Chef Beau Bonham runs The Truffle Trike, an elegant wood and metal trike that can be seen at restaurants and events throughout North County selling Beau’s custom gourmet truffles. I had the chance to ask Beau some questions about being a Chef and operating a food business in North County. He provided some great heartfelt answers.
Describe your style as a Chef in a few sentences.
I believe that knowing where your food comes from, and a healthy respect for the process of preparation can go a long way in our overall appreciation. New trends and flavor combinations are fun and exciting, but we seem to be constantly chasing the shock factor and trying to push the envelope of culinary experience, while possibly losing sight of the joy in simplicity. One thing I learned in culinary school was that before using any machines, taking any short-cuts, or expanding on existing ideas, we needed to be able to produce the desired product according to traditional methods in order to better understand it’s development. I have embraced that, and consider myself a bit of a traditionalist. There is a certain nuance that comes with doing things by hand. It is indeed that secret ingredient, that love that our grandparents spoke of, that makes our food so special. It allows for our true enjoyment, as well as bodily and soulful nourishment.
Tell me about The Truffle Trike.
I am now (at 36 years old) on a journey to make my mark as a Pastry Chef and chocolatier, and using the truffle trike as a springboard, conversation starter, networking tool, exercise machine, and fun business idea!
What led to your decision to open a business based in North County, particularly Oceanside.
This is where my family is. I am an O’side local, and as far as us locals are concerned, this place is hard to beat. It just happens to be lucky for me that North County and Oceanside are on the verge of a food revolution, and I want to be here when it happens, or better yet, be part of it.
What have been some of the challenges and rewards of operating in North County.
The willingness to jump on trends, and forget about them when the next best thing rolls along is tough. It seems that consumers have super short attention spans, and our lifestyles don’t allow for true appreciation of community and small business. Of course, the high prices and seemingly endless red tape associated with doing business in SD County are a bit of a frustration too.
What are your plans moving forward over the next couple of years.
I have dreams more than plans. Getting fixed on a plan can lead to a lot of heartache, but holding on to a dream is kind of beautiful. I would love to have a small patisserie, or chocolate and cheese shop, a cute neighborhood joint where people can afford to pop in daily and get some real good stuff, not just on special occasions. Until then, we roll with it.
Are there other Chefs or trends in North County that inspire you.
Too many to list. Chef Mark from TBG, Chef Christine from Petite Madeline, Chef Davin from Wrench and Rodent, Chef Lauren from the sushi bus, Chef Mario from the Flying pig, Chef Charlie from Kaisen, and many more! I am inspired by every independent small business owner, chef, and operator in the food industry here that is just doing their best to put out good food and make it available to everyone.
Biggest learning experience as a Chef / restaurateur in your career
Don’t give up.
Best and worst thing about running a Restaurant / Kitchen.
The best thing about running a kitchen, or cooking in general is being able to do what I love, and see other people take joy in it. Teaching others to recognize their abilities in the kitchen and gain a deeper appreciation for food and our craft comes in a close second. The worst thing for me is probably, having to gauge production levels, trends, sales, and flow based on the majority of the public having a 50 hr work week, little disposable income, and being too busy to enjoy themselves.
Favorite dish or ingredient to make / use? Least favorite?
My favorite thing to make is bread, all kinds. There is so much science, and alchemy, and variables that go into combining yeast, flour, water, and salt, that create so many outcomes. I never cease to be amazed. Oddly enough, my least favorite thing to make is pasta. Very similar ingredients, but I never could get the hang of it.
Biggest Misconception about being a chef. Biggest truth?
I can only speak for my ideas vs. my reality, but the biggest misconception is the glamour associated with being a chef. Kind of like actors, I guess, we only see the Hollywood side, but there is a ton of talent waiting in the wings in almost every little struggling community theater. The biggest truth is work, work, work. You gotta love it. You have to love what you do, do it the best you can each day, and keep doing it.
Do you feel like you’re able to challenge yourself creatively and have it be well-received by customers?
So far, yes. But we have hit a point where we are trying to “one-up” ourselves left and right in this industry. Respect for doing things the old-fashioned way, and dredging up forgotten classics is my current creative endeavor.
Looking back on the year, what were some of your biggest challenges and what were the biggest changes for the business model?
In this past year I have gone from running an industrial style savory kitchen putting out up to 200 meals 3 times a day, to running a small gourmet food cart. The biggest challenge was giving up a “good job” to do what I wanted to do. As far as my business model, it is always in flux. Flexibility is key.
Parting words, thoughts, insights….
If you can, just try to slow down and enjoy. PEACE