OUr Origin Story
This story begins like so many great business start up stories: over a beer.
Co-founder Russell Sparkman was a patron of co-founder JP Dowdell's restaurant, Porters Public House, outside of Langley, on Whidbey Island.
Over beers at the bar, the two would share stories of being business owners, as well as their aspirations, wishes and dreams about their future. At one point, Russell, who has a background in creative branding, digital marketing and photography/video, became a consultant to JP, helping him explore ideas he could leverage to build business opportunities beyond the walls of the restaurant.
The combination of JP's decades long experience as an executive chef and restaurateur with his artistry and skills in blacksmithing and metal work presented a nugget of an idea that with just a little forging - pun entirely intended - could turn into a real opportunity.
One afternoon, during a content and brand strategy session with JP, Russell wrote the words "food, fire, iron" on a flip pad as he listened to JP talk about his background, his desired outcomes, his dreams.
Sitting back and looking at the pad, Russell turned to JP and said "see if the domain FoodFireIron.com" is available. JP logged into his GoDaddy account, saw that the domain was available and bought it. Right there and then, Food, Fire & Iron was born!
As they continued to meet, Russell shared with JP his overseas experiences of gathering around cook fires and described ideas for food service around live fires that he had experienced in Japan, as well as Europe and Southeast Asia.
As a chef, JP shared with Russell his experiences conducting open fire and fire pit pig roasts for large catering jobs such as corporate events and weddings.
These conversations led to research for business and marketing strategy purposes that revealed that approaches to open fire cooking were in a nascent stage, both for the backyard BBQ enthusiast as well as commercial kitchens. Drawing inspiration from Argentinian approaches to open fire cooking made famous by Francis Mallmann as well as their own experiences cooking over open fire, they began to design their own approaches to conducting open fire cooks for groups, designs that are the basis of a product line that is in development.
Over time, it became evident that Food, Fire & Iron was bigger than any one person's role and that to fulfill the potential of the dream, JP and Russell formed a partnership. An essential element of Food, Fire & Iron's open fire cooking experiences is the collaboration with JP's wife, Jess Dowdell, owner and operator of catering business Roaming Radish, LLC.
To learn more about JP, Russell and Jess, check out our Crew page.