270. Streatery Farm-To-Table Food Truck | Sarah Manuel | Havre, MT

I have lots of guests that have been booking and lots of great interviews coming up! A Montana rockstar running the food truck here in Montana! 

Tell us a little about yourself.

I did grow up on a farm and a ranch

A little bit about my past

I was raised in a world of agriculture

I grew up on a farm and ar ranch that was not always organic, my dad converted to organic in 2007

I was 10 years old it was interesting as a young child to see that process of old ways and shifting to new ways of organic and

how much better everything becomes with that process

with that conversion

we moved to a lot of diversified crops

Before we had converted to organic we were just doing the same old thing everyone else does. Switched to doing a lot of

wheat

and same

clover

alfalfa

growing ancient grains

  • kamut
  • farro
  • lentils
  • chickpeas

while we were learning and growing all those

I was also at a pretty young age learning to bake

native to Montana at that time

I think that was where I got a pretty strong base

with working with local and available at any given time.

That’s the farming side of it.

We raised cattle as well. So that was really interesting for me to grow up working the trails and the

to grow up working cows

trail them

calving season everything you go through

on the organic side

everything 100% organic

grass fed

everything takes longer

I remember watching food inc when it came out

I remember seeing the vast difference competed to the feed lots they have pictured!

Everything how everything is so crammed

compared to our open pasture

administering antibiotics and growth hormone

we were just allowing our cattle to grow naturally it takes longer but I believe it does allow for a healthful product

and a product that tastes better

Through all that processI think I gained a really good appreciating for the organic food system

extra time and thought that goes into it

That’s the same for a lot of people who are gardening

I love to have conversations that they are trying

some are working and some aren’t

learning what grows well here and what doesn’t

how to utilize in cooking.

Did you have a lot of brothers and sisters? You seem like you had a very mature upbringing. Mike and I were talking about chores the other day.

similar upgrading

yeah I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters

I’m the 2nd oldest so I just have one older brother.

We’re ranging in ages in 23 down to 7.

I think growing up especially with so many younger siblings inputs a little bit of extra responsibility automatically to a person.

I think that was some part of it

cooking was something because I did like to do it, but I didn’t always cook because I wanted to

had to do but it was something we had a lot of people to feed

working on the ranch

not always great help

had a lot of kids

We were out there whenever we needed to be.That built a really good work ethic I appreciate all of those opportunities

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

Yeah! You could say, we did have a pretty good garden for the majority of my childhood

wouldn’t classify myself as a green thumb I am better at cooking then gardening. I enjoy the process. I had my little herb garden on the back porch in college.

  • tons of root vegetables
  • melons
  • corn one year
  • strawberries
  • rhubarb

Pretty standard things you could say

definitely lots of salad greens and tomatoes.

Now you’re up in the northern part of Montana, close to the border of Canada. Very cold right. Not easy to grow food.

It’s not, unless you have a greenhouse

even still there’s challenges. I’m about as close to Canada as you can get. It takes about 40 minutes to drive to the border.

from where I live

It definitely does present some challenges

climate but there’s ways to work around it.

I think that’s where experimenting with what really grows well in Montana. There have been a lot of farmers around the area spending time.

fruit trees

varieties of tomatoes and peppers

what’s gonna produce the best in the soil in the time frame that we have. Very different from other states across the country.

I was just going through our garden journals from when Mike puts the seeds in the ground, for the most part it’s between the 7th and 10th of April, cool starts, lettuce, spinach, peas, etc. Stuff that can’t have a frost, it’s more like green beans etc. it’s right after our anniversary in the first week in June.

I also have dates of when did we first harvest it, and things like, I thought we didn’t really harvest asparagus but actually it was for like 5 years. A lot of my guests have said keeping data was good.

Even so, I think your ahead then I am with the gardening data

I agree with you, I love to analyze data! I haven’t done it as much with gardening but especially for the STREATERY this past year.

