Help us re-open the kitchen at Carte Blanche and bring our food back to the streets of Portland, Oregon. Read more
This project was successfully funded on April 3, 2013.
About this project
My name is Jessie Aron, and I really want to cook for you. I am the owner of Carte Blanche, a food cart in Portland, Oregon. Last year, after a very successful first season, I closed the cart temporarily. I did this because the kitchen needs considerable repairs and winter was presenting many new physical and logistical challenges.
During this break from the cart, I started to miss it like crazy. I also had time to consider every aspect of the business and its potential. I refined a plan to re-emerge as a strong, weather-resistent, visionary, and exceptional food cart with a future in the Portland food scene.
I recently learned that our old location on SE 32nd and Hawthorne is available to us, and I am jumping at the chance to move back to that corner. With your help, I am ending our one year hiatus now. I am launching this campaign to rebuild and reopen before the summer.
I am not going to be able to say this as well as I'd like to, but the truth is, I am doing this because I miss the people who came to the cart. I miss meeting them, listening to them talk about food, and watching them react when they couldn't believe what they were tasting. I learned that simple exchanges can be remarkable and exhilarating. I crave those exchanges now. It is my goal to make a living cooking for these people and for anybody who notices and takes an interest in what we're doing.
This stage of the process is very money-centric (which is weird for me), but there's something else. I am asking for more than that. I am asking you to do this with me. Running a business is the kind of adventure that can get terrifying and lonely. But in gathering your support, I start to understand that I am not alone in this. You are my co-conspirators. You are showing me that Carte Blanche is valuable, and it will come back because it belongs with you, on your way home from work or before your next class or on Saturday with your dog. It deserves to be a place that people can go, if they're in the mood for a surprise.
For curious people who are new to us, Carte Blanche is a bit different, and the concept can take some getting-used-to. There is no theme to the food we make: we cook whatever we want, and we change the menu constantly. Sample menus:
"Carte Blanche" is a french term meaning the freedom to do whatever one likes. I chose this name because I dislike boring food situations and I love genius cooking experiments, secret ingredients, and mouth epiphanies.
I use our favorite seasonal ingredients and cultural influences to dream up sandwiches, bowls, salads, and snacks. I love grilled summer peaches with mascarpone cheese, balsamic caramelized onions, mangoes and spice rubs, kaffir lime leaves in coconut milk, crispy shallots, apricot bourbon bbq chicken, grilled corn with turmeric butter, eggplant and zucchini fries, charred scallion sour cream, candied bacon, rosemary beets, miso caramel, beer braised ribs, chocolate sauce, sticky rice, sherry buttered mushrooms, sweet soy glazed salmon, roasted squash, and fresh curry paste from scratch. And a million other things.
The atmosphere I try to create is whimsical and very comfortable. Like an eccentric auntie's breakfast nook or a tree house or a secret fort.
To get a better feel of what we're about, I encourage you to read a handful (any handful!) of our yelp reviews.
Where the Money is Going
The funds raised here on Kickstarter will go toward replacing our broken kitchen floor, professionally cleaning the oven, acquiring permits and licenses, insurance fees, purchasing lots of new kitchen equipment, new outdoor furniture for a comfortable seating area, heaters for winter, an outdoor storage shed, re-stocking the pantry, promoting our re-opening, and other surprise costs that will inevitably and peskily pop up.
If we are fortunate enough to exceed our goal, the additional money will help us look toward the future. I hope to create a luxurious, comfortable, covered and heated patio for guests in the winter and perhaps even acquire a beer and wine license.
Risks and challenges
Carte Blanche is no stranger to these.
One of our greatest challenges is storage space. The cart is small, and our demand is not, especially in good weather. To keep up with our volume, we need to creatively make more space. By purchasing an outdoor storage area, I can banish all non-essential, non-edible items from the cart and thus begin to tackle this problem.
Another challenge is cold weather. It is an enemy of food carts, and I have a plan to fight it. In addition to providing comfortable and warm seating, I will promote carry-out meals in the winter and provide a call-in service so that customers can order their food ahead and pick it up at their chosen time without having to wait. Also, we will switch to a winter schedule in which we open and close earlier.
