We recently connected with Jessamine Starr and have shared our conversation below.
Jessamine , thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today We’d love to hear about a project that you’ve worked on that’s meant a lot to you.
I have two very meaningful projects that are related to my career path but are not really ‘part’ of it. The first one is ett. Ett is the one seat restaurant in the woods I opened for one year during the heart of the pandemic. In the beginning the pandemic greatly effected my business as it did many catering companies. I was able to pivot my focus and create enough work to pay the bills but I still had more time on my hands than usual. I spent a lot of this time outdoors, as I along with the rest of the world was anxious and worried, I have always found solace and peace outside. I read a short article about a restaurant that was planning to open in Sweden that was in a meadow outside a chef’s house and near a bus stop that was opening as a safe dining experience and I just loved the idea of providing something like that here. At the time I lived in the woods alongside a creek and I immediately picked up a little table we had and started walking around the property looking for the perfect dinning spot. Once I found it (deep in the woods, overlooking the creek), my family and i made a quarter mile trail through the woods to reach it and ett (which means one in Swedish) was open. I picked the dinners by lottery and it was pay or trade what you want. This was this experience could be open to anyone- there was no monetary constraint. I only served on Sundays and Mondays- as I did have my regular cooking job to keep up with. Dinners would park at the beginning of the trail and text me when they arrived. I would then run a little snack (like honeysuckle soda and local strawberries) to the half way point on the trail and then plate and set their 3 course meal at the table, which also was always composed of hyper local and foraged ingredients. So they would have their experience completely alone. It was 100 precent zero contact. I really just wanted to encourage and provide quiet solo time in the woods during this stressful time in all of our lives. It was also a gift to myself as a way to feel connected to community in a safe way. It was definitely not a money making venture and that was by no means the point, but none the less it was undoubtedly one of the best things I have ever done. The other project, that I am currently working on, is my podcast ‘Fruit Love Letters’ with Whetstone Radio. A few years ago I started penning love letters to fruit because I just love fruit so much. I was already writing letters to the fruit I was eating in my head. This was also a project that had nothing to do with my career and I had no aspirations for it to become anything. It was simply a project that entertained me and brought me joy. Two years ago Stephen Statterfield saw these letters in a small valentine’s show at the coffeeshop Two Clocks and proposed I host a podcast with his new project Whetstone Radio. Fast forward two years later and we are now in the middle of my first season of Fruit Love Letters. It has been such a wonderful experience as I have learned so much- not just about the podcast world but the very best is that I have been able to interview some of my fruit world idols. Scientists, biologists, chefs and historians that know so much about the fruit I adore.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
The core of my business is The Good Food Truck. It was started in 2010 after my husband and I bought an old ice cream truck on a whim. Our timing ended up being perfect because it was right as food trucks were beginning in Atlanta. The first five years or so it was a traditional food truck, in the fact that we parked and sold food to the public. The food has never been quite traditional though. After year five I slowly transitioned into just a catering business. Sometimes catering from the truck and sometimes without it. As far as the food goes, I serve a large range of items but all of them have a bit of a fun twist on the items you might be familiar with. The Poodle has been the truck’s long time hit. It is a hot dog in a french toast bun topped with apple maple slaw, spicy mustard and syrup. Sounds strange but it is just a magical mixture of all the right flavors and has always been extremely popular. I also make savory waffle cones (looks like a waffle cone for ice cream but think cornbread or parmesan flavors) that are then filled with things like collards, black eyed peas and pimento cheese grits or lentils, roasted butternut squash and rice. They are the perfect party food as you can eat them walking around without a plate. The chutney grilled cheese is also a big favorite. I make chutney from seasonal fruit like apple sage chutney paired with sharp cheddar cheese. Again just a little surprising twist on something we are all familiar with. We have many more items and have come to specialize in events that have specific dietary needs. I cater a lot of vegan weddings, vegetarian birthday parties or movie sets that need multiple gluten free options. One of my business philosophies is that diversity is very important. So I am always trying to offer new items and come up with different ways to present or expand the business and my reach in general. I also came up with ‘watermelon snow’. It is just like a snow cone but instead of ice I freeze watermelon and shave it on an old fashion snow cone maker. The result is fluffy, frozen and delicious watermelon snow that can be eaten as is or topped with different things like lemonade syrup and lavender salt. When the pandemic happened my schedule dramatically changed. I had a year prebooked with event that instantaneously canceled. I had to think fast to come up with a new revenue stream, so I started curry deliveries every Friday. It is simply a different curry (or not) that is always vegan and gluten free and serves about 4 delivered to customers doorsteps. This saved my business during the pandemic and I still offer it now as it proved so successful. I also think it is very important to have projects that feed the soul. They are not intended for profit. I am just doing them because they interest, entertain or connect me others (and hopefully all three). I have written a small cookbook called Spring Folds, had my little restaurant ett, and now the podcast ‘Fruit Love Letters’ for this reason. They are not intended to advance my career, put money in my wallet, or impress anyone. They just make me, feel like me. I think this is an aspect in business and just in life in general that gets overlooked way too much. Yes of course we all want successful businesses, but I also want to be a satisfied and happy person.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
I think the pandemic was a perfect storm for all of humanity to show resilience. For me personally it meant thinking creatively and quickly. There was no time to wallow in business lost. I just needed to figure out how to tap into the following I already had with a product they needed in the new normal. For me that was weekly curry delivery and it really did allow my business to survive 2020.
Any resources you can share with us that might be helpful to other creatives?
I have made so many mistakes over the years. Some tiny, some huge. I don’t think any particular resource could have changed this except for me to accept the fact that mistakes will be (both in the past and future) will be made and the very best thing is not to get mad at yourself for making them but to really analyze why they happened and what could be done differently next time.
- Website: goodfoodtruckatl.com
- Instagram: goodfoodtruckatl fruitloveletters. jessaminestarr
- Facebook: goodfoodtruckatl
- Yelp: Good Food Truck
- Other: Fruit Love letters podcast with whetstone media wherever you listen to podcasts
whetstone media for Fruit Love Letters