Marissa Bergeron was on the SkyTrain, going through Columbia Station in New Westminster “where there’s no reception,” when she got the call from Small Business BC about their upcoming awards.
“I was like, ‘I’ll call you back in five minutes,’ and sure enough, I couldn’t get through to them for the rest of the day, so I was pacing the house,’ said Bergeron, who is the founder and CEO of Surrey’s Eat The Dishes. “The anticipation was killing me the whole day.”
Eat The Dishes is a finalist in the Best Youth Entrepreneur category for Small Business BC Awards.
Before the awards, finalists have to pitch their business to a panel of experts Feb. 3 to 6. The awards are set for Feb. 21 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
The Now-Leader first spoke with Bergeron, who lives in Whalley, in January of 2019 during one of Eat The Dishes first market events.
Since then, Bergeron said, “So much has changed, really.
“I think you caught us at one of our very first markets. I think it was the second event we ever did, and that was at that Kwantlen winter market. So, since doing those markets where we sold about 10 to maybe 20 meals, we’ve (now) catered for the City of Surrey and done 450 meals for them.”
Bergeron said travelling around the world as a flight attendant for eight years, trying different food trucks and street vendors made her aware of something all the vendors had in common – waste.
“There’s always Styrofoam container, there’s always a plastic cup or whatever that you’re throwing out, literally, five minutes after its use.”
So Bergeron began brainstorming ideas that would eventually become Eat the Dishes, which uses “a basic recipe, kind of like pizza dough,” as its soup bowls.
Shaped like a cup, she said, the dough uses different spices and herbs based on which types of soups will be served.
Bergeron, who had been living in Dubai for eight years, said she moved back to Surrey in March of 2018 and “kind of came up with the concept (for Eat the Dishes) around then.”
During the past year, Bergeron said Eat The Dishes has improved its recipes, added new recipes and more toppings.
And the newest venture, Bergeron said, is that people can now buy their soups.
“We started to realize there was a demand for our soups. When we don’t have events, people say, ‘Well, where can we find you guys? Where can we buy the soup?’”
She said she knew of a business that does a “closed-circle economy” where they sell their product in a glass jar, which customers can then return to them so they can be reused.
Bergeron said Eat The Dishes decided to try out the concept and it’s been “well-received” so far. The jars, she said, are available at Vegan Supply where they “started small, just to see if the demand is there.” People can return their jars to Eat The Dishes at any event and the company will refund the customers $1 deposit.
She said she hopes they’ll be able to branch out to a couple of other select stores in the next six months.
“We already have customers returning the jars to us, so it’s nice to see that because we really want to stay as low waste as possible,” Bergeron said.
“That was the only way we were going to do it if there was some kind of closed-circle economy at play because we really don’t want to sacrifice our values around waste.”
For more information on Eat The Dishes, visit eatthedishes.com.