While David Stein was creating his business at Triangle, Inc., Francis Gouillart, academic, business consultant, and co-author of “The Power of Co-Creation” and his group of angel investors were exploring Malden as a possible city to put the theory of co-creation to work on a local level.
“Co-creation is a management initiative, or form of economic strategy, that brings different parties together (for instance a company and a group of customers) in order to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome.”
As a blue-collar city and the second most ethnically diverse in Massachusetts, Malden fit the criteria as a community they wanted to work with.
Their goal was to try a social experiment by empowering people, especially women and minorities, through food service, by reaching out to Malden food businesses and supporting them by encouraging, coaching, and investing in start-up businesses as equity partners, hiring from the community and supporting community growth in food service.
Gouillart and his group had heard of Stein and were interested in working with him. When they finally met, they found that they shared a vision for social change through the food industry. Together they looked at properties and in September of 2014 leased the site at 324 Pearl St., on the corner of Medford Street, known as the Polka Dot Building, combined it with Stein’s kitchen commissary at Triangle, Inc. at 420 Pearl St. and
Stein, executive chef and part owner explains: “The name, ‘Stock Pot Malden’ is a metaphor for community and diversity. It’s taking a lot of interesting ethnicities and mixing them up.” Stein’s original food truck, Brother Trucker, morphed into what is now called The Heritage Truck Catering Company, the catering division of Stock Pot Malden.
“To me, as an American chef you’re essentially an international chef,” he says. “We’re in a country of immigrants. All the regional cuisines in this country are what they are because French Canadians came down and settled in New Orleans and mixed with the Indians and African Americans. All the regional cuisines are like that. They’re based on the group of immigrants and their traditions” Stein adds that The Heritage Truck Catering Company name is from “the rich heritage of American cooking which is essentially international cooking as well as the heritage of a great product.”
Sizzling red peppers leap into the air with the flick of wrist on a pan handle. Evan, co-owner of Saigon Alley heaves a steam spewing cauldron from the fire and heads hurriedly to the sink while Ruby, co-owner and Steve work in the large open kitchen at shining stainless steel tables preparing “fresh, healthy, very affordable, authentic southeast Asian street food.”
Cutting, chopping, dicing and mincing.
Close by, a crew from Bite Kite kitchen creates, “…healthy meals tailored to vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets” with a promise of quality food of diverse cultures delivered in five to twenty-five minutes. “Speed is our specialty” is their credo. Around the corner at the Tiny Foodies table, rows of small boxes individually labeled with children’s names are being filled with, “…fresh organic meals inspired by global flavors” and await delivery to schools, daycares and homes. These are a few of the many start-ups that form this culinary incubator.
Stock Pot Malden is a collection of approximately 46 businesses, including seventeen start-up food truck businesses, caterers, chefs and other food related entrepreneurs, such as chocolatiers, bakers, meal delivery services and more, who are at various stages in their professional development and form the base of the Stock Pot Malden business. For a monthly fee “incubees” are given shared kitchen and storage space, cooler and freezer space, and as described on their pamphlet, an “in house staff of industry veterans” that offer coaching and support with finance and development such as costing out or redoing menus. As it is required by state law that all food trucks be associated with a kitchen, licensing and permitting services are offered in the often complicated processing.
These start-ups are too small to buy cases of produce so they shop at Super 88 Market and Stop and Shop and support other Malden businesses by purchasing bread at Piantedosi Baking Company, fish from Fisherman’s Fleet in Maplewood Square, and the propane from Arco Welding Supply Co.
Stock Pot Malden is unique among commissaries in its philosophy, its involvement in the community, and its work to change the farm to table business model, with a focus on Malden, Massachusetts, and greater New England.
Currently, Massachusetts farmers grow a large variety of crops to distribute through CSA’s , Community Shared Agriculture, a model where farm shares are paid upfront enabling the farmer to plan ahead for the growing season and later delivering that share of produce to a nearby location for pick-up. This system demands that they grow a large variety of crops making it too expensive for both the farmer and the start-up.
Stock Pot Malden is working on creating a new farm to table model by gathering a group of start-up food businesses and farmers to work together. This new model would support farmers concentrating on fewer crops which would be less expensive for them, and wholesaling to businesses, making farm-fresh, organic produce available to food trucks and start-ups at affordable costs. The added benefit is that the freshest and highest quality farm products would reach the public at an affordable rate and increase the general health of consumers.
Another way of affecting change and impacting people’s health through food is the work they’re doing with one of the largest health care providers on developing meal kits to be distributed by trucks for people with such health problems as diabetes or obesity. These kits would include healthy eating ingredients and a recipe to assist in changing people’s dietary habits and improving their health through food.
Stein has for years reached out to the Malden community by actively supporting Malden Reads and Bread of Life soup kitchen. He hires locals, the disabled and high school students. Recently he catered Malden’s first “pop-up” restaurant and he, and his wife, Susan, performed the music with a band. Stein wants the Malden community to know, “We are available to the community for all things culinary.”
He reflects, “I will always love to be involved in food and music. The bottom line is always giving something to people. If you can do that in a positive way, it’s sort of the core of who I am. That’s what it’s about. There’s obviously doing it in more complicated ways, but it’s still a way of doing something good…especially in the community. It’s a way of saying thank you. If I can give somebody a song, or a nice meal, and they want to do the same to somebody else, then I’ve done my job.”
Special thanks to Ben de la Cretaz
Photography Elizabeth Scorsello
*Prahalad, C.K.: Ramaswamy, V. (2004) “Co-Creation Experiences: The Next Practice in Value Creation.” Journal of Interactive Marketing. Volume 18, Number 3.