One year later
"What would we be without wishful thinking..." summarizes how I feel looking back at the first year of The Farm Belly. Why a food truck? I was tired of working 12-16 hours for someone else's business. I missed birthdays and holidays and made many other sacrifices typical of restaurant life. I wanted my own venture, where I could determine my own hours, be mobile, and meet new people while doing what I love. A food truck seemed like the best fit. I wanted to source my food from local farms to showcase the delicious produce, dairy, meat and seafood produced by the hard working farmers I've been privileged to know during the 20+ years I've been a chef. My partner Lisa convinced me that starting my own business was the right decision. We tossed around potential names until Farm Belly came to me.
I chose breakfast because it's the meal that makes me happiest to cook. I love the idea of a customer starting their day with a fresh, cooked to order meal and heading off to begin their day feeling satiated and happy. I shared my plan with the farmers I worked with, who were very supportive and excited. I started with Blue Slope Farm, Smyth’s Trinity Farm, Stone Gardens Farm, Starlight Gardens, Waldingfield Farm, Massaro Community Farm, Truelove Farms, Riverbank Farm, Woodland Farm, Sugar Maple Farms, Gentle Giant Farm, Beltane Farm, New Haven Farms and George Hall Farm. None of the farms could supply me with enough eggs so I sourced them from The Farmer’s Cow, a group of six Connecticut dairy farms that supply dairy and eggs throughout Connecticut. I knew I'd serve coffee from The Coffee Pedaler, a local, artisanal café that's a New Haven favorite. Our sandwiches are served on brioche buns and biscuits handmade by Whole G Bakery, another local spot that makes exceptional baked goods. We celebrated our opening day at a farmer’s market operated by CitySeed, a local nonprofit that helps New Haven residents access fresh, local food.
My best friend, Jamie Ficker, a highly talented art director, designed the perfect logo, which reflects my business goals of quality, spontaneity, and fun. The seed for our collaboration was planted many years ago when we first met. I told her I wanted my own restaurant someday and she enthusiastically responded that she would do all the design work.
Our first year has been a blast! We've had the opportunity to cater weddings, birthday parties, retirement parties, company events, local events, and block parties. We've been at the Wooster Square farmer’s market, food truck festivals, art events in Westville, and in many of Elm City’s neighborhoods. Although I’m behind the wheel, at the grill, taking orders, going to farms, answering emails, and balancing the books, I couldn't be happier wearing all of these hats. There would be no Farm Belly without the continued support of my family, friends, and the community of New Haven. I owe extra special thanks to: the staff at CitySeed, Ryan Taylor, the CT farmers, my incredibly accomplished friend Jamie Ficker, Sue Harris, who in her own way changed my life, Harper Keehn, and most importantly Elizaveta who is my rock, confidant and makes everything possible.