HomeFEATURESThe Realness’s Damaris Coulter on the real side of Kiwi hospitality

The Realness’s Damaris Coulter on the real side of Kiwi hospitality

Ben Fahy: So when did all this start? When was the first thought?

Damaris Coulter: Maybe seven years ago. At the time, there was a big influx of big corporate restaurants and all the little guys were quiet. And we started doing this thing called Morale Mondays, where we would meet at Coco’s Cantina and just talk stresses out and swap advice about candle suppliers or holiday pay. It was kind of like this advisory board. That’s when I really became grumpy and thought ‘this is unacceptable. Where are our leaders, where is our community? We’re all here doing it the hard way, where is everyone?’ They were on Federal Street, they were at Depot and they were where it was shiny and where the ads were.

So we wrote this list of restaurants and then we actually photocopied hundreds of them, and we put them all around, and they stayed in the bathrooms, and that’s how it started. That’s when The Selby from New York came out and photographed us actually. About a month after that, these two girls who were buyers for a clothing company were in Hong Kong visited. They said ‘We follow The Selby blog and we’ve come especially to Auckland to go to Supreme and Coco’s.’ The Selby just lists all of the people who were doing what they’re doing and I was like, ‘yeah that’s what I fucking write down every fucking day’. And then the penny dropped. The corporates aren’t going to slow down, it’s always going to be hard for us unless we create critical mass.

Clearly the consumer wants the interesting, authentic operators. So what makes us like-minded? We operate in a particular way, we’re quite values based rather than business based. We know we have to stay in business, but it’s not at the cost of the values. We started putting this all together and then we realised, there’s something in this, how would you do it? That’s when we started working out the values, intellectual property, the legal, the nuances with everything.

We did the startup accelerator programme [Kokiri]. And we had spoken to a million people. I’d spoken to NZTE, to Air New Zealand, I had spoken to anyone who would listen and said ‘you can have this fucking idea if you just help get it out of my head. I just understand this algorithm, it needs to be realised’. It could actually be the tipping point that helps our society and actually alleviate some of the stresses on our economy and on our environment.

So how does it work?

All The Realness does is say, ‘okay little guy, there’s heaps of us but it’s better if we’re together, and currently everyone else controls how you find us, whether it’s a review site or a magazine.’ Also, they get to tell us how good we are or not.

It’s an affordable place for the eatery to say who they are, where they are, and what they do. And for the diner it’s free to search.

You have to be unpopular to disrupt the current model. I’ve been unpopular, I’m fine with that.

The main thing for me is that this is going to be a profile page. So you’ll be able to load as many photos as you want, what the name of your restaurant is. If you’re vouched for you get to choose some describing words, that will click through to your Google Maps. Whether or not you take bookings, how long you’ve been in business, your website, who it’s owned and operated by, if you are indigenous owned, which we are.

You don’t want it to replace Instagram but long-term you’ll be able to put up links to recipes. People will be able to be as active or not active as they want. They could just have a picture and their details.

How do they get on the platform? And how do you manage companies like Hip Group that have a range of different restaurants?

You have to be unpopular to disrupt the current model. I’ve been unpopular, I’m fine with that.

They don’t need any help?

No, and also I think their drive is something quite different. Their drive isn’t to be a single site, independent owner operated restaurant. Their drive is to kind of showcase New Zealand produce and be great employers. They’ve got a really beautiful drive but it’s different to this one.

There are a couple of restaurateurs in Auckland who have said, ‘Well, we want to be on it,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, you’ve got three restaurants, just do your jam, don’t worry about what the people with one restaurant are doing.’ If I’m honest Coco’s isn’t going to be able to be on it, because I’ll be running it. My own restaurant won’t be allowed on it.

Why not? 

Well, because you have to be an owner-operator.

But there’ll still be someone owning and operating it.

Yeah, [co-owner and sister] Renee will be there, but if the other owner-operator is running The Realness, you can’t really be on there.

That’s harsh.

You have to keep the integrity of the brand.

Making it hard to get in is obviously a key part of this business model. So how do you protect the integrity of this when it gets bigger and ensure the validation is working. That’s the hard thing. With any system there will be people trying to work their way around it.

We won’t name any names, but we’ve already had to remove two people who joined. I said ‘I was under the impression that you had another restaurant in another part of the world’, and they said, ‘Oh no, actually I just consult to that one.’ I say, ‘okay so you’re telling me porkies, but that’s fine, that’s kind of more just an ego thing’.

