From the paddock to the plate: 100 Mile Foodie’s success story

A consumer-driven desire for sustainable ethically sourced food has spawned a new generation of restaurateurs who believe you are what you eat.

Food has always played a big role in Marlene Hoff’s life. The founder of 100 Mile Foodie – a business that delivers catering, fine dining and events focusing on locally produced sustainable ethically farmed produce – tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB) she’s always felt connected to food.

“I would cut out recipes from magazines from a very young age and make cookbooks. I’m still obsessed with cookbooks,” she laughs. “And mine will be out next year.”

Given her obsession, it seems unlikely that Hoff would have anything other than a career in the food industry. However, it wasn’t until she was 35 with two small children in tow that she decided to throw aside her “good solid job” at a local bank and follow her dreams. Hoff enrolled in a Certificate III Hospitality course in commercial cookery and her real “food journey” began.

After earning her chops in the industry, Hoff says she was inspired to begin 100 Mile Foodie after several conversations around her family dinner table.

[image] Anyone for a baguette?

“My family would always sit around the table and talk about where our food came from. The children were very excited that it either came from our garden or the farm up the road, it was always fresh, organic where possible and of course local.”

From these conversations, the kernel of an idea formed and 100 Mile Foodie was born. For Hoff, delivering local sustainable ethically farmed produce was a no-brainer. It’s something she believes should be important to all Australians.

“Sustainability is very important so we can preserve what we enjoy now for generations to come and to preserve all species animal, fish and plants for the future.”

She tells KBB she only uses ethically sourced produce out of respect for all living things.

“As Australians, we have an abundance of food available to us that is covered under the RSPCA’s humane practices.  We do not need to import bacon, prawns or any products derived from livestock that has not been treated in a humane way, just for the sake of our overindulgence. Importing meat and fish should be banned,” she adds.

It’s a mantra she lives by. Hoff’s stand on delivering only the best products from sustainable ethical practices within 100 miles of her location, is winning her customers. Her business now operates out of two locations; the Mornington Peninsula and South Gippsland (both areas renowned for their fabulous produce). She offers catering, special events, cooking classes and corporate and private dinners.

[Image] Using locally sourced produce is at the heart of 100 Mile Foodie’s ethos

Whilst most customers approaching her service are already converts to sustainable and ethically sourced produce, she stresses she always meets with new clients to tailor the menu to their needs and to explain the ethos of her business.

“A menu would consist of locally sourced seasonal food created to enhance the event, style, occasion and location,” she says. “This week I quoted a wedding set on a property in South Gippsland where we will use local herbs, fruits, vegetables, fish and meat from the region and create a stunning menu that suits the surrounds, season, fun, and rustic setting. That’s the exciting part of what I do, every event is creative and different.”

She hopes anyone experiencing a 100 Mile Foodie event walks away not only having partaken of some “delicious, creative flavour-packed food” but that they are inspired to “follow in my footsteps and eat local, sustainable and ethically farmed food – because it tastes the best!”

Hoff says she has put in some really “hard yakka” days in an effort to bring the 100 Mile Foodie message to her customers.

“I think small business is always a challenge working 100+ hours a week for yourself compared to 40 hours for someone else sometimes takes its toll, but with determination, goal setting and amazing support from my husband I am creating the lifestyle and business that I dreamed 100 mile foodie would look like,” she says.

[image] Marlene Hoff, Founder of 100 Mile Foodie.

Hoff says support from the local community has been fantastic and she uses a mixture of print and social media to get her brand message out there.

“Snap South Dandenong team have been with me since the beginning of 100 Mile Foodie choosing colours, designs, paper quality, labels, posters, business cards…. I’m always treated like I’m the most important customer they see. I’m always so confident that everything they create is going to look great and completely reflect the highest standard I want my product to represent.”

Developing a social media strategy has also been key to building her brand.

“Embrace social media. The generation you are wanting to encourage to buy local sustainable products are the ones that are mostly on social media; so learn as much as you can as this is where the majority of your business will come from.”

In the four years since 100 Mile Foodie began, Hoff says she is heartened by how many Australians have adopted a sustainable approach to the food they eat.

“People now want to know where their food comes from. Will it still be available for the next generation? How was it farmed? We’re not happy with the advertising from the ‘Big 2’ telling us what to buy. We like to make our own choices. I’m happy more people choose local, sustainable and ethically farmed food over convenience now, it’s the way of the future for our planet to survive.”

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