I closed for the winter and so it’s been a time to rest and regroup

closed through

I have been going through numbers and analyzing what worked and what didn’t

  • what days of week?
  • what events better?
  • which menu items did the best?

I could spend hours pouring over the information.

Why don’t you tell us all about Streatery and your food truck and how all that got started.

Getting into a little bit of the agricultural background.

Now getting into the culinary realm I entered a few years ago, it all kind of started gradually. Like I can’t remember a point where I decided I want to be a chef. It just sort of accumulation of events in high school I did a lot of farmer’s markets

mostly baked good

local

I would go to the mountains and forage for

  • June berries
  • currant berries

ancient grains we were growing and grind the

local honey

as many things I could get my hands on. Feature all of those local ingredients.

My senior year of high school I took a trip to California to the bay area. I thought this was interesting.

I interviewed Liz Carlisle!

Liz Carlisle http://amzn.to/1QDkvgG

So, awesome Liz Carlisle wrote this amazing book called Lentil Underground

farmers in Montana who were some of the first people growing organic lentils and just that process because now Montana is the number one producer of lentils. She goes through the whole story!

They are who are your parents?

Chapter 12, in

Lentil Underground

the gospel of lentils

because of that she flew my family my siblings and everyone out to California when she launched the book

It wasn’t just my family it was all of the families featured in the book, and we stayed in this huge Airbnb house and had a great time and got to meet all the people who were reading the book and explained about the process of everything

through that trip I made a lot of great connections.

One of them, are here near Havre and they farm as well they are Doug and Anna Crabtree with Vicious farms. On that trip, they sort of casually offered me a job in between that summer between high school and college.

I had decided to go to culinary school but didn’t have a plan beyond that. They hired me on as their culinary specialist and I lived out at their farm M-F cooking for their farm crew.

At the time, I felt highly unqualified. It turned out really great! I loved every minute of it. It gave me freedom to cook whatever I was feeling that today but also to use what was readily averrable and  locally grown

We were totally tracking each other on

  • what’s important in the food world
  • what’s nutritious
  • how can we utilize these things?

they were really great to work with. I think I got lucky to get that opportunity.

Then in the fall I attended Culinary Institute of Montana in Kalispell. It takes a little under 2 years to get an associates degree. I graduated in Dec 2016 and kind of just craving an adventure at that point. I had always leaned towards entrepreneurship and self employment and tie that into the food world, so the most obvious choice was to start a restaurant but that seemed daunting at the time.

I actually moved to Maui

went with the WWOOF program

worldwide

They have this great online directory

wwoofusa.com

You can essentially type in the type of agriculture you are interested in or you can type in the city or state that you would like to

go have an experience

You can stay from a week to a month to several months! Depends on what you are looking for and what the the operation needs

you go and the standard agreement is you work 20 hours a week then in return you get free room and board so some places that means they feed you 3 meals a day someplace that means give you staple ingredients and a kitchen

literally ground breaking

  • We made raised beds
  • worked on some beehives
  • managed a farm stand

It was very rugged. I actually lived in a tent for a month. We didn’t have running water and we had to haul that up to a top of a mountain.

Did you get to go to the beach?

It was hard work but it wasn’t’ very long so there was definitely lots of free time.

the farm in Maui

You could see the ocean from the mountains of Maui called upcountry. 

You could see the ocean and beach but to actually get there you would have to walk a few miles to the beach. Since none of us had cars. Between that and hitchhiking, so we did make it to the beach a couple of times.

There were other people there? Were you scared going from Montana to Hawaii? Were your parents like oh my?

My parents were nervous but I was ready. I had a skype interview. I had my tent and a general plan and they picked me up at the airport. After a while I got a phone call from mom after I was there a couple of days she was like I know that you landed in Hawaii, but never confirmed you made it to the farm. I thought I should check.