Then I said ‘the majority of your shareholders have to work in the business’ and he said ‘I’m actually only 10%’. we use very, very particular language around the of declaration of who you say you are.

We’re hoping that the marketing and the branding will do its job, so if this wasn’t your full-time job and you hadn’t saved your own money to get into it or taken the loan yourself, or done all the things that the rest of us have done, then you probably are a bit of a dick for joining.

You have got people who are confronted by it. They say, ‘you’re telling me I’m not an owner-operator?’ And I have to say ‘no, I’m telling you you’re not an owner-operator that has one restaurant, that’s what I’m telling you’.

Well, if you create critical mass, which is what we’re hoping to create very quickly. Suddenly all of those people that are really, really separated all over the world, who have never had a platform, suddenly the visibility grows.

Are you willing to change some of those rules if you see there is demand in a different way; for restaurants that don’t fit your criteria, but still have a positive impact in some way?

No, there are plenty of sites for people doing other stuff. If we just take ethically sourced animal proteins as an example. We’ve looked at the psychology of why a business would make those decisions and practise those kinds of disciplines. There’s a reason why people do things. We could bend the rules forever and if you do that then you’re just never going to have that pure product. And why would we? The rules are already being bent. We don’t need to keep bending rules to make every one fit in, it’s actually not for everyone.

That’s fine as long as you’re open about it. It’s like an exclusive members club. Everyone wants to be in there.

I’ve had really exciting things happen too. A woman in Wellington said ‘the only thing that’s not ethically sourced is my chicken and I’m going to change that and when you re-launch I’m going to join.’ It incentivises people to do that … I had this conversation with a guy who was over here for a tattoo conference and he said, ‘That’s really going to restore towns and areas that are dead zones. I’ve got a friend in the middle of Waikikamukau in America, and he’s got this great restaurant but everyone just naturally gravitates to the cities. But if I saw on The Realness that a place over there had been vouched for by someone, I know where I would be going.’

Suddenly, you’re moving your money over there, you’re buying a little trinket from the art shop, you’re getting your Airbnb, you’re renting a car. The economy starts to shift, it starts to redistribute.


It sounds like it’s promoting interestingness and smallness in a way. It reminds me of the guy who used Google Maps every day on his commute and it would always take him down the busiest roads. It was five minutes quicker than the other way. But he was surrounded by cars, it was quite dangerous and so he said, ‘I’m going to try a different way this time.’ Then he’d go the longer way and it was far more interesting, so he made an app where you purposefully could go the longer way.

The longer way?

Yeah, basically.

That’s amazing.

It’s the ongoing conflict between efficiency and humanity, in a way. 

I love that, that’s exactly what it is, it’s the longer way. It’s not necessarily the better way. People say, ‘Oh I get it, so you’re going to have the best … and I’m like, ‘no, this is the thing, you may hate that place, but that person is these kinds of things.’

There must be some kind of quality aspect to it though?

I think that when you are an owner operator, when the eatery is your job, you’re probably going to care about it. When you have made the effort to use ethically sourced animal proteins, which are 10 times more expensive than the Mad Butcher, you’re probably not going to fuck that up.

When you’ve been in business for 18 months or more, you probably have already done your time because most eateries go out of business in a year. When you’ve only got one place, your concentration and understanding of it is probably going to be quite good.

It’s already filtered.

And then if someone is willing to put Ben’s Diner on their profile, to say ‘I vouch for him, I’ve got him,’ then they’ve already kind of done the work. Now, of course, someone’s always going to sneak on. But that’s when hopefully through the marketing and the branding, through the storytelling and through public awareness, that some dodgy guy going through all of that, getting someone to vouch for him, and separate with $300. I don’t think he’s going to do that, and if he does, you and I are probably going to go send a little worry about this place that we stumbled across.

I’ve got Europeans that will come in to Coco’s and they say ‘If this was in Paris, you would be printing money.’ I’m like, ‘I know.’ They’ve got a population that understands craft and food and produce. They understand the slow food movement. They have no problem waiting for an hour for dinner because it’s how long it takes to cook.  

You want to build a community that’s not a tell tale, it’s more like, ‘Hey, we don’t want him to infect these guys, because they’re doing such a great job.’ It’s more about promoting a positive kind of movement, it’s returning to craft.

A major trend people talk about at the moment is that people are valuing experiences over things. And people want unique experiences. Is this a good way to find them?

