Above is where …. as for the how …. wow, that is a much longer story.
Many many years ago I found myself in a meeting at a restaurant that I own … actually part-own. A beautiful 1-of-a-kind bistro called Le Jardin Secret. Jojo, my partner in Gusto, arranged a meeting with a very mysterious gentleman who wanted to know MORE about Gusto…. asking alot of questions on the phone. The alarm bells were ringing and normally we would just brush this guy away, but he enticed us with various phrases that led us to believe that it could be an interesting meeting. But still, after so many years in China, there was NO WAY IN HELL I would let this guy anywhere near my facility so we decided to meet at Le Jardin Secret.
That meeting changed our lives.
You see, until that point, finding reputable farmers was ALWAYS the most difficult part of our business.
We sat down with him and the more we listened, we realized that THIS man in his tattered dungarees and soil under his fingernails would allow us to grow this business in a way WE WANTED. This man controlled an enormous institute outside Shanghai. An Agricultural institute. In fact, a Governmental Agri-Institute. Sure, alot of it was for “show” – bringing governmental officials to visit and to “show off”. But, the majority of produce grown went straight to governmental leaders. And what an institute it was ….. Imported German Machinery, American Filtration Systems & the Earth Oooh-La-La… The Earth they imported from distant Yunnan Mountain Tops. I guess what they say is true – “Rank Has Its Privileges”. No expense was spared in creating a super modern facility geared to growing top quality produce.
And what they were growing was basically simple Chinese vegetables. Talk about boring. He knew it, we knew it and that was the reason he sat down with us and enjoyed his first ever Cafe Latte. Well we started slow and with each season My Chen would ask for more and more advice, more seeds, more education and more information on what to do with the final product – how to prepare, how to cook. And with each season he allocated more land to us.
And then his friends started calling. “Oh, I run a Govermental farm in Shaanxi, in Shandong, in Hainan etc etc.. can you come and visit us?” The rest is history.
Today Gusto works with Governmental Farms around the country.