Buying our own farm

I’m excited to say that the dream of buying our own farm may finally become a reality.

We’re nowhere near the ‘sign on the dotted line’ stage yet, but we are now looking at a number of suitable sites around the country.

This is a huge step, as a few people have reminded me. And yes there are considerable risks involved. But that’s nothing new for Cucina. In fact, our whole business model is high risk, with so much riding on the wow factor of the food we put in front of our customers.

And isn’t that how all of the truly great companies do things? Staying true to the big idea or vision and then figuring out ways to make it all work?

The other day an interviewer asked me if the drive to become our own supplier was because we were dissatisfied with our current suppliers. Well if that was the case, how could we possibly have achieved all that we have over the past 8 or so years? We wouldn’t have been able to do it.

We’ve been able to implement our vision because of our suppliers – they’ve been able to give us the quality ingredients that our brand demands.

For me, becoming our own supplier makes complete sense because our big idea has always been putting the Cucina brand values into practice. The farm will help us do that at every stage in the process – from farm to fork.

When we first put trained chefs into school kitchens, nobody else was doing it. We did it and we made it work because our vision of bringing quality restaurant food to schools was what defined us.

And if we’re to stick to that vision, we must be pushing the boundaries further, all the time. The farm idea is about taking complete control of the quality by being both farmer and caterer. As such, it’s a logical move for us.

The Cucina success formula is simple: we do well because the kids love the food, in increasing numbers. But if you asked any of these customers why they loved the food, you can bet your life none of them would be talking about provenance, sustainability or ‘locally sourced’.

Neither would the majority of them be mentioning stealthy eating, 5 a day or any of that stuff – that’s our territory, and our trick if you like – making the most wholesome food look, smell and taste completely delicious to keep them coming back for more.

It’s vital for any school caterer to consider all the elements of their target market – not just those eating the food, but also those whose responsibility it is to look after their healthy development – the educational establishments and the parents. The drive to become our own supplier is very much about them too.

The farm certainly won’t be able to supply anything like all of our ingredients. At this stage it is looking like it will be pig products – pork, bacon and ham, as well as herbs, vegetables and fruit and possibly eggs and poultry. But we have a few things to do first, before any of that is decided!

It’s an exciting time, and I’ll certainly keep you posted on our progress.

Till next time,

Steve

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