I lived in the far north with my aunty and uncle, and I grew up under a restaurant table. I know restaurants better than I know anything. If you want to have that experience of what I’m offering, you look at Cazador, Yael [from Ima] ­– no one knows middle eastern food like she knows middle eastern food. Now why would someone be like, ‘That’s just not what I want.’ Of course it’s not what you fucking wanted you dickweed, it’s what she wanted. Go and experience it. If you like it go back, if you don’t, it’s no biggie.

I don’t know if it’s a meanness or if it’s just we are such a new country, but we have such a high expectation for our hard earned money, it’s a very immature value of expertise. It’s kind of like we want the real experience and the knowledge and the expertise, but we don’t understand the price tag.

I’ve got Europeans that will come in to Coco’s and they say ‘If this was in Paris, you would be printing money.’ I’m like, ‘I know.’ They’ve got a population that understands craft and food and produce. They understand the slow food movement. They have no problem waiting for an hour for dinner because it’s how long it takes to cook.  

There’s a lot of conflict in food at the moment. Fast food is going off. But slow, interesting food is also going off. Are you playing with that conflict?

Yeah, it’s playing on a conflict. There’s a lot of public awareness needed and there’s a lot of questions about why it costs $32 to have an organic piece of 180 gram pork on your plate. The reality is, that farmer only has 12 pigs. He’s really not making any money off that, it’s just paying for his life.

It seems like you’re saying that you’re not as successful as you think you should be, but it seems from the outside looking in that Coco’s is going well. It’s an institution, it’s an experience, it’s very popular. You could expand if you wanted to.

Yeah, we’re lucky though, we’re lucky that we have what a lot of people don’t have, which is …


A little bit of character. But I think lots of people have character … Renee and I have opposite skills and also our restaurant became a philosophy because that’s what we started at the beginning. So any staff that came on, they didn’t have to be necessarily hospitality driven, they just had to be kind of liberal, like ‘do you want a better world?’ Then they understood naturally why we have good relationships with our suppliers. It would be very easy for me to just have ten big suppliers, ten invoices, the office lady would be happy, everyone would be happy, but we’ve got like a hundred of them.

Nothing rewarding is easy though, is it?

They are so annoying, 110 of them, they block the fucking driveway and they bring crates, it’s so annoying, it’s so slow food. But would you have any other way?

That’s a long term play.

Well, if you create critical mass, which is what we’re hoping to create very quickly. Suddenly all of those people that are really, really separated all over the world, who have never had a platform, suddenly the visibility grows. I have had inquiries from New York, from LA and because we’re going to this conference soon, three people have messaged me and want to meet. I mean it’s all of the Chef’s Table crew that are organising this conference, so this movement is going to escalate very quickly.

It’s quite timely with the environment, it’s timely with indigenous, it’s timely with why do we keep rewarding a corporate who’s never worked in a restaurant, but who owns 20 restaurants? The balance is all out of whack.

A few years ago, a guy applied for a chef’s job, and it was a very sad moment for me, but also it was very telling because I was working quite hard on The Realness.

I don’t know how to use a computer, I don’t even know how to attach a document, and for some reason I’m building a website … It’s ridiculous.

He was trialling and the chefs were just getting more and more annoyed. I remember them looking over at me and being like ‘get him the fuck out of here, you’re killing me and you’re killing him, it’s just embarrassing.’ I was like, ‘buddy, how long you’ve been cooking?’ He says, ‘Oh, six years.’ And I said ‘six years? Why don’t you just walk over on the station and just cook me a medium steak’. He was like, ‘ I haven’t ever done grill,’ and I said, ‘What are you talking about you haven’t done grill, you’ve been a chef for six years.’

He was like, ‘Supplies come in bottom floor, someone downstairs will sign for them, they get put on the lift and then they go up.’

I said, ‘Okay so you haven’t even engaged with the delivery person or the supplier, so you have no idea?’ It goes up, it gets like signed up, put into chillers. He was like, ‘you get almost like a work sheet.’

And that’s even in well-established, quite high end restaurants?

That’s the corporate side, that’ll be for their functions. But a lot of it is assembling. The fact is there’s no right or wrong, but what it’s about public awareness. That to me was a monumental time where I was like, ‘that corporate model is killing my craft.’ There’s already a shortage of chefs because it’s such a high stress job, and there’s also very little reward, especially in a country like New Zealand where the pay doesn’t reflect the craft  … Because the customer doesn’t want to pay.

