While I was in Asheville, NC for the day on May, 2nd. (well, actually, it was really just a few hours, but it felt much longer!), I got to stroll through the lovely downtown area as well as visit food trucks in four different locations. As I have mentioned before, crisscrossing through a city to visit food trucks is an efficient and happy way to see different neighborhoods and areas of a city in a very short period of time. And, as much as I'd enjoy getting back to Asheville to spend more time, I do feel like I got a good overview of this charming and beautifully situated city during my short visit. You can read more about my time in Asheville at Our Asheville Visit!
Jeremiah and his wife Nicole own and operate the Farm to Fender food truck in Asheville, NC. I've been familiar with Jeremiah for quite some time. We both attended and graduated from Johnson & Wales University and he's one of many university graduates who I know that are now operating a food truck. I was excited to visit him at his truck just two weeks before he celebrated his one year anniversary of opening his truck.
It turned out to be great fun and a good time catching up with Jeremiah and now, this week, to feature my fellow Johnson & Wales alum in this week’s interview!
Eric: It just so happens that you and I both went to Johnson & Wales University. I received a degree in marketing, and I believe you received a culinary degree. Tell me how that has benefited you as a business owner?
Jeremiah: I received a culinary and business degree. They have both helped greatly. My education helped me learn the fundamentals of cooking and especially helpful in teaching me the business and accounting side of being a small business owner.
Eric: When we met in person you mentioned a chef that you worked under who you consider a mentor. Is there one specific thing you learned from him that has stuck with you and helped you with the food truck?
Jeremiah: A quote from Chef Fred Nueville in Charleston SC "When you wake up in the morning you can think to yourself, I can get through the day OR you can think to yourself, I am going to do everything today just a little bit better." I have built on that philosophy and have added the idea to try to be: “A little more professional and a little more kick ass than everyone else"
Eric: What date did the first truck first go on the road to serve customers?
Jeremiah: May 14, 2013
Eric: Your first anniversary just passed! Congrats! How did you celebrate?
Jeremiah: I forgot and worked a normal shift. How exciting!!
Eric: Well, even though it is late, I hope you find a time to celebrate! How did you come up with the name Farm to Fender?
Jeremiah: My father in law came up with the name. After 94 other attempts we landed on Farm to Fender
Eric: Where did you buy your truck? Did you do a lot of work to it yourself?
Jeremiah: We found it on Craigslist, it was virtually ready to go.
Eric: What do you expect the food truck scene to look like in Asheville in 3 years?
Jeremiah: Quite simple: I expect it to be booming!
Eric: How far will you travel to do an event with the food truck?
Jeremiah: As long as someone is willing to pay our gas cost and travel time, we will go to the ends of the earth to share our food!
Eric: What did you do before owning the truck?
Jeremiah: I have been in kitchens for 20 years. Just prior to owning the truck I was the Executive Chef at UNC Asheville
Eric: Is there a memorable story about the moment that you decided to start the food truck?
Jeremiah: It was all done pretty professionally. I asked my wife, "If I can prove to you in a business plan that we can make money, can we do it?" The rest is history!
Eric: Your business plan must have been pretty solid! When I visited your truck, you were parked outside a custard shop. Tell me a bit more about that relationship and your plans to expand?
Jeremiah: We started parking there in late October of 2013. Shortly afterward we realized the benefit of being parked outside a location that offered indoor dining, restrooms and plenty of parking for our guests. Tom the owner let us use his space as a prep area, but it did not have a fully equipped kitchen. I love the space, the location and everything that the site has to offer, BUT we needed a full time, real deal kitchen. I told Tom, the owner, if he ever had intent to sell that I would like first right to refusal. Well, he is not ready to sell but he is ready to retire from his custard business of 12 years and Farm to Fender wants to help make that happen. Our plan is to take over the space completely this summer and keep the custard program in tact at least through the season while the full kitchen is built and installed. After that, a beer and wine bar will be brought in to help keep the diners happy along with live bluegrass and jazz music. By fall 2014 we should be a full swing Food Truck Beer and Wine bar serving local fare from a variety of local talented food truck chefs.
Eric: When I visited your truck it was the only time a food truck served me using china and not disposable plates. Do you do that for everyone or did I get special treatment?
Jeremiah: We do that for everyone that dines in with us at our Sweetened Creek Location. It saves us money and gives more of a restaurant feel to our great food.
Eric: What percentage of time does your truck do street service, catering, and events?
Jeremiah: 80 street 20 catering
Eric: How would you describe your food?
Jeremiah: New American Eclectic
Eric: How often do you offer specials or change your menu?
Jeremiah: We offer 4-7 daily features, and a menu with 11-15 items that change quarterly. We are the cross utilization masters!
Eric: Do you have a particularly memorable story about a reaction a customer had to your food, or special experience someone had at your truck?
Jeremiah: I had a young woman jumping up and down in excitement because she was about to eat at our truck again. She'd been craving a return trip. Also the world famous celebrity chef Myron Mixon
Eric: Is there a food truck that you have not eaten at that you would like to try?
Jeremiah: Root Down Food Cart (that recently moved from Charlotte to Asheville)
You can learn more about Farm to Fender and where they will be Serving Now at http://www.foodtrucksin.com/farm-fender