Street Treats is a mobile confectional set to launch in May. Diane Skwiercz is still putting all the details together, figuring out recipes, getting the truck decked out, and plotting which neighborhoods to invade. I spoke with her about launching her new business in a climate saturated with all things sweet.
Photo courtesy of Diane Skwiercz, pictured.
Skwiercz:I was originally going to do some cupcake franchise from some girls out of Vancouver, but then I went to China and I came back and the economy was a little bit crazy, so I wanted to do something else. The food scene has been taking off, in Seattle, Portland, just across the country. Ever since last May I have been doing all kinds of research, on where to get the truck, converting it to biodiesel, should I use solar, should I not use solar, on all the different applications inside the vehicle. The truck I bought from an Oakland post office on eBay. It is a post office truck. I am having it converted, hopefully as we speak, to biodiesel. I don't want to use propane or a generator; I am trying to be as green-friendly as possible. I am going to have a freezer and a fridge on board that are battery operated. They are going to be plugged in at night. I'm looking at where to park, doing recipes, and talking to food people now.
What's your culinary background?
I actually don't have a culinary background. I have a business and marketing background. I have a business concept and that's how and why I wanted to get it started. Though I have always cooked and baked. I am going to hire a baker to get me through all the nuances of things I don't know about. But basically for the last year I have been baking at least twice a week, and bringing stuff to work, dropping stuff off at my neighbor's door, bringing it to my family. I don't have a huge culinary background, but I don't think I need it to run a business, if I hire the right person.
Do you know who your baker is going to be?
I don't know. I have a couple of people in mind. I want to put an ad on Craigslist, and I want to talk to Seattle Central Community College because they have a large culinary program. But I want to wait until I have a better idea of when the truck is going to be ready to go. Originally it was going to be mid-April, but now, it's just the nature of the beast, waiting for applications and whatnot, it's probably going to be the first part of May.
What's your day job?
I work at Trader Joe's. It has opened my eyes to how people shop and what people like. I've been going to farmer's markets to see what's on offer, and of course Cupcake Royale and Molly Moon's and the frozen custard place, and I've been here [Bluebird] a couple times. There are a lot of desserts going on, and I have seen some different patterns, in terms of what people are buying and eating.
Are you beginning to build a menu of what you are hoping to offer people?
We have a one online, but that may change. I am going to work with the baker. I am not good with the fruity-type desserts, so knowing that, I am going to wholesale that out, I am going to have High 5 Pies. And people like ice cream, so I am going to wholesale out Half Pint ice cream. She does four farmers markets. I wanted to keep small and local. And me and the baker are going to bake really simple desserts. Of course I am going to have chocolate chip cookies, because that's a basic. But I have a couple different things that are not seen at coffee shops. We're gonna do a couple different brownies, and a macadamia cheesecake bar, and I have a hazelnut lime or lemon bar that's really good. We want to do an oatmeal cookie with white chocolate and cherries, and then a peanut butter cookie with a peanut butter cup in the center. And then I have a butterscotch chocolate marshmallow dreamy thing. You can serve it in a bar but it looks really cute in little mini cupcake form. And a gingerbread cookie, because that is extremely popular. That's our number one selling cookie at Trader Joe's. I am probably going to do about twelve items, and I want to incorporate one special item every week, just to see what people are liking. I was thinking that I could possibly post something online for interactivity with customers. If people have a basic, simple cookie recipe that they want to submit, we could try it out and we could post it.
Check back tomorrow for part two of our interview with Skwiercz and hear where she is finding her recipes, what ingredients she's especially into right now, and how she likes her pizza.