For more than two decades I’ve scoured planet in search of all things new, different and exciting from a culinary perspective. Professionally, I spent a great deal of time sourcing obscure ingredients from every conceivable corner of the earth… Thai rice fields, Indian shrimp farms, Italian cheese plants, Chilean Salmon farms and even rice stick noodles from Singapore. The list is wonderfully incredible. We often joked, my former team and I, that the above could only be sourced from the easterly slopes of semi-extinct volcanos between the hours of 1200-0200 having been harvested by blindfolded celestial beings wearing orange jumpsuits. (Supply Chain humor) You want it when? 5X a week throughout the country? For how much? Less than or equal to free? Nostalgic times without a doubt…
From a personal perspective, the above also meant that I had countless opportunities to absorb one culture to the next while enjoying heartfelt conversations, a belly laugh or two and several fantastic meals!!! Cultural experiences on steroids of which I am truly grateful. Interestingly, my most favored culinary memories aren’t those of dining within Michelin Star restaurants. (Wonderful experiences without a doubt) Instead, obscure roadside restaurants throughout Southeast Asia and or a nondescript steak house in Southern Chile are my personal favorites. A home-cooked meal in Southern India was amazing as well, but the mystery illness from earlier in the week lowered the excitement level just a bit. (FYI, drinking Delhi shower water = Volcanic “Delhi Belly”) Food for thought, my fellow food enthusiasts…
I share the above because it paints a picture to the lengths at which we will go to source, distribute, prepare and ultimately eat our food. How many of us take the time to consider the precision at which one or more supply chain teams must operate such that we are able to drink our favorite morning beverage at Starbucks in Dubai? Any thoughts? A step further, is it too farfetched to envision a supply chain team focused on delivering coffee, cheesecakes and or french fries to the moon in the not so distant future? “I’d like a Grande, extra hot, light whip, cinnamon dolce latte… Easy on the gravity, please.” Change is obviously a constant throughout our food service industry at which successful velocity is measured in days or weeks vs. months or years.
Speaking of success, who hasn’t discussed “Impossibly-Beyond” this week? At what lengths are we adapting to animal protein alternatives as an industry? Are we ahead of the wave or behind it? Some would argue that they are in fact embracing change by way of launching a “late to the party” protein alternative. As CEO for a day, why wouldn’t you want to be first out of the gate with “Impossibly-Beyond?” Private equity pressures? Safety in numbers? Lack of vision? Brand hubris? I get it… It’s probably better to build a second Tahitian themed restaurant in the middle of Iowa supported by stretch distribution where spoiled produce and habitually late deliveries equals complete guest satisfaction. “Quality escapes us…” I suspect that we will see more from “Impossibly-Beyond” as science continues to endorse if not altogether embrace the product. I’ve included a couple of informational videos worth a listen…
Supply Chain practitioners spend a great deal of time questioning the status quo while simultaneously searching for “better, faster & smarter” throughout their individual networks. As an example, many if not all of us can buy semi-ripe avocados from Mission, Calavo and others for contracted price points. Yes? (Assuming availability of course) Thus, it’s incredibly exciting to see “Big Brain on Brad” ideas or advancements as they enter the market. Conceptually, I am really loving “Freight Farms” at the moment. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/some-urban-farmers-are-going-vertical-1496692326) How are you getting your leafy greens? Are they fresh? How many food safety recalls have you experienced this month? What if you could control ALL of your leafy green issues throughout your urban locations while simultaneously receiving DAILY deliveries? HUGE!!! A step further, what if you could introduce an ozonated washing process into your vertical purveyor’s operation? HUGE again!!! This stuff gets me excited; I apologize.
I mention the above because I have lived through far too many produce recalls in recent history. The offenders are traditionally the same, right? (Cilantro, Spinach, Romaine, etc.) How much is enough? The accompanying article from Reuters projects the vertically grown produce market to reach $6 Billion USD by the end of 2022 where YOY gains are in the strong double digits. (https://www.reuters.com/brandfeatures/venture-capital/article?id=82568) Impressive? Imagine vertically grown leaf lettuce on your “Impossibly-Beyond” Burger? The branding possibilities are quite interesting in my opinion. What kind of story could you tell your customers in this case? HUGE!!! Mind you, I remain perfectly content with my IN-N-Out burger as this blog goes to press.
The last tidbit that excites me related to this submission involves that of “Imperfect Produce” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36IlKmmjV9s) and “Borderlands Foodbank.” (tps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnRsfHxWyLI) Imperfect Produce philosophically interests me for two reasons. One, take a drive on Interstate 5 through the middle of California. What do you see? Mile after mile of produce requiring precious resources to be grown where WATER is KING. My assumption is that pesticides continue to dot the agricultural landscape as well. Why further exacerbate a number of issues by throwing away produce? Its destructive as well as wasteful. Second, we have food-challenged individuals throughout our country… Black, Brown, White, Yellow and Purple of all ages. I particularly struggle with hunger as a societal phenomena because it often parallels abundance and waste throughout our country. Please research our food-friends at Borderlands Foodbank as they endeavor to make a difference where waste and hunger is concerned.
One thousand words or less… Easily digestible while committing to memory, right? A few of the topics presented above are indeed worthy of additional substance, one or two of which I’ll kick down the street a bit further at a later date. Until then, please take a moment to think about your food a bit differently.
“A recipe has no soul, YOU as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.”-Thomas Keller