There was quite a big group of people

  • CA
  • North Carolina
  • Montreal
  • Netherlands
  • Colorado

It was a great group of people

work together

have adventures together

Quite a few of us ended up switching to another farm after a month.

permaculture farm

rancho relaxo

first I had learned of permaculture

found this farm online through the website

said it was fruit orchard

Did mention permaculture but I didn’t know what to expect and so in my mind I thought it would be rows of

  • orange
  • avocados
  • mangos
  • papayas

permaculture

looked like the garden of eden!

mystical

You walk in and there is this winding dirt road going through this tropical forage. Going on the first tour and he’s pointing!

there’s a banana tree

mango

coffee is growing

tilapia ponds

2 chicken coops

vegetables gardens

intermixed and benefiting from each other in turn!

That was a wonderful experience to see that different approach to agriculture.

While I was at that farm it didn’t take the owner long to learn I could cook. So we ended up

putting together a farm-to-table event while I was there!

We had a group of people come out to the farm.

A local hunter brought some venison tenderloin

lots of greens

eggs

veggies from the farm

featured as much local produce as we could get from markets and things

four course dinner with wine pairings

fantastic. IT was this little moment of paradise in my past.

Then the advent of Streatery came about a year later. I moved back home in the summer of 2017

To help out with a few things. We had a huge farm tour coming up.

We were also a little short handed, my dad needed me to help

  • sort cows
  • drive tractors

thing I hadn’t done in a long time after being away. It was good to get back into that

summer of 2017

Towards that fall, I noticed that we could possibly benefit from some direct marketing of our organic beef and pork had been implemented at that point.

I started applying for a grant

working for

  • a website
  • freezer
  • license

to distribute locally some of our meat products. While I was working with our business development centers, one of the representative told me hey there’s this vacant food truck that is just sitting behind a brewery in town

you should contact them

see if they are renting it or something, because I think if someone decided to do something it could be successful

I contacted the brewery

I didn’t think i would come to much. I thought what the heck I have time, I’ll just call them up and see what the plan is. I told them who I was

I had a culinary education and I had a farm-to-table style of cooking and they got back to me and we had a meeting. This was January of last year. We made up a contract so I could rent out the truck month to month.

park outside their brewery

any events

take it to them

thats how Streatery was born

Wow!

That’s interseting my step-daughter who runs a food truck, she is right outside a brewery and she thinks the location is key. They are so busy all the time. It’s a big recreation area, it’s 28 miles up to the wilderness for hiking, snow mobiling, and fishing! In the summer you can actually drive through to Glacier National Park. The brewery is not in town it’s out there. They have the pizza truck and sell pizza and salads they do a killing. Is that in a small town.

I’m curious what’s it called?

I think it’s called Fire and Slice. he has a pizza place in town and I think the food truck is at the brewery.

Well that’s really cool!

It’s definitely been great to work with the owners of the brewery. They are always giving me super good ideas and really supportive of any things I was thinking of trying. And just nice to have them as business mentors as well!

They are about to celebrate their 5th anniversary of the brewery open and so with them finishing 5 years and me finishing my first year, we have the same processing system, I can say, what do you think about these numbers?

this idea? or marketing things this way?

it is my business but having help is great.

I’m curious to here what numbers they tell you to look at

Michael and aaron are the owners of triple dog.

mechanically minded more so then I am

if something

this is an old truck that I have it is an old

1968 ford

it definitely had a couple of problems last year getting it from point a to point b sometimes so it was nice to not have to do it myself

getting involved but not winging it

It’s definitely been helpful along the way. They also chime in with ideas for new menu items.

That’s something I love about Streatery

unique is that

our menu is constantly changing

set menu for spring

summer

fall

but even within those set menus we are constantly introducing new menu items sometimes every week!

depending on what’s available

Last year I had people who have big greenhouse and garden

tomatoes and jalepenos

golden plum variety of tomato

so many couldn’t get rid of

fast enough

sent this message

we have these golden tomatoes

what to do with them. I said let me think about it and I’ll come up with something

The Hipster Chicks

I had this sourdough I had the locally bakery make for me out of Montana flour

garbanzo beans that I cooked down with garlic and other seasons. They were cooked enough so they lost their shape but didn’t blend like humus, so they still had texture to them.

sharp cheddar Montana cheese

sliced the golden tomatoes and put them on the sandwich and grilled it!

