We interviewed chef Max Snyder from Rogue Radish, Austin (his newly open food trailer serving farm-fresh bowls), as well as former chef of Pitchfork Pretty. During our chat, chef Snyder walked us through the process of launching his latest project during 2020— a perfect example of finding silver linings in the crisis—, and spoke about the challenges of scaling sustainable kitchen operations.
Chef Max Snyder’s portfolio in the restaurant industry includes some of the hottest kitchens in the U.S. like Coi, Eleven Madison Park, and the NoMad. In 2015, he joined the opening of Old Bus Tavern, elevating a former brewpub into a full-fledged dining destination. From his beginnings in San Francisco, he returned to Austin and brought his love for farm produce and culinary skills to Pitchfork Pretty. His latest opening of Rogue Radish is for him an opportunity to slow down and scale back.
What brought you to open Rogue Radish and how has it been so far?
Around the time I was closing my restaurant during covid, one of our suppliers mentioned to me that she had a food trailer on her property. We made a deal to have the trailer for a year in exchange for bringing it back to life. We’ve had it parked in the Este Garden since February. It was a great opportunity that came during this year, that we wouldn’t have probably chased down otherwise.
What’s the concept behind Rogue Radish?
Lots of different things. Minimizing food waste, for example, is something that has been on my mind for a long time working in restaurants because you really see how disruptive and wasteful restaurants are. Even in operations that are really striving to minimize waste. It’s just the nature of it. And at some point, that kind of starts worrying you a little bit. Rogue Radish was an opportunity to have a restaurant concept that is closer to being a cleaner business. I think this is a big part of why it’s not that crowd-pleaser kind of restaurant— it’s not fried, not so much meat on the menu.
Do you use any techniques to reduce food waste?
It’s a hard thing to scale, I think. With a one-person-operating thing, however, it’s really possible. For example, at the food trailer, we do compost through Grub Tubs.
What about your menu at Rogue Radish?
It’s a small menu. This is a way for us to be really flexible with seasonality and supplies availability. Our basic bowl is our menu and it changes depending on what we get. And then there are a few things you can add on, that are more staples. We have grilled goods preparation, marinated farmed eggs, a couple of different sauces, and pickles. But the basic bowl is made up of different layers of vegetables, like three different kinds of salads in one bowl.
Do you think sustainability is gonna be a bigger topic?
I think so. Increasingly, it will be easier to convince people that sustainability is an essential part of operating a business. It’s even beneficial marketing so there is no way that that won’t be happening.