Archive for June, 2010

June 30, 2010

Live Culture/Farm Fresh Canning Event (posted by Chef Hugh)

To be at the actual source of clean, beautiful food gives one an interminable belief that, yes, everyone CAN eat well (I love you, Andy, but Alice really is on to something life-changing).

Weirdly, the field from which beautiful peaches and apricots come looks exactly like the field from which the toxic peaches of my youth sprouted: dusty, random, and sprawling.

As the sprayer-machine drove by to wet the road to avoid dustifiying the driving machines of us city-and-country-dwellers whose education and tastes dictate a life in the city, disjunct from the food supply, but, ironically, also provide us the means and curiosity to both see from whence our food comes and to attend a canning seminar, I flinched and considered possible escape routes: I once outran a malathion helicopter in Los Angeles (or at least I hope I did). But the sprayer misted the earth with water, not insecticide. Once I was confident in this, I relaxed into the task of preparing an intricate gourmet dinner for 35 equipped with little more than a bag of mesquite charcoal and an oil drum with a grate on top.

We were prepared as can be, and the last-minute decision to swap out prik king (red thai curry paste) for achiote paste turned out to be a good call. Of course, in any situation, which involves both five-star aspirations and a rustic setting, some compromises must be made. (Hopefully no one noticed!)

The most interesting part of the event was, of course, hanging w/ the inestimable Anya Fernald and her young, energetic, committed staff. A major breakthrough occurred as a result of this event: my conversations with Anya and Eat Real administrator Susan Coss may result in our organizing one of the first ever lecture series on sustainability of the labor aspect of the restaurant industry. Who cares, which farm the endive, is from if the person preparing it for you has a miserable life?

Again, special thanks to Moyra of Capay for helping organize the event, everyone at Capay and Eat Real, and of course, everyone in attendance. I can’t possibly say enough good things about these classes: take one, everybody!

June 30, 2010

The “Secret” (posted by Blake Tally)

I have found that when you put ideas, good or bad, out there (in the universe) they seem to come back amplified.  I have always believed in karma and other golden rules like treat others as you wish to be treated.  I have never taken it as far as Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret” but have found that the more you talk about something the more energy you create towards it.

Since deciding to leave the comfort of corporate America to go off on my own I have had a number of happy coincidences occur in my life.  While contemplating whether or not to go to culinary school or start a restaurant I met my current business partner at a local Sunday brunch spot.  Coincidence or fate?

As you can see there may be more to success than willing good things to happen.  There is no substitute for sheer hard work and perseverance.  The more that my partner and I talk about our business the more unique opportunities present themselves.  The problem, if you can call it that, is that all of these fantastic opportunities come with deadlines.  If we are going to be able to take advantage we have to move fast.

People always tell me that you can measure a man by how he performs under pressure.  I believe this to be true. Based on my calculations we have 30-60 days to raise the rest of the money before a few of these happy coincidences potentially find other ways of becoming reality.  So here goes, with fingers crossed, “please bring me qualified investors, please bring me qualified investors, . . . oh yeah, and a winning lottery ticket.”

June 30, 2010

The City of San Francisco “vs.” Street Food (posted by Blake Tally)

Today the City of San Francisco’s board of supervisors is gathering to discuss street food and the risk / reward for making it a part of our every day urban fabric. Supervisor Dufty has taken an interest in the process and asked the le truc team to participate in a focus group consisting of city planners, department of public health inspectors, street food entrepreneurs and advocates. The good news: every group involved wants to see street food in San Francisco.

My partner is a very dedicated businessman and chef. Hugh has been working on this project for over a year and has documented 1000s of hours scrutinizing every last detail of our plan. Through this process we have continued to face barriers; some created by the City, some created by fellow merchants and others by neighbors. With all of our good intent why is getting a conditional use permit so hard? Why are there so many barriers? Simple: ignorance.

Through our community outreach we have heard many unfounded concerns. Neighboring merchants yelling about unfair business practice, neighbors concerned about noise and traffic and the city’s uncertainty about how to permit and monitor a mobile business. We can address each of these concerns.

Unfair business practice? Did other merchants forget the definition of capitalism? It is true that we have lower overhead due to the cost of building a truck vs. a brick-and-mortar restaurant. However, if you compare the two business models by square foot you will see that the rent we pay on our 200 square feet is upwards of $6.25/foot vs. $4.33/foot for a brick-and-mortar establishment. We have done the math and understand both business models – we just choose to operate on a mobile platform. Any restaurant in our market area could choose to do the same – stop complaining and step-up.

Oh and by the way – what about alcohol sales? The ABC will not allow a mobile catering truck to sell alcohol due to the fact that we would not be able to restrain our patrons to a specific area since our restaurant is on the street. Brick-and-mortar restaurants do not have this problem and can use alcohol sales to prop up their revenue numbers, creating a profit even if their menu fails. This alone should be enough to strike down the “unfair” business practice argument.

le truc wants to support the community in which we operate, not detract. We have designed our bus to be an artistic expression of the community, something that embodies the community’s priority on innovation and tolerance. Noise will not be a problem as we have engineered a creative solution to address this issue – indoor seating. Our bus will contain 16 indoor seats that allow customers to enjoy their meals shielded from the outside by insulated walls and windows.

The city has to redefine its definition of a mobile food business. Permitting is a simple matter of implementing realistic regulations specific to the operators. Just like any restaurant we are governed by laws designed to protect public safety. However, these rules and regs are often lower than what is considered standard at le truc. Bring it on DPH, we’re ready for you.

If you love street food come out and support the cause. The board of supervisors is meeting at 10:30 AM at City Hall. Hugh and I will be there representing not only le truc but also the street food industry in general. There is power in numbers and it is up to the people of San Francisco to turn out and be heard on this issue. Come one, come all – together we will make sure that San Francisco continues to be tolerant of a person’s right to choose an alternative to the norm.

June 30, 2010

Le Truc Street Food Project (posted by Blake Tally)

I am an entrepreneur working on a street food project in San Francisco.  The purpose of this blog is to share my experience (both bad and good) as a restaurateur.  Please join me on my journey to raise $170,000 while changing how people think about street food.  Roach coach?  No, BROACH COACH.