Food Maker Paleo Robbie in His Own Words
Paleo Robbie, founder of Paleo Robbie food delivery service, is a familiar figure on Bangkok’s market circuit and is always eager to share his thoughts on food which he posts on www.paleorobbie.com. Read on for how he got started and why he looks forward to market days.
Q: WHEN DID PALEO ROBBIE FIRST BEGIN AND HOW LONG WAS IT UNTIL YOU QUIT YOUR DAY JOB?
A: We started out officially in March 2013. It was a full time job from the get-go and I remember waking up at 2am to prepare all the meals and delivering them myself on the motorbike until late in the afternoon. We started with an existing customer base as I had been cooking for my friends from home for a while. I used to invite them for a large lamb leg roast and they kept on inviting more of their friends. At some point we had 16 people at the dinner table in my house and I couldn’t fit them anymore. Hence the start of Paleo Robbie.
Q: WHAT FIRST DREW YOU TO THE PALEO DIET?
A: I was working 60-80 hours a week in an office in Gibraltar. I started to put on significant weight and my health deteriorated quickly due to the stress and poor nutrition. My doctor at the time recommended me a low fat diet with lots of grains and soy products. I remember I became incredibly weak and sick shortly after following his advice. I was certain diet was the issue and the doctor recommendation wasn’t working. My brother meanwhile was working similar hours, but also running a triathlon and doing intense adventure races while being much, much older. Our parents insist we share the same genes, so how come he was in such good shape? He started sending me articles on the paleo diet and after 6 months of intensive reading I decided to discard my doctors advice and go full paleo. I lost 30kg in 5 months, my asthma cleared up completely, my migraine disappeared for the most part and I could play football 3-4 times a week again. I had never felt better and I stuck to it ever since.
Q: DO MOST OF YOUR CUSTOMERS KNOW ABOUT THE DIET OR IS THERE A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF EDUCATION THAT IS REQUIRED?
A: I would say we have a core base who are paleo enthusiasts and know a lot about the topic and many challenge me with new information and difficult questions every week. However, the majority of our customers seem to simply enjoy the convenience and good value of the meals knowing they are all ethically sourced and made with the best ingredients for their health regardless of whether its paleo or not. Health is unfortunately an incredibly complex topic and it’s the reason why there is so much poor information out there with all kinds of fad diets that disappear quickly over time.
Q: YOUR FOOD ALWAYS LOOKS DELICIOUS. AT MARKETS DO YOU FIND THAT SOME SHOPPERS ARE DRAWN TO YOUR FOOD FIRST AND THE PALEO CONCEPT IS SECONDARY?
A: I would say most people are interested in the Paleo concept at the market. It’s probably something new and they often don’t expect to find a paleo vendor in Bangkok. I would also say a lot of the food at the markets looks absolutely amazing of course, so it’s hard to stand out.
Q: THE PALEO DIET IS NOT WITHOUT ITS CRITICS. HOW DO YOU COUNTER CLAIMS THAT IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO MIMIC THE DIET OF OUR HUNTER-GATHERER ANCESTORS?
A: I don’t counter that critic. I actually entirely agree that it’s impossible to mimic the diet of our ancestors. The food you would find nowadays is nothing like what our ancestors consumed. Anything from broccoli, lettuce and even beef has been completely altered by mankind from the original version of nature. However, that does not mean the paleo diet is wrong. It is simply a criticism that perhaps we shouldn’t call it the paleo diet, but perhaps the no refined sugar, no wheat, no food colorings, no food additives, no food flavourings, no processed rancid oils, no etc. etc. diet. For some reason that doesn’t sound quite as catchy. In day to day life the paleo frame work is incredibly helpful when making snap decisions whether something is good to eat or not and that’s why I like it. I have no intention of running around the savannah wearing nothing but a leopard skin trying to catch a porcupine.
Q: YOU IMPORT A LOT OF YOUR MEAT TO ENSURE THE QUALITY. HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO MAINTAIN THE QUALITY OF YOUR LOCAL PRODUCE? HOW DO YOU KNOW IT REALLY IS ORGANIC?
A: That is really a tricky one and unfortunately I don’t have a straight answer for this. A lot of the farming practices in Thailand are questionable with regards to pesticide and herbicide usage. Since we use produce from many different farms and sources it’s impossible to personally ensure all of them are 100% organic. Luckily there are organizations such as Adams Organics and SCE Organics who work together with farmers in terms of education, oversight and production. They help us a great deal making sure we always have good quality fresh produce at hand.
Q: COMPETITION FOR FOOD DELIVERY SERVICES FROM INDEPENDENT, NON-RESTAURANT KITCHENS IS GROWING IN BANGKOK. HOW ARE YOU MEETING THE CHALLENGE?
A: I’m happy to see more food delivery services popping up. It means the demand is growing and we’re riding the right trend. I think the Bangkok market is big enough for all of us, so I’m keen to see good competitors out there. This way we can check ideas from others to improve our own service. Also it helps that there are others out there in terms of supply. If more of us demand real organic free-range chicken, then farmers will become more interested to raise them and prices will eventually go down. So all in all I’m happy to see the latest developments in Bangkok.
Q: HAS YOUR CLIENT BASE ALTERED FROM WHEN YOU BEGAN TO NOW? ARE THERE PARTICULAR CUSTOMER GROUPS THAT ARE HUNGRIER FOR PALEO THAN OTHERS?
A: Certainly. When we first started out a 100% of my customers were my friends who were working busy jobs in Bangkok and didn’t like to cook for themselves, but also wanted to eat healthier than what the restaurants could give them at a reasonable price. Nowadays we see a huge shift to Thai customers and I’m happy to see it. We still have our core customer groups in the international schools, gyms and expat families though.
Q: PALEO ROBBIE HAS BEEN ON THE MARKET SCENE FOR A COUPLE YEARS NOW. WHY DO YOU ATTEND MARKET DAYS AND HOW DOES IT HELP YOUR BUSINESS?
A: It’s always fun to interact with customers directly. It helps you put a face to the names ordering meals from you and it’s a great place to get to know them better. The idea behind this company was to help people take control of their own health and change the way people eat. So whatever feedback I can get from customers is very helpful and often you meet the nicest people at the markets. So please come check us out at the market next time. Every last Sunday of the month at the Spring Epicurean Market, Sukhumvit 49/11.