Food is a lot more than just sustenance – it’s a way of life. Just ask Chris Jerome, founder of Hawkers Market
and soon-to-be Hawkers Wharf in North Vancouver. Hawkers Market is a traveling, underground food market that acts as a launchpad for foodpreneurs in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. As a true foodie and businessman, Chris is usually busy tasting his foodpreneur’s creations when he’s not mentoring them or coveting the most mouth-watering spots on the West Coast. Check out our full interview with Chris below:
Food Entrepreneurs are a sensitive bunch. They do what they do generally to make people happy because in turn it makes them happy. They don’t really work a day in their lives if that’s true.
What’s it like to be a foodpreneur, mentoring other foodpreneurs?
They generally have different motivations in business than money and are heavily influenced by art, music and people. Food Entrepreneurs are a unique bunch, like sensitive artists.
Individuality. These things touch all our senses and when you eat or drink something that has been crafted with blood, sweat, tears and a good deal of frustration and trial and error, you are bound to have an individual experience. When you are experiencing something that’s been hand crafted it’s a soulful experience.
What is it about noodles, oysters, and beer that gets you most excited?
Hands down incredible. I am incredibly fortunate to be working with a great team dedicated to creating a unique food destination that will be Canada’s first and only food hub. Everyone on our team brings a great deal to the table and shares a common vision we are all pretty stoked about. The work itself is fascinating – we are working on removing several startup barriers that food entrepreneurs commonly face in the beginning stages. Being successful here means watching them all succeed first.
You’re about to launch Hawkers Wharf in North Vancouver this May – what has that experience been like?
Integrity and their commitment to it. Individuality sometimes takes several trials to come out, and sometimes it’s present at first in the food. Sometimes we coax it out after trial and error. What makes them successful in the end is staying committed to the pursuit of their company’s goals. If they are doing this, they are successful. Growth and money will follow.
How do you judge a foodpreneur’s chance at success?
Integrity first and foremost in both food and personality. Committing to be an individual and distilling that into each detail of their food, product and company.
What are Hawkers Market’s “must-haves” when accepting new Hawkers?
To me it’s quality, bar-none. Eating is situational: sometimes you want nutritious, sometimes you want indulgence. I always look for quality behind the brands and foods I eat. There’s nothing worse than a bad meal. That sticks with you.
When it comes to good eats, what’s most important: nutrition, taste, or cost?
Well my Grandfather who was in radio taught me everything I know about being an entrepreneur. Bourdain kicked off my interest in food many years back when Kitchen Confidential was released, and that was the ignition point. Many chefs I have worked with have also inspired me, including Heston Blumenthal for his intelligence and Rene Redzepi for his dedication to moving food culture forward.
Who are your foodpreneur inspirations?
I have been really into the Brazilian Chef, Alex Atala, lately who blends social responsibility with his food. When you eat in his restaurant or look at his food, it’s all about the Amazonian people and his commitment to tell their story.
Dan Barber and his new book The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food is critically relevant for those of us in food. I revisit authors like Earl Nightingale and Napoleon Hill on a continual basis – they have timeless advice.
Here in Vancouver, The Ramen Butcher and Mosquito Dessert are new and interesting. Hi Five is grilled cheese open late, how cool is that? Another couple of YVR favs that have been in the game a little longer and are always on point are Burdock and Co. and The Farmers Apprentice.
Can you recommend any particularly mouth-watering joints where one can get their eat on?
Food trucks are a tough gig in Canada, even here in Vancouver. I know many chefs who have started food trucks and I work with them all the time – they are some of the most dedicated and creative people I know. Food trucks are a way to start out as food entrepreneur, and have opened up doors for entrepreneurs with less capital. The culture is growing and while there are more, I think the best is still yet to come.
What’s your take on the growing trend of food trucks?
Food and restaurants are always something I have spent big on, since I eat out a lot on a constant basis. My advice is to hit up a new food joint for what they are known for, or stick to neighbourhood, craft spots that are always reasonable. I think you can get twice the meal at startup restaurant joints compared to the big box boys. Stick to local restaurants, and they will take care of you always. Their business depends on it.
What’s your best “do more (or eat more), spend less” tip?