Raul Velazquez, left, office manager and coffee mixologist, Alfonso Martinez, center, co-founder of LiveNinja and chef, and Anthony Gomez, right, lead graphic designer and sous chef, are all smiles after an early Waffle Wednesday in the kitchen. (Leslie Ovalle, The LAB Miami Staff)
Every Wednesday morning, the LiveNinja team opens their office to Miami’s creative community and gathers in their kitchen to cook up fresh waffles while their guests network and brainstorm ideas.
The idea came about from a trip to Target where Will Weinraub, the CEO and founder of the customer communication company, spotted a waffle maker on sale. He spoke to the team about making it a bonding activity where they make fresh waffles, give their team something to look forward to every week, and call it Waffle Wednesday.
Alfonso Martinez, co-founder of LiveNinja and Waffle Wednesday Chef, brought the concept to life! “I volunteered to make the waffles and two weeks later people began inviting more and more people,” said Martinez, “so we thought ‘we might as well open this up’”- and they did!
Today, Waffle Wednesdays is a weekly must for the Miami creative community and is sponsored by the Knight Foundation. Besides waffles, LiveNinja also offers interesting presentations by movers and shakers of the community. They have hosted Wyncode, The New Tropic, Design Thinking Miami, The Silicon Tropic, StartUp FIU and many more.
The team brainstorms waffle creations every week, and they stay connected through apps like Slack to share their ideas and/or requests. As of today, they have strawberry, Boston cream, cheddar tater tot jalapeno, pretzel nutella, many more and the first ever croqueta waffle that is coming soon.
“I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what’s next, coming up with the next idea and not knowing how but making it work, which is also a good metaphor for life,” said Martinez.
Waffle Wednesday Chef, Alfonso Martinez, pours his famous waffle mix into one of their two double waffle makers. (Leslie Ovalle, The LAB Miami Staff)
He is currently working on a Waffle Wednesday book, which will include all his waffle recipe creations. The most difficult part, he said, has been taking the time to write down and document all the recipes.
His most prized recipe, he says, is “The Maxwell Waffle,” inspired by the Luther Burger and named after the R&B singer-songwriter. Martinez “frankinsteins” together a crispy yeasted waffle, which is something like an elephant ear, with pieces of glazed donuts, sprinkles of bacon, drizzles of Nutella.
No Miami morning is complete without coffee, and LiveNinja gets crafty with theirs. Raul Velazques, the office manager and coffee mixologist-if you will, was hired for his coffee making skills. This past week he served a coconut cortadito that filled the room with an aroma that had notes of vacation and business. Another of his favorite creations is the hazelnut cortadito.
The team looks forward to growing the Waffle Wednesday culture by partnering with other offices and have a scholarship to get non-coders into the tech scene. “We already connect talent, next we would like to make talent happen,” said Martinez.
“I look forward to picking up Forbes one day and reading about how the connection for a partnership or business happened here at Waffle Wednesday,” said Martinez.
Leslie Ovalle | June 27, 2016