Whole Foods Market is launching a food truck test kitchen at its flagship store in Austin, Texas, to experiment with new ideas for store eateries and to explore collaborations with chefs and supplier partners. The concept was created by Tien Ho, the company’s global VP of culinary and hospitality, along with Whole Foods Market’s prepared foods team.
The truck will open Thursday, March 10, under the name Tartinette, and will offer a selection of open-faced sandwiches and creative salads prepared by Ho; it will serve from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. each day. Whole Foods will update the concept, menu and name of the truck every two months to explore food trends, seasonal flavors and vendor partnerships.
“This test kitchen is so exciting because we get to include Whole Foods Market customers in the process, using their input to create dishes that could become new favorites across the country,” Ho said. “Guests visiting the truck can expect the same high-quality, fresh ingredients found in our stores, and a menu that’s completely revamped each season. Changing it up will give us the chance to collaborate with local chefs and suppliers to create eating experiences you won’t find in any other grocery store.”
Two percent of sales from the test kitchen’s first eatery concept will benefit Whole Foods Market’s longstanding nonprofit partner, Austin Food & Wine Alliance. Funds will support the organization’s efforts to foster culinary innovation in Central Texas through grants, educational programming and events. With each new test kitchen concept, Whole Foods will partner with a new nonprofit beneficiary.
Ho recently joined Whole Foods Market after stints at many restaurants, including Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Má Pêche, Little Wisco,Café Boulud and, most recently, Morgans Hotel group. He plans to bring this innovative style to the food truck test kitchen and is considering partnerships with other national and local chefs who can bring even more new ideas to Whole Foods’ shoppers, according to the company.
In March, Whole Foods will announce Tartinette’s full menu on the flagship store’s website.