The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine 

FEBRUARY 27, 2003     PAGE FOUR      
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 News & Product Of The Month
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 Meet The Merchant
 Questions and Answers
 Recipes: Chicken & Pecans
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Synergy Diet

  The Low Carb Connoisseur

                  Meet The Merchant

Low Carb Luxury offers a Special Feature called "Meet The Merchant" that allows you, the reader (and shopper) to get a better "look" at the merchants we all deal with. There's a nice "comfort level" that comes with knowing something about the merchant to whom you trust your shopping needs.

This issue features the The Home Bistro / Low Carb Meals, and was written by co-owner David R. Thompson.


     How It All Started
                                  "Providence has hidden a charm in difficult undertakings,
                             Which is appreciated only by those who dare to grapple with them."
                                                                      Anne-Sophie Swetchine

Like a great many things in life I guess, the creation of Home Bistro Low Carb Meals and was the result of lots of hard work, a great deal of luck, and a whole lot of chance.

I started my adventure in the food industry back in 1981 with what was at the time General Foods. I was fresh out of college with a degree in economics, but not really sure what I wanted to do with my life. Somehow I managed to land an entry-level job scheduling trucks and rail cars in and out of their Northeast Region distribution center. After many years of working my way through various assignments at General Foods, along with a 2-year side trip to get my MBA at the Kellogg Graduate school of Management at Northwestern, I eventually became a Brand Manager in the Birds Eye frozen vegetable division.

Birds Eye is where I got my first experience in frozen dinners. In typical big company fashion, I was equipped with a 6-figure market research budget to "discover" things that everyone really already knows… In this case, that people need great tasting convenient meals because they like to eat and cooking every night is a pain! The expensive "epiphany" led me to create and launch Birds Eye Easy Recipe® meal kits. It was an immediate hit and is still on the shelves more than 12 years later, having established a whole new category in the freezer case.

That success earned me an opportunity to move to Long Island New York to run the marketing and public relations on the Entenmann's cake brand. That's where my struggle with weight began. While my kids thought it was the greatest thing in the world that dad got to taste chocolate chip cookies as part of his job, my waistline wasn't nearly as impressed. I was reminded of that old episode of Cheers where Norm briefly got a job tasting beer... definitely trouble. It was bad enough that cake and donuts were everywhere, and that you were allowed to take home 2 boxes a day for free, but I literally had to attend a 3-hour cake tasting every Friday morning! After nearly three years and 30 pounds later I felt awful.

I knew that if I didn't get out of the cake business I'd never reverse the trend, so I took a marketing job with a small frozen meat and seafood company — and that's when luck really struck. I met Scott Stillman and Denis Chauvin. Scott and Denis were partners in a small, Vermont-based company that supplied us with a variety of frozen food products for resale — lasagna, potpies and such. Over the next couple of years I got to know Scott and Denis as two straight-forward, hard working entrepreneurs, not to mention nice guys. I also learned that they were highly skilled chefs who had trained in top Michelin rated restaurants in Paris. They had simply decided that restaurant hours were not for them so they had started this small food manufacturing operation.

To my amazement, I also learned that they had spent 12 years developing a process to produce and freeze restaurant quality meals for sale — meals that went from freezer to table in about 10 minutes! Mostly through word-of-mouth they had established a small business selling their products to other chefs who ran various foodservice operations that benefited from the fact that the meals were made in advance, could be stored frozen, and required little skill to prepare in a hurry. Their client list included some small cruise ship operators, deluxe passenger rail car lines, and restaurants around the Northeast, including one in the World Trade Center.

                        Home Bistro
When I discovered their line of restaurant style meals, I instantly thought that consumers around the country would appreciate a great meal without the hassle of shopping, cooking and cleanup. I approached Scott and Denis with the concept of a food catalog featuring the meals. They immediately responded, "How do we get started?" That's all it took and within a matter of months the Home Bistro catalog was born.

Now fast forward three years later… Home Bistro is doing well but struggling to grow with limited financial resources and I'm still struggling to lose my "body by Entenmann's," working long hours and getting little exercise. My older brother came to stay with us over the Christmas holiday. I noticed right away that he had lost a great deal of weight since we had last seen each other. His pants were just about hanging off him. When I asked him about it, he said he was on the Atkins diet. I was surprised and had the usual skeptical reaction that I think we all do at first. But I also decided I had to try it!

Right after the holidays my wife, Bernadette, and I bought the Atkins book and between us lost about 45 pounds in a very short amount of time, and we felt great. That was all I needed to know. My wife and I were never going to go back to our old way of eating. I mentioned our weight loss success to Scott, and as chance would have it, he said he and his wife had also been on the Atkins diet. We knew right away that we had our next product line and the R&D began.
Home Bistro Meals
Finally in June of 2002 we were finally able to secure a small round of venture capital financing. The investment was the spark the business needed to take off. In the subsequent six months our sales increased by a factor of 22. The new capital also enabled us to complete the R&D work and launch the Home Bistro Low Carb line of meals and the website last November.

Now our biggest problem is in trying to keep up with all the orders! Demand has been so strong that we have had to cut back on catalog mailings in order to catch up.

The good news is that we are working on the design of a significantly larger kitchen facility that we expect to open this summer. And of course we are working diligently to expand the Low Carb menu with many more varieties, including breakfast, hot lunches, and induction meals. And with a little more luck we'll make it so you can low carb without ever having to cook again!

Bon Appetit!

                  David Thompson
                  Home Bistro Low Carb Meals
                  (800) 628-5588

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