If you’re in Australia, you start on 35 bucks an hour. If you’re in New Zealand, you start on 18. It’s very, very different. This kid thought he was a chef, but he was so disengaged with the whole process. So when we were building the values and the nuances and understanding, it was very clear for us, because it was stuff that we did every day. We talked to the suppliers, we knew where the wines and the beers came from, we made deliberate choices. It wasn’t just about a spreadsheet and putting things in.

I think for the customer, everyone loves finding those little nooks and crannies when they go to Rome and they go, ‘Oh go here, it’s so authentic.’ But for some reason, we’ve let other people tell you how to find us. All The Realness does is say, ‘all the crafts and masters of this industry, if you want to advertise yourself, you’re all really, really different but you share these like-minded kind of values or practises, some of you are fine-dining, some of you are Chinese, some of you are Māori, some of you are rustic, some of you are local, some of you are whatever, but we all share the same thing, and now there’s be a place where you can showcase yourself, and we’re cutting out the other kind of middleman.

I don’t know if it’s a return to basics, but there’s always a reaction against the prevailing current. I don’t think you’re going to stop that move towards more tech and more efficiency, but there’s always an opposite reaction. I guess you see people switching off social media, meincluded, because it’s not healthy. Comparing yourself to other people is a bad thing in general, and this is just heightening it. But there are people like you who are trying to use technology in different ways; to fight against it with a different technology.

I don’t know how to use a computer, I don’t even know how to attach a document, and for some reason I’m building a website … It’s ridiculous.

Other people know how to do that, I’m sure. While you’re thinking about the future, what do you think we will be eating in 20 years?

More vegetarian and we’re going to be eating around our direct areas. So whatever’s been grown kind of within 50kms of us, maybe more depending on distribution and freight, and car pooling and distribution. There’ll be a lot more kind of double deliveries, kind of like what we’re doing as well.

We’re already talking to suppliers about joining the realness because you would hope that people who are going the extra mile with the ethically sourced animal proteins. It would make sense to find like-minded suppliers and then instead of using a distribution company who does a million drops, you would have one company that looked after all of them and it kind of brought the price down and improved the quality of products. It’s almost like what we’re going for with food is almost going to be the curated thing that we’ve seen with social media.

But with a restaurant, you want serendipity and you want the unknown. You want someone to curate it for you.

You don’t actually. You want me to make sure that you’re guaranteed a good time, you don’t want serendipity, you want a guarantee.

I want some serendipity.

Well, you might. Most people think they want serendipity, most people think they want romance and spontaneity, but really they want their dinner out in 25 minutes, and they want it on their terms and they want exactly what they had in their mind, and they don’t want to be a queue. Europeans are quite different, Europeans love serendipity. They embrace it, they mass produce it, it comes out of their pores. They’re happy to wait in the queue, and drink a bottle of wine, and that’s just to wait for the cheese from the best cheese maker, but we don’t have that, we’re a new country. So I feel like for New Zealand, it’s quite different to the rest of the world. I think America is just going to get more and more convenient.

As we said before, it can go both ways, fast and slow.

Yeah, and think it will. I think you’re always going have the Tex Mex mass-produced kind of burger joints and the drive-throughs and the UberEats, but then I think you are going have these nooks and crannies, but it just depends … Have you been watching the last Anthony Bourdain?


It’s so on point and it’s quite grim. The corporates control things. Now you’re seeing in places like Cambodia and Vietnam, all of these are places that for centuries have just sold food on the side of the road, the corporates don’t want them there because they want to control the monopoly so they’re making it illegal to sell street food.

What’s going to happen? I don’t know, do they get pushed out? Do they go underground? I mean, it’s always going to exist but it’s going to get harder and harder. I mean, you look at New Zealand, it’s hard because we’re rules-based, we want the spontaneity but we’re wrapped up in red tape. ‘Oh, why can’t we have those lovely lanes. I don’t know why New Zealand doesn’t do this and do that’. And it’s because to get a liquor licence, or a Food Safety licence costs thousands and thousands of dollars, and millions of application forms, and fights that you just have no energy for. That’s unfortunately also why you see a lot of our operators going abroad, because it’s too hard to do it here.

Is that changing? When there’s enough pressure on – and you see it with Auckland and the Unitary Plan – things can be modified. And there are some benefits to those rules, of course. But has it gone too far?

Yeah, it has gone too far, but unfortunately I think that we’re just a twitchy country, we like it safe.


My favourite description of New Zealand is that we’re a strange combination of pride and self-doubt.

