal experience into someone I only sort of know. I can be a little self-obsessed. For example, in this paragraph that is ostensibly about Chelsea, I've used personal pronouns seven times.
Let's try again. Chelsea has a great deal of mental agility and is fun to talk to. She even has her own podcast about stupid movie sequels snappily titled The Stupid Sequels Podcast, which you can listen to for free! It's like being on a date with her without the hassle of going to Olive Garden.
Vino's Vegan Victual:
Apparently, Not Worth Finishing
38 dates to go! Thanks for dining with me, Chelsea. My pick is The Fox and the Hound 2.
This name could have been given to about half the pastas I see my dates eat, but Chelsea really made a point about it. The rigatoni was not able to maintain a hold on the sauce, and consequently the dining experience was notably dry and lackluster.
Hey everyone, Vino here!
There will be an approximately one-week hiatus on All Love Garden while I take a trip to Spain. If I am not murdered by Catalonian revolutionaries, you will see more dates and more pastas starting October 17th!
Thanks for your patience.
Greatest Strength -- Mastery of the C language lets her keep a cool header under pressure. Helpful and always willing to give out pointers.
Weakest Weakness -- Specialization in computer science leaves her susceptible to hacky programming jokes
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I've never been. All my friends discouraged me from going."
Snapshot: "Okay," I say, "are you ready for your Creative Challenge?"
"Ugh...if I do one, you have to do one too."
Creative Challenge -- "Write a haiku that contains the word 'basic'."
I lack basic knowledge
I write an awesome haiku
Vino's Sad Attempt
To see with the eye;
A fundamental level
Jee has lived in more countries than I can name (four) and is also a master programmer! On top of all that, she taught me that writing a haiku on the spot is a lot harder than it looks. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop forcing people to do it, though. As someone once told me, "art is suffering".
Vino's Vegan Victual:
39 dates to go! Thanks for dining with me, Jee. I hope your first ever Olive Garden experience was a good one!
Nominated for second-most unsettling two-word combination (after "puppy enema") this is actually a filling combination with a good balance of macronutrients. Solid option! Try not to think about puppy enemas while eating, btw.
Greatest Strength -- Confidence. Katrina is still in college but already has her next two jobs planned out!
Weakest Weakness -- Traumatic experience at a young age left her unable to appreciate the cinematic stage presence of Radiohead
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I think it's really good. People act all superior, but come on. It's just pasta."
Snapshot: "I run a radio show. It was gonna be about love, cause that's universal, right? But love is boring. So it's about sex."
Creative Challenge -- "Consider the Olive Garden experience - a menu, a waiter, a check. Design, from the ground up, a fundamentally improved experience."
Okay, so, the table becomes your menu - it's a touchscreen, and you see photos of the food you can order. You swipe to find different entrees, and once you choose one, you can edit it to your liking. The food is brought to your table automatically by underground pipes. [Vino's Note: ???]
There's also a card reader in the table so you can pay right there.
Katrina seems to have no end of talents - software architecture, project managment, and radio show host are just a few of her many hats. Someone so clearly skilled deserved a special creative challenge, and I really think she knocked it out of the park! I hope Darden is reading this blog and taking notes, but since the Italian Sausage is still on the menu, probably not.
Vino's Vegan Victual:
40 dates to go! Thanks for dining with me, Katrina. You're super nice!