Fawn Dietz is a foodie, mom of two, and lives on a mini farm with chickens, a big garden, and lots of fruit trees. She shares “I have just enough space to have lots of chickens, a large orchard, a big backyard, and as big of a garden as I could ever hope to tend. We have lots of apple and plum trees, a couple pear trees, an extremely old Concord grape vine, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and of course as many blackberries as we could ever want.”
She and her family live about 30 minutes outside of town which gives her the connection to nature she needs. “I love gardening and being outside. Putting my hands and feet in fertile earth makes me feel so connected and at peace. Feeding my children food that I have grown and teaching them about where food comes from feels so right. They know food doesn't come in plastic packaging from the store. We plant seeds together and watch them grow. They know what ripe and unripe food looks like. This doesn't always translate to them eating it all, but their tastes will develop with time,” she explains.
Fawn has been cooking and getting creative with food since she was a kid helping her mom in the kitchen. They lived outside of town with the nearest grocery store was 25 miles away. Fawn learned to use what was available in creative ways.
After her son was born, she realized he wasn’t growing as expected. “He was born a big guy but was tiny by the time he nine months old.” Her son would eventually be diagnosed with celiac disease. Fawn says once gluten was removed from his diet he started growing and hasn’t stopped yet!
While learning to cook in ways that were safe for her son, Fawn realized she was gluten intolerant. When her daughter was born, Fawn recognized the symptoms of a gluten allergy in her as well. Although her husband has no food allergies or sensitivities, he’s supportive and their entire home has been gluten free for over six years.
Fawn’s Eugene food cart is called STFU & NOM. STFU stands for “Sustainable, Tasty, Fresh, and Unconventional.” She opened it in 2018 with a desire to bring delicious food simply made to more people. She is proud of the fact that her gluten-free food is so good that many new people to her cart don’t realize the food is gluten free.
STFU & NOM’s menu items include dishes like Pulled Pork Panini, Duck French Dip, Steak with Red Wine Reduction, Latkes, Rosemary Garlic Fries, Pear Salad, and Butternut Squash Soup.
Fawn says that being raised by a single mom who worked for herself showed her the benefits of owning her own business. “I saw that she was able to make that decision on working- what is too much work and how much enjoyment vs money from work. She could take days off to feed her soul in her garden. Now she takes time to go to Mexico to do that as well,” Fawn explains.
She is also grateful for the support of a close friend “She is able to be that ‘hard truth’ person for me. She convinced me to make some difficult changes to the business that now at the heart of the business as it is now,” she explains.
Fawn also says there are several professional women chefs she admires.
“Just before my daughter was born my husband and I took an overnight trip to the coast. We had a beautiful dinner at Restaurant Beck which is in this little hotel on the side of Highway 101 on a cliff looking over the Pacific Ocean. It doesn't look like much on the outside. The inside is a wonderfully comfortable, intimate dining experience. What I loved the most about it was reading where all the ingredients that were in each dish came from. They only used in season and local products. The food told the story of our region and is one of the places defining Pacific northwest cuisine.”
Fawn says her biggest struggle in business has been getting carried away with ideas and possibilities. “When I first opened I had so many great ideas that I couldn't contain myself and we ended up with a new menu every day! I would try to make decisions based on what people were buying, but I was so eager to please I lost myself a bit into it. I have learned to really design a good menu I needed to look inside myself and what I want to cook and present and give, not what everyone wants,”
She would advise someone thinking about opening a food cart to work for free in the coldest and hottest months to understand exactly what the work can be like. “It is hard, back breaking work. But if you love it all the personal and family sacrifices will make everything worth it.”
She’d advise her younger self to trust in her food and to have faith in herself. She loves hearing compliments on the business or her food and knowing she is completely responsible for it.
Fawn loves when someone new comes to her food cart saying they heard about it from a friend. She also loves that her cart is entirely gluten free. “When someone says they heard we have gluten-free food and ask what the options are for them, they don’t always believe me! They say, ‘but what about this item?’ and I get to tell them its gluten free. They get so excited! I've even had people cry before.”
Although Fawn’s cart is gluten free, she doesn’t feel as if that should be what defines the food she makes. “I want people to love my food because it is local, sustainable, fresh, and represents the Pacific Northwest.”
She says her favorite MOB Alliance benefit is attending the in-person meetups. “In the digital age we get so physically isolated even though we're more in contact than ever before. I love going to meetings and seeing other moms struggling with the same work and family struggles and just being able to commiserate. I always leave feeling like I'm not alone,” she explains.
Fawn offers all MOB Alliance members 25% off her entire menu.
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