When food makes dreams come true

OUR world is ruled by profit, growth, income, investment, benefit…any concept that means money.

Our world is managed by grey buildings, black suits, white shirts, brown suitcases, stressful deadlines, tired and closed faces. Our world seems to have lost its ‘joie de vivre’, the will to get up every morning and make the day better than the previous one. Where is this world going? Is life that bad? Is there any happiness left to keep us going? Are there any motivating, exciting and creative projects that get you out of bed every morning?

Yes, there are. There are people, like you and me, who decided one day that all conversations don’t need to start with the word money. People who believed that there was a much better life outside of their current job. People who wanted to live their dream and decided to be happy. Whatever the profit or the growth will be.

There are people who decide to quit their job and make the world a better place. How? By opening a restaurant, launching a cookie business or making and selling pies, cheese or bread.

There are people who realised that the smile of a costumer enjoying their product was more rewarding than several numbers on a pay slip.

For some people, there is the desire of bringing their favourite flavours from their country to the city they now live in.

Driven by the desire to eat fresh Indian street food with home flavours, Sam Singh; a former management consultant and Mathew Chandy a finance lawyer in the city; both quit their jobs at BCG and UBS and founded Mooli’s, the new place on Frith Street.

We have always been big foodies and are pretty good cooks, often working into the wee hours of the morning perfecting recipes. We’ve spent hours dry roasting spices, perfecting chutney recipes and braising beef. While we didn’t have any prior restaurant experience before starting to plan Mooli’s, we did however do short training stints in a number of kitchens

After many years eating sandwiches and salads at high street eat out places, the two young friends realised there was a market for fresh Indian street food of which the best representative was Roomali Roti, a combination of fillings, salsas, chutneys and salads all rolled in a fresh homemade roti.

But as in every business, even the smartest ideas take awhile before the dream comes true.

We spend months and months travelling in India looking for the best recipes, playing online poker to pay the rent, selling and testing mooli’s in the market and convincing the banks!

Their great sense of humour associated with a relentless enthusiasm and countless faith in their project was certainly the secret recipe that gave Sam and Mathew all the energy they needed to travel the world and meet very helpful people.

They teamed up with Raju Rawat, formerly trained at Benares, to develop the recipes and came up with 6 different flavours: Keralan Beef, Goan Pork, Goat, Chicken & Apple, Asparagus & Cumin Potatoes and Scrambled Paneer.

Everything started sometime in the winter of 2003 in cold Oxford. In 2008, Mooli’s Ltd. was founded and in November 2009, the first store opened in Soho.

The two friends now sells 300 moolies a day and when you asked them what their plans for the future are, the answer comes from the heart: “Mooli’s are not a power hungry multi national conglomerate. Yet.”… which, in the Mooli’s language means “We’d like everyone to know about our delicious Mooli’s and just why we are so different from every other place selling wraps, burritos or sandwiches. Once we feel like a brand and our product is sufficiently well developed, and that we can maintain our highest quality standards, we’d like to expand.”

The beginning of a great adventure.

And to know more about the secret of Mooli, have a look at this video made by the lovely Catty – http://www.thecattylife.com/2010/03/thecattylive-what-is-a-mooli/

50 Frith Street
London, W1D 4SQ

Mooli's on Urbanspoon

Some people need a close connection with customers and the pleasure of autonomy.

Wendy Wilson Bett worked at Cadbury for 21 years but she always knew she wanted to set up her own business one day and so, together with her colleague Ian, they approached Peter Ljungquist 2 years ago. They fell in love with his bakery and his brand – Peter’s Yard – and decided to join him and take the crisp breads into national distribution in the UK.

Peter’s Yard is before all a bakery in Scotland that makes artisan breads and where people can come and enjoy some Swedish cakes, soups, coffee, etc. but the crisp bread can also be found in selected retails stores across the UK.

Although I really enjoyed my previous job, I love the autonomy, lack of beaurocracy bureaucracy and accountability of running your own business and the close connection we have between customers and consumers. What more rewarding is there than to hear people saying they are addicted to your product?

The crisp bread from Peter’s Yard is truly addictive. Handmade to a traditional Swedish recipe using sourdough and natural ingredients, they are an healthy alternative to a fresh baguette (and I’m the one writing these words..), Their crispiness made them the best combo with soft cheeses (I will keep the baguette for the hard cheese…) and you will no doubt create the Wow factor by serving them as canapés with toppings.

Passionate about their products and full of ambition, the team is working on new recipes and sizes that they will soon be launching and they’re hoping to open a “To Go” outlet for those who don’t have time to stay and relax. The crisp bread has already received great support from well known restaurants such as the Gleneagles Hotel, Hotel Du Vin, Mal Maison and Madsen in London.

But beyond the business itself, their ultimate goal is to educate people about great bread. That a delicious crisp bread is another lovely type of bread, not a worthy but unappetising diet product.