I served with a creamy cilantro curry dipping sauce. I called it the hipster chick!

It was something I featured for a couple of weeks to get through their golden tomatoes

Every once in a while I can feature something like the hipster chick. It was one of my most creative

eccentrics dishes that I have come up with the truck.

Havre is a huge agriculture community. It’s a very much meat and potatoes kind of town

except for a small group of people who would rather not. every once in a while I have 

still lots of specials that are like

smoked meatballs and mashed potatoes with IPA gravy

It’s delicious! I like that one!

It’s a fine line between super creative and using what’s available and everyone thinking your a hippy!

My husband is a very meat and potatoes, but he grows a lot of vegetables so he’s a little more adventurous.

So that food truck you went into already had a

You know it did have some things

counters

warmer

chest

we did add

I first toured the truck

mini fridge

chest freezer

The owners of the truck added in fryer with that we had to add a ventilation system which was tricker then we thought because it’s such a small space we had to have it customer built

small oven

for the truck

bought a big smoker to hook onto the back of the truck

I used it a little bit last summer but I hope to use that more this year

Getting a lot of smoked meats and a bit of barbecue. I did a smoked mac and cheese that went over really well.

tips for starting a truck

Definitely consider your potential menu

I know that can be really daunting just starting out because you don’t know what people will respond well too?

Or what will be available but if you can get a general idea of what you would like to cook that would be very helpful

especially if your truck doesn’t have equipment

for what was available

for example

the oven that I have it takes up so much powers

I have two generators on the back of the food truck but the oven if it is on pretty much takes an entire generator just to power that

something to consider

so either get a huge generator or come up with recipes and menu items that wouldn’t take a lot of power

I do use the oven use it for things when the oven can be on before I am open and then put it in the warmer that takes up less electricity

I wouldn’t even have thought having a generator

I’ve never worked on one. She’s in a permanent place and they are hooked up to power and then I think they have a wood fired pizza oven.

that’s really interesting I’ve thought of doing not pizza but flat bread

dipping sauces

require oven

you know the past year I just used the generators because I didn’t want to have extension cords running into the

closer to the building all the time.

We’re thinking about parking it closer to the building and wiring the electricity into the building but making it detachable so I can still  leave to go to events too

We’ve talked about a few of those things. And we talked about water yeah so that’s the thing

For a normal day the brewery I could fill the sinks, we would be fine not run out of water. But at events I can’t drive the truck around while the sinks are full of water it would splash around.

so, what I ended up doing is I just went to the store bought really nice 5 gallon buckets that had water sealed lids and I bought 4 of them.

I would

  • fill up my water tank
  • fill up those four 5 gallon buckets

so I could bring them to the event so I cold use them for the dishwashing watrer and still have water in the tank for 

  • hand-washing
  • various cooking

3 compartment sinks

20 gallons

filled up for washing dishes doesn’t include 

  • mopping
  • hand-washing

necessary

Water is huge so either get a ginormous water tank or have a plan in place but it also depends how you use the truck too

because like I said, the days at the brewery it wasn’t hard to haul a 5 gallons but eventually I got a 50 foot garden hose and before the brewery was open run the hose and fill it up that way.

The first 6 years I was married to my hsuband we didnt have running water at all and the last two winters we’ve had some challenges, so we haven’t had running water the last two winters so I completely understand.

it just, I can’t believe it took me so long to buy a hose

I was getting pretty buff from carrying these buckets of water everyday, I was walking around the store and I was exhausted I saw these hoses were on sale for 10 and the next season I’m looking forward to that.

