Making the Leap

While I was learning about the benefits of a plant-based diet, I was attending startup pitch competitions with Station Houston because I was unsatisfied with the culture and environment at ExxonMobil. At one competition, I told the organizer that I was interested in food, and he put me in contact with a food company Volgin Naturetech in the Houston food startup space. One Saturday morning, I visited them at the Urban Harvest East Side Farmers Market on Richmond. This was my very first famers market experience, and I was amazed at what I saw. Farmers brought their food directly from their farm to the market and sold it without a middle man/men. The food looked so different – colors, shapes, and sizes that I was not used to seeing in the stores. There were foods that I had never even seen or heard of, and I was baffled to find out they were grown right here in Houston.

The farmers at Houston Regional Growers have a 100% sustainable offering. You can really taste and see the difference!

At this point, I was committed to not only eating whole foods, but eating local foods as much as possible. Being in a supply chain job, I was aware of the energy and resources that it took to move things around the country, and I realized food in the grocery store was no different than that. Even in Whole Foods, where I thought the produce was the best I could find, I would see “grown in Australia…Mexico…California…Guatemala”, even though I could go to Urban Harvest and get the same food grown right down the road in Houston.

Back at Exxon Mobil, I began thinking: what if I put my background and hobbies towards another cause? What if I made a company of my own? Given what I learned about food as well as the vast amount of misinformation out there, I knew I wanted to do something in that space. For a while, I thought of ways I could use coding to build an app or website to help people come up with seasonal recipes, but at some point I realized I wanted to be the one cooking and serving the food to the city I had grown to love. I had some doubts as a self-taught chef, but I was comforted by my background in chemical engineering. I was taken back to my training in controlled lab experimentation (food R&D) and process design (repeatable recipes), and economic calculations (business acumen) – and this gave me the confidence that I could run a food pop-up on my own.

In October of 2019, I left Exxon Mobil to start Bloom Foods. My very first product was a veggie burger made with local Gundermann Acres red beans, and I was selling kits of my burger, serrano salsa, arugula pecan pesto, buns, lettuce, and tomato. I sold this kit and some other groceries at a few markets when I decided to buy a portable grill and start to cook my burgers for people at farmers markets and events.

One of the very first Bloom Burger Kits sold. The packaging has come such a long way!

After an introspective period in February 2020, I realized that what I really wanted to do was come up with the most delicious veggie burgers in the world, make them by hand and serve them with care with the local community. Now, my mission is to create and share my seasonal, local, whole veggie burger creations with Houston! 🌱

Comment: Where are my mission driven people out there? What is it that drives you?!

Published by Chester Chambers

MIT grad with a mission to make the best veggie burger in the world

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