I loved working at a big company and when I’m packing and posting my own samples, I really miss my lovely PA from the old days, but it’s impossible to imagine going back to big Corporate life again now. We have a long way to go, but we will make this work because we believe in it and its so much fun!

Long life to Peter’s Yard and hopefully a shop will open in London one day…

Peter’s Yard
27 Simpson Loan
Edinburgh, Midlothian EH3 9GG
0131 228 5876

For some people, it’s the need to escape from the office world and getting back to their first love

Sarah Pettigree used to work as a management accountant, working within organisations providing management with financial information for 10 years. Long country walks around the North Norfolk lanes with her business partner Nell helped her to plan her escape from office work and start their own business together.

The refusal to have a proper permanent job was fairly symptomatic of my growing detachment from the world of big business.

Both had similar business focuses, a shared love for food and agriculture and the saddleback pigs owned by Nell. The two women decided to combine forces to set up their pie company, Perfect Pie.
They first looked to other established Norfolk businesses to make the pies but quickly realised that no one could both cope with the number of pies they needed to make and the quality they wanted to achieve.

We therefore leased a building in an old flint barn, looking out over the sea, and turned it into our pie kitchen and bakery…And the rest is history

Enjoying a pie from Sarah and Nell is more than just eating it. The pie comes with cooking instructions than turns your kitchen into a alchemy laboratory. From the glaze to make to the gelatin to inject with a seringe, the preparation is a lot of fun… and all the ingredients  are provided! And as Gilles Coren would say:

The pie was deeply porky without any nagging gaminess, spicy without being peppery, firm and insistent in its flavour and very lean, with just enough fat to lard the mouthful but not grease the palate.

Sarah and Nell have lots of ideas for introducing new products such as a bespoke wedding pies, “which has already had quite a lot of admiring attention“. They are investing locally, with the help of a funky Pie-aggio, to find and meet the customers by going to where they are. They are also looking at packaging – which would open up new opportunities.

In a year’s time, we still want to stay a company that focuses on excellent quality and ingredients – just a bit bigger and better known

All the best to you ladies!

Perfect Pie
01263 860 944

A story of people who decided that sitting behind a desk was the most boring thing to do in life and it would be much more fun to make biscuits

Baccalaureate, business school, diploma, life could have been that simple for Augustin Paluel-Marmont and Michel de Rovira.

Once comfortably installed in a job, we started to get bored, so we  therefore decided to give a new start to our career and crisscross through Paris to edit a guide about the best fresh baguettes in the French capital. Our love for good food and fresh ingredients has always been what made us get up every morning and we wanted to feel the same in our jobs.

Quickly, they realised that there was a market for good quality biscuits and begun to produce hand-crafted recipes. They started selling their biscuits in the market and convinced the most hyped places in Paris to sell their products and target savvy costumers, the trendsetters. The Michel & Augustin brand was ready to conquer … Paris!

Their secret is very simple: Homemade fresh quality products supported by a unique and spontaneous communication strategy essentially based on nerve and storytelling.

Competing against the biggest brands, they teamed up with the most creative team to come up with the craziest idea ever. The one that would make everybody talk about their brand. And it worked! They managed to provide tens of journalists with one of their products “La Vache a Boire” while the press was attending a press conference organised by Danone, their main competitor. They even positioned their yogurt next to the glass of Bill Gates during a Parisian talk, dear Bill was constantly being filmed with his small bottle from Michel & Augustin.

Their delicious products are now distributed across France and we’re hoping that the yogurts and biscuits and other fresh mashed fruits will one day cross the Channel!

Michel & Augustin
151 Rue de Billancourt
92100 Boulogne Billancourt
0033 1 53 28 26 40

My blog has given me the opportunity to find my dream job. I know people amongst you who dream of opening a cafe, becoming a chef, setting up their own food business company or simply making people happy by cooking their favourite meals every day. You have gold in your hand, don’t spoil it. Make your dream comes true.

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4 thoughts on “When food makes dreams come true

  1. Hi Mathilde,

    What an inspiring post!

    It can be scary following your dreams, but you sum up the alternative brilliantly in the introduction.

    There’s a great book by Seth Godin called ‘Linchpin’, which you might enjoy that talks all about this.

    I also find Chris Guillebeau’s blog http://www.chrisguillebeau.com/ inspiring. Neither are about food, but about people who follow their dreams and don’t let convention or the ‘rules’ of work get in the way.

    Great stuff for a Sunday morning – thanks for sharing and good luck to all the people you mention,


  2. it’s amazing how your introduction resonated with me!

    i never fancied the corporate life, and well…stuck to it cos’ it provides a stable income (although, it sucked my soul!).

    i finally decided to venture out on my own – renting a community kitchen to bake brownies, and boy – i never thought i had such zest and passion in life!! now, i am constantly curious, searching and experimenting and even though it barely covers my living expenses – i’m soooo much happier! i’m so glad i so lucky to have re-discover my dreams.:)

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