We got one of these hoses that rolls up flat and is really high pressure. I was watching the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up book woman on GMA this morning. Have you seen that movie Chef about the guy who travels back from Florida with his son?

 

Everyone keeps saying I should watch it.

Building

  • my team
  • connections around the state
  • working with different producers
  • have visited each producer that’s growing food for me
  • go visit the other farms that
  • produce and dairy products

That’s something I’m looking forward to!

  • taking on more events
  • more catering this year

Whats Catering like?

it can be either/or

depends what the person was looking for

Catering was something I never really advertised but so many people ask me about catering so i think I will start easing into it, I did do al ittle bit of it last year.

Some people, I catered a wedding and they want the truck for the ambience

food truck kind of feel

backyard style of wedding

We did street tacos and food kabobs really cute kind of event.

Some people want more casual for a business meeting like soup and sandwiches kind of thing using local ingredients that sort of thing more thought put into the presentation.

Then I’m also looking to do more

farm-to-table style events out on the ranch

something my family and I have kind of been working towards kind of very gradually.

implementing a commercial kitchen on the ranch

food truck prep  but also in the future host 

various farm to table events

smaller upscale

maybe not tons of people but low key good food

bring in local

  • farmers
  • people in agriculture
  • fellow chefs

to speak and talk about the food and what’s going on in agriculture in Montana

Those are some of the ideas currently occupying my brain for next year

I would say for anyone considering getting into an industry my one piece of advice coming to me now

plan everything now

A lot will probably change as you go but the more you can plan ahead the better off you will be.

That’s been very helpful for me. Last year I had like a month and half to get the 

  • menu written
  • printed logo design
  • get the truck functional
  • schedule events

will have reopened

Now I’ve had 4 months to

  • decompress and 
  • plan and
  • write new menus 
  • think about new events we can do

powerful

What data can you recommend and how many people are on your team?

Last year, I had 4 people part time I have one other girl who’s interested and enthusiastic in joining for the summer that will bring us up to 5

I have one or two I am thinking about adding to the team

increasing the hours of the members I currently have

We’re switching days open and I’m still talking to everyone’s schedules how to make it work

I’ve been thinking about the potential in the people who work last year and how can we best utilize everyone’s talents in a productive way

with data

I love to analyze everything but I’m no expert

One thing I have been dwelling

the Prado Principal

rule that 80% of the results are because of 20% of inputs

An Italian who noticed that 80% land owned by 20% of population

wealth owned by 20%

average person only wears 20% of closet

really analyzing that with menu items

Keeping that rule in the back of my head?

20%

what did people really respond to well

same with events

what work did we put into last year that really brought fourth bulk of positive result? as opposed to what did we do that didn’t make that big of a difference

different for every business

  • community
  • specific look at this
  • principal

You’re really wise for your age. Do you use social media since you are more tech savvy and grew up in a more tech world.

yeah! I do utilize Facebook for meat distribution and Streatery and Instagram

I haven’t used Instagram as much for Streatery will do that more for 2019 season

@streaterymt

pretty effective like it to keep everyone updates

adds if we are going to be at a certain event

I love to use Facebook to post

  • give credit to people growing our ingredients
  • cheese
  • beer from
  • Triple Dog
  • beef in meatballs is from prairie grass ranch

give credit

pretty good platform

I think fb has and Instagram are both valuable tools in their own way

wider audience for the content

Instagram is growing

focusing more FB ease into Instagram

yeah, one thing FB that I’m planning on implementing this year is  just like for every month we are open I will pin post to the top of a business page have an image that has our schedule. 

I am hoping people will get used to see that

Streatery will be at these three events at these locations at these times

  • Triple Dog at these times
  • farmers’ market these weeks

so it’s a little more clear

post all the days

the day before

one image

thank you so much for having me

I appreciate that opportunity

I feel like Facebook is so much easier to share a link then Instagram is.

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