And that’s why we’ve had more positive response from The Realness from abroad. We’ve got our seed restaurants here, and they are amazing, the loyals have been here from the start, which is the kind of people who live and breathe this anyway, so they’re not operating any differently. But really, a lot of the interest has come from overseas when we’ve talked to other people and they’re like, ‘oh my God, that is genius, that is going to be amazing when you come to Bordeaux, that will just go viral when you’re in LA. If we can just separate all of the mainstream shit from the awesome authentic owner-operators without having to trail through endless shit reviews and publications that have been paid to write about it, this is genius.’

We almost need New York to say it’s okay before we say it’s okay. For some reason I’m like, ‘Well I’m saying it’s okay, I’m a New Zealander’. You have to say it’s okay.’

We want to do food, we want to do festivals, we want to do podcasts, we want to do film … The beautiful thing is the content’s endless. It’s such a strange thing when we did the idea, and even the current developers struggled with it a little bit. They didn’t quite get the idea at the start. They were like, ‘But how do I rate it? How do I rate them? Do you want us to set something up for feedback?’ And I was like, ‘Why would I want your fucking feedback? Are there not enough sites with feedback? You just go or not go.’ 

I think it’s changing a bit. I have a controversial view on tall poppy syndrome that sometimes it’s actually quite good for our culture. We can be successful, but you don’t get to be a dick about it and you can’t gloat too much. So it’s actually a kind of a leveller. I think now we’re more willing to give people praise if we think they’ve earned it.

I don’t know if I agree … I would love to think that we’re like that, I really would. But I still think that New Zealanders have this puffed up doubt. They’ve still got to get the okay from someone else. I’m so surprised at how much people abroad love Coco’s and yet people in their own town, if you don’t literally do everything that they want, they don’t back you, instead of just being like, ‘How lucky are we to have Coco’s in our town.’

I’m sure because you are in it all the time you probably take the problems to heart.

Well, you either love Coco’s or hate Coco’s and that’s probably because it’s almost like … bread. It’s a living thing, and it’s unpredictable. If someone’s having a bad day, it’s like the bread’s just gonna do what it’s going to do. You can do your best to keep it in there and bake it as well, but it’s very human. People think that, ‘Oh no, you’re a restaurant and a service, you should do this.’ Well, we’re kind of not that, we’re just an experience.

One day, the wait list was to the floor and then a man with a serious, serious disability came in and I said ‘move table nine to the table at the back, take off a chair and take these two straight through.’ The lady was almost in tears because it was already such a stressful ordeal to come out. And to psych herself up to be in a very public space, to want to have a date night, to want to come to Coco’s and give her money to Coco’s and experience that, I could see that she was thinking, ‘Fuck, we’ve just had to do the parking which is an ordeal, then we’ve had to go in here.’ And some fucking cock sucker decides to go, ‘I was first’ and I said, ‘You’re going to leave.’ I’m not even going to actually have you in the building. Because if you can’t see that this man’s life is so fucking awesome but also already so disadvantaged, and you’re worried about that, you don’t deserve this, you don’t deserve to come here.

And that’s why Coco’s is one of my, maybe my overall favourite restaurant in Auckland, because it’s an interesting place. I think people underestimate the psychology of the environment when it comes to restaurants. Chefs tend to think it’s all about the way they made their sauce; because they spent ten years learning how to perfect something at cooking school. But why do they usually put restaurants in beautiful places if it’s all about the food? Why are the meals you remember always with the people that you love? Food is obviously part of it definitely, but it’s bigger than that. And there aren’t many places that have that.

No, there are not many of those left in each place, and if we could make a way that you could find all of them, and it could be easy for them …

You could go on The Realness tour. There you go, there’s another business idea. I’ll take 10% of all revenue, thanks. What else are you planning?

We want to do food, we want to do festivals, we want to do podcasts, we want to do film … The beautiful thing is the content’s endless. It’s such a strange thing when we did the idea, and even the current developers struggled with it a little bit. They didn’t quite get the idea at the start. They were like, ‘But how do I rate it? How do I rate them? Do you want us to set something up for feedback?’

And I was like, ‘Why would I want your fucking feedback? Are there not enough sites with feedback? You just go or not go.’ And I suppose we wanted to set it up so it was just an umbrella to house people who were doing their own thing, without interruption of any sort of opinion or reviewer.

Also, what even is a reviewer? It’s like me coming to your house and going, ‘Ben, I was watching you put the washing out and I probably gave you a two out of 10, your missus backed out of the driveway, it was terrible.’