Finally, I want to mention balancing overhead costs with incoming revenue. This challenge is obvious for any business, and completely relevant to mine. Part of my new business plan involves a much more comprehensive budget, based on our sales history. I am extremely confident that we can overcome and manage our costs effectively. I am excited about the structural improvements (which I have had considerable help developing!) because they will allow us to reach more people without ever compromising the quality of our dishes.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
Pledge $5 or more
Friendship! My heartfelt gratitude expressed with your name on our website, plus a knowing glance + a definitive thumbs-up between pals.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10 or more
You will receive a personal hand-written message on a custom-made Carte Blanche post card. The message will definitely contain my gratitude, but it may also contain my recipe for kale chips, a prophecy of good fortune, and other secrets. There will probably be a cool stamp, too, because I got a book of baobab tree stamps and I haven't used them yet.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $20 or more
18 backers Limited (124 left of 142)
You will receive a miniature and ridiculous piece of Carte Blanche history - a very small plastic egg filled with a thimbleberry-sized scroll entitling you to some delicious sweet potato tots (or an equivalent snack) at Carte Blanche and at least 2 of the following: a detailed tiny food sculpture, a confusing yet generous hand-written prophecy, a page of stickers featuring weird dinosaurs, outer space, muffins, birds of paradise, shiny turtles, or dogs wearing hats. Plus, all the delights of the $10 package.Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $25 or more
14 backers Limited (34 left of 48)
A bounty! you will receive a container of highly coveted, cart-made crispy shallots. These are the favorite garnish of Carte Blanche. Impress your enemies and friends with some relentlessly crunchy accoutrement on salads and curries, in sandwiches and stews, underneath wedges of brie, and nestled in waffles. Crispy shallots are delicious on every edible thing, except tiramisu and pudding. Also, you receive the $10 package.Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $35 or more
Music! You will be sent the first and second albums of the gleefully unmarketable rock band A Cautionary Tale (www.itsacautionarytale.com). What does this have to do with Carte Blanche? Very little! Except I am in love with one of the band members. And I believe this music deserves an audience. And it's "Carte Blanche," so....We play Calvinball on this team. Also, you will receive the full $10 package.Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $35 or more
8 backers Limited (38 left of 46)
Fashion! Along with your post card, You will receive a fashion-forward, pajama-appropriate silk screened Carte Blanche T-shirt. 100% cotton, made by American Apparel. They are available in women's size medium or large in mint or cranberry, men's size medium or large in cranberry or royal blue.Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $50 or more
This is where it gets serious. You will be postally presented with an invitation to the (invitation-only) Soft Re-opening of Carte Blanche. We will be offering a full tasting of the first menu, and you will be encouraged to eat your fill! Music, suspense, friendship, intrigue, and mischief will meet you at every turn. See and be seen as all of Portland's food scene glitterati will totally be there.* Plus, you'll get the $10 package. If you are out of the Portland area or can't make it that night, I will gladly arrange a different reward with you through email.
*Unless the glitterati are busy or haven't heard of Carte Blanche or don't like crispy shallots.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $75 or more
No nonsense! The $50 package plus the $35 music package. Blam!Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $100 or more
Two invitations (one for you and one for someone you like) to our amazing soft opening party. Also, predictably, you will receive an assortment of previously mentioned tokens of sincere thanks. Your postcard, however, will be violently adorned with dinosaur stickers and will include a proclamation entitling you carte blanche at Carte Blanche on one day of your choice. This sounds confusing. What it means is that for one day, you will eat free of charge and order what you like (up to $30 worth), feeling free to artistically re-interpret and re-design the dishes to suit your liking. Extra sugar snaps? No aioli? Mashed potatoes sculpted to look like Chairman Mao? No problem! Plus, you'll get the $35 music package, handed to you when you visit the cart. As always, if you are geographically out of reach, I will arrange an alternative reward with you personally.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $250 or more
Wow. Thank you. A dish on one of our menus will be named to honor you. Also, you will receive 2 passes to our amazing soft re-opening party, a day of free meals at Carte Blanche for you and 3 of your chosen family/associates/entourage (up to $100 worth), a personal thank you, a place of honor on our website, the $35 music package (handed to you when you visit the cart), and my socks being blown off by your incredible generosity.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or more
3 backers All gone!
You, culinary enthusiast, will be entitled to a private cooking lesson, followed by a tasting of our lesson's exquisite results. The class will be held on the date of your choice, in my kitchen or yours. You may include as many as two other lucky aspiring chefs in your entourage (any age or experience level is welcome). You will choose your favorite dishes for the class, and I will provide the ingredients, equipment, recipes, and guidance to coax a feast onto your table. In addition, you will receive the complete $100 package and the $35 music package.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $1,000 or more
The complete $250 package, quadrupled, and Alli Wong's first-born (subject to availability)**
**This statement is completely false. Sorry, Alli!Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $1,000 or more
If, in real life, you are able to contribute this miraculous amount, I will design a reward based on your preferences. Cooking lessons, a private dinner party, free Carte Blanche for a year, everything is possible.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
- (30 days)