Piece by Piece

We started with a Bain-marie, a professional sized one that we used for serving hot food at our events. In less than two years, we have a full catering set up. But we are not done yet. Not nearly.

Senait unveiling the Doro Wat.

Senait unveiling the Doro Wat at our first event in 2015.

We have wine glasses, drink glasses, forks & knives. We have an oven, gas burners, stainless steel counter tops, serving platters, six bain-maries, and a lot of pots and pans. Some of the stuff is ours, some is borrowed.

Our card, designed by Luisa Lapacciana.

Our card, designed by Luisa Lapacciana.

When Jeffrey met the designer of our logo, he explained our intention to build the FoodLab piece by piece, based on some lessons from previous generations…

Jeffrey’s grandfather was a mechanic and his name was Orlando, people called him “Andy” for short. He grew up in the US during the Great Depression and was one of three children born to a couple of illiterate Italian immigrants who came to the US for a new life but could barely read or write. They worked in tedious conditions as loom operators in a textile mill just after the turn of the century. Andy was born in 1914, and he worked in many garages before he got his own. He learned to be an mechanic from other mechanics; he did not have the opportunity to go to any sort of vocational school – he only went to school until he was 9 or 10 years old, then it was time for work.

Now these ratchets are vintage.

Now these ratchets are vintage.

Back then, there were still travelling salesmen. The most famous company selling professional mechanic’s tools was Snap-on, and Andy would only use Snap-on tools in his garage. Snap-on’s slogan was “5 do the work of 50”, due to the interchangeable pieces.

The travelling salesman would come by Andy’s garage once a week. First he sold him a ratchet, then a set of wrenches, then some screwdrivers, and so on. As Andy earned more money, he would buy bigger and better tools.

By the end of his life, Andy had amassed an entire arsenal of mechanic’s gear and he claimed he could fix anything with them, even an airplane (he had worked as an airplane mechanic during WW2). Later came the cars with computerized sensors and fuel injection and his tools were powerless against them. However by that time he was already retired, complaining about how people (like him) used to repair things, whereas now you just replace things.

This is what we need!

This is what we need!

We have never taken any funding. We have received some small donations from organisations like OuiShare (thanks to a participatory budgeting experiment) and several kindhearted individuals, but these donations don’t add up to very much. Most of the money we have spent on our equipment, we have earned ourselves, through our own determination and toil.

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When we do jobs, we save a small portion that we then use to buy professional equipment so we can do bigger jobs. Unfortunately pro equipment is very expensive, but this is how we started and it has got us this far. We’ve built ourselves up to take on bigger jobs so we can work with more people. We don’t want 5 to do the work of 50, we want 50 to do the work of 50, but with the proper tools!

The last series of jobs we did in May required an investment of around €4500 in new equipment, which was all we had left in our kitty. To do these jobs, we usually rent a van since we don’t have our own (yet). In the last month we spent  over €700 in van rentals! This is cutting into our profits and, more importantly, cutting into the chefs’ salaries. What we would like to do, and  our chief necessities for the next month, is to get our own van. For this reason we have put up a modest crowdfunding page in order to raise the funds for a second hand catering van which would greatly increase our capacity and range of services. Please help us by contributing to our fundraiser and helping us to purchase the next crucial piece to help us grow.