November 16, 2011
This is a multiday article about the road a new food entrepreneur has taken to get his food truck started. Click here to read this article from the beginning.
“The first thing was to set down my standards,” Ian says of his Rules, “and then I had to find the people who can help me work within those standards.” That meant that Ian spent the summer months going to every single Farmers’ Market in the Seattle area (not an easy task given that he rode his bike to each and every one!) and talked to the farmers.
Unlike Whole Foods which is unable to work with some phenomenal vendors simply because they are too small to adequately supply the entire region, Ian knew he had the flexibility to work with small producers as long as they raised their animals or produce in a way that was consistent with his Rules. “I developed all of my budgets based around what I found at the farmers’ markets,” Ian says while showing me a very detailed folder that includes wholesale price lists from numerous producers. “That’s when I knew I could find ingredients that were right for me.”
The fact that Ian wasn’t hesitant to talk to anyone worked to his favor. He found many superb vendors simply by asking around. “I want to find out where the food starts. I want to see the product in the ground and then figure out how to work with it.” In many cases Ian even visited the farms themselves where the product was being grown or raised and he looks forward to more such visits in the future. “It took me about five months to get this far with the information,” he says, “but as far as I’m concerned I want to know everyone. I’m meeting with the farmers and I want to respect the product they’re trusting me with.”
Respecting the product – that may sound like an unusual phrase coming from a soon-to-be businessman. But this is also at the core of his business philosophy. Thanks in large part to his training at Whole Foods as well as the time he spent cooking when he was unemployed, Ian wants to utilize all the usage parts of every piece of produce and every animal he receives from farmers. This means that he has created a menu that will enable him to, for example, use the breast of a chicken for one thing, the bones for another, and the internal organs for yet another. “My goal is to use the whole animal.
Sounding a little too ‘hokie’ to you? Check back tomorrow to see how this also makes fantastic business sense!