Interview with Philip Paternotte, Grizzl
- 5 min read
I chose to study at Hotelschool The Hague because I always had a thing about hospitality and I wanted to be educated to become an all-round general manager.
I really enjoyed my time at Hotelschool The Hague. I had a fantastic time in the Skotel, learning to work together, doing everything together, working in groups. I learned a lot; it gives you the perfect basis for your future career. To develop even more and to deepen my knowledge, I followed a Master in Business Administration in Barcelona afterwards. And then I was ready for a serious career. So I decided to start frying fries, haha. Why not!
My first internship was at the St. Andrews golf resort where I worked as a sommelier. Very cool, working with drinks, advising people on the difference in wines. Before I started I only knew the difference between red and white wine. At the golf resort everything was so decadent, people just threw money around. I received a lot of invitations because people wanted to get to know the course, and I knew the course. It was amazing: invitations for dinners, golf tournaments, from people like Hugh Grant, Kevin Costner and famous football players.
My second internship was at Heineken International, at the Sport Marketing Department. I was responsible for the activities around the Champions League, organising a Hospitality Programme for all their relations.
After my Master I applied for different jobs, but it was a very bad time and I received rejection after rejection. That’s why I decided to start for myself, and that was the start of Grizzl.
I missed a good tasty and sustainable snack in the centre of Amsterdam. I worked out a plan and convinced my parents and friends. The food truck scene was upcoming, so that was perfect. I bought an 8.5 meter truck which already had a fryer in it. The concept is simple: 5 snacks, always a combination between meat and vegetarian, and on the side, fries with skin. The great thing about a truck is that you get immediate feedback, you can see people’s reactions. So you know what snacks work, and which ones should be improved. We are now in our second season and we are doing even better than the first season. We are growing and slowly we are looking for a permanent location, a store.
The food truck does bring you to very special events. The most special so far was a Gothic festival, where everybody was dressed in leather and latex. We almost went to an event on a drilling platform. Pretty exciting, however unfortunately it was cancelled.
Where our name comes from? Well, a bear is always looking for food, and we are also always looking for the most sustainable options: more sustainable, ecological or locally produced. Taste comes first, secondly there has to be a division between meat and vegetarian, and thirdly it has to be sustainable.
Places with cheap fried snacks like Febo are no competition for us. We have a very different target audience. I do notice that the group looking for a better, healthier snack is becoming bigger and bigger. The same group is also looking for more vegetarian alternatives. We want to have a snack for everyone. We are developing vegetarian snacks but we will always serve meat eaters as well.
In 5 years I would love to have stores in the 4 main cities in the Netherlands, with the food truck driving around the country as our business card. I can also see ourselves moving to different trucks, in different sizes focusing on different snacks, to be able to cater to different needs and in different situations.
But for now the biggest problem for us is finding a good location in the centre of Amsterdam. So far we haven’t yet succeeded with that; we are still looking. But I can say with almost certainty that we will open a store next year!