Union Kitchen Member Dirty South Deli shares who they are, what they do, what they love, what they have learned, and what’s next. Hungry for more? Visit the DS Deli Pop-up at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), now through April.
Follow this link for a Dirty South Deli playlist, courtesy of Will and Jacob.
Who We Are
Will Fung and Jacob Hunter met when working for Matchbox Food Group and founded Dirty South Deli earlier this year. Both have over 15 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Fung grew up in Hong Kong before moving to the States as a teen. He worked at sushi restaurants before landing a job with Matchbox. Hunter started working as a bus boy as a teen and wound up attending culinary school. He worked in high-volume catering and restaurants in Atlanta, Memphis, and at McCormick & Schmick’s in DC before joining Matchbox.
What We Do
Dirty South brings a sense of fun and playfulness to what is often a very basic food.
“I’ve always loved sandwiches,” Hunter says. “I have a huge sandwich tattooed on my arm. They’re just fun. It’s kind of a classic food.” Although there were already several good sandwich shops in the city, they noticed that not many food trucks specialized in sandwiches. They saw an opportunity to put their own “different, crazy spin on sandwiches” with the Dirty South Deli Truck. Soon, they started offering twists on the basic sandwich that played to customers’ sense of nostalgia and whimsy. They aren’t afraid to put anything between two pieces of bread —from potato chips to fried bologna to Kung Pao broccoli. The two consider the truck a “mini-restaurant” and say their restaurant experience will continue to influence their approach tocasual fare.
In addition to the NMWA pop-up, Dirty South offers catering. Fung and Hunter also participate in local community events, like this past weekend’s Parcel Market at Canal Park and a recent holiday event at 3 Stars Brewing.
What We Love
Fung and Hunter are “finally seeing it start to pay off,” and love the “instant gratification” of serving customers and seeing their positive reaction to the food. They appreciate “seeing the success, from the likes and follows on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to people actually coming in… [and] people actually searching us out.” Fung also loves “people being