At twenty-four years old, Molly Clauhs, owner of The Silver Spork, has become an entrepreneur with a keen eye for food and business.
After moving to Grand Rapids in May of 2011 because of her fiance's job, Molly worked as an innkeeper while figuring out how to create her own business. After talking with her uncle, she decided to take on the mobile food business by investing in a food truck.
"I really liked that I would be invested in a physical asset, it felt like less of a risk," she said. "Also, food trucks have this charming and creative reputation that certainly seduced me (don't ask me if the reputation is true unless you want the bubble burst)."
While this dream was turning into reality, Molly says starting it was hard but a real learning experience for her.
"In the beginning it was really hard because I didn't know what I was doing," she said. "Then it got hard because we were busy and working to keep up with demand. Not a bad problem to have, but still exhausting."
However, the cooking aspect of the job came naturally. Molly’s mother and grandmother have operated a cooking school in Pennsylvania for more than twenty years, and now Molly’s sister is taking it over. Having graduated from Cornell with taking culinary classes there and at a cooking school in Ireland has helped Molly with her taste in creating the unique and delicious menu.
“At the end of the day, I’m not a professional chef which means my repertoire has its shortcomings but the focus isn’t on the detail, it’s on real, cooked from scratch food,” she said. “I pull inspiration and ideas from everywhere—things I ate as a child, magazines, restaurant meals I personally enjoy, ideas that come from staring at the stalls of produce at the farmers market.”
Not only does Molly work with the food truck, she also owns Grand Rapids Cooking School, offering a variety of classes for the enthusiastic home cook taught by a slew of local chefs.
“I really believe that everyone should feel comfortable in their kitchen and be able to enjoy preparing a meal,” she said. “There is a sense of calm and peace I feel when cooking and I know it is shared by many home cooks … It’s all about inspiring people to eat better and truly enjoy their food.”
As for the future of her company, Molly says that she can see The Silver Spork finding a spot downtown to spice up the workweek lunch option, expanding catering services, and continuing to provide fresh local food at farmers markets.
Often, The Silver Spork can be found at the Fulton Street Farmers market depending upon community happenings and events, the farmers market, and catering. Catering is a big part of her business.
Currently, the truck is “hibernating” waiting for what the next 2013 may hold, Molly said.
“Having a small business has been an amazing way to learn about a city and become quickly acquainted with producers, businesses hiring in catering, and the lovely eaters who sustain my business.”
Written by: Chelsea Stoskopf, an intern at Serendipity Media. She recently graduated from Grand Valley State University, and is counting down the days to her wedding in July. Photo: Steph Harding