I rank new babies on Facebook sometimes. I generally give them six and a half out of ten, but with other friends I’ll give their babies a 6.6, and they’ll say, ‘What, you gave my baby a 6.5? What’s different about my baby?’

That’s amazing. But that’s how it should be. Don’t you think it should be hilarious? This kid the other day wrote this thing about Coco’s and it was so pretentious.

Did they give you a good rating or a bad rating?

He gave us a great rating, it was something like 9.36. I thought it was a joke. When did this happen? You had people that spent their lives dedicated to understanding rice, just rice. Now suddenly someone is allowed to pull apart a whole fucking craft that they know nothing about and then purge it on the internet and then have the audacity to make up their own ridiculous rating system. Last year I did a real push back on this, and it was quite controversial. I took out a trespass order [after a review of Cazador by the Herald’s Peter Calder] and put it on social media and it went like crazy and people were just like, ‘What the fuck, what is she doing?’ But I was like ‘no, it’s unacceptable now.’

We’re going to look back in history at why would we have thought that is was okay to go on the internet and purge these kind of opinions and pull something apart so clumsily and with such disregard. It’s not okay to do that. And so I’m going to actually call that man out, ‘You’ve done it for too long and I want other people to know that it’s unacceptable.’ These people are just trying to do the thing love, they’re trying to make a living. It’s all really hard.

When they’re knowledgeable within an area, there’s room for that. And, in some cases, that feedback can be taken on board and lead to improvements. But the difference with user generated reviews is that they don’t have enough knowledge and they skew the results so what we choose is increasingly based on algorithms. We can see that with Amazon at the moment and any kind of place with reviews. There’s a website called reviewmeta.com that looks for certain signs and decides whether they are fake or legit. So if all these reviews came in at the same time, or they all use the same language, or if they are all coming from the same country, they mark it down and show what the actual rating might be from legitimate sources.

Also, I’m always concerned if there is a paycheck attached to something. In my opinion that’s when it gets convoluted and there’s a conflict of interest.

You said you turned down a big deal. So how do you get your paycheck from The Realness?

The members pay for a yearly membership. I knew if I was going to maintain a site and keep the content engaging and have developers work on it, it had to pay for itself. But at every stage people were like, ‘Oh you need to do advertising’. But I said no. I wanted something that just represented what people needed currently. I’m lucky if I keep seven cents in the dollar [at Coco’s Cantina]. Those are my margins and that is the same for most eateries who are paying a living wage and using ethically sourced animal protein and who actually run a business that supports our current economy and society. Now if I was to just be like a big brewery that didn’t really care about our environment and paid minimum wage, then I could run an ad campaign because my margins are going to be much higher.

I look at those big food trends and they are so hard to fight against. Saying The Realness is a way to fight inequality and change the food system is a noble goal, but going to nice restaurants is typically a middle to upper-class thing. I remember when was in America, and I’m sure it’s probably the case for a lot of poor families, but it was cheaper to buy bad food than buy vegetables. So can the platform actually make a difference?

There are some interesting things happening. Andrew, a New Zealander who runs the food department at Stanford, helped me realise the supplier connection. He runs 21 dining halls, feeds something like 20,000 people a day. He was like ‘what’s happening? My suppliers are struggling’. So he went to one of his bigger suppliers and said ‘tell me how I can help’. Apparently this farmer said it as a joke, but he said ‘pay me first’. And he was like, ‘Will that help?’ He’s like, ‘Of course it will fucking help. So he did the numbers and they spent four million with him a year on lettuce, tomatoes and carrots. ‘I give you your four million, I take whatever you grow. Good season, bad season, whatever.’ They found that not only was the turnover of staff lower, there was more produce and it was higher quality. This is what I’m talking about, that’s why I actually have faith because there’s people like him in the industry.

 There are people like me in the restaurant industry, there are the people from Chef’s Table and I don’t think it’s as hard as we think it is to take the minority idea to the mainstream.

Tim Brown from Allbirds talked about that recently with the new jandals. He thinks all the problems that exist can be solved if you really want to solve them. So there’s a lot of lip service about it from the incumbents. There are products available that we can use that are better than what you’re using at the moment.

I will be buying those jandals.

But they’re three times more expensive, so you need to make that decision: is that worth the extra cost and for them it is worth it. And that’s how change seems to happen. Maybe it’ll become normal in five years.

Do you know what I think is going to happen? I think some healthy shame is going to happen.

This story originally appeared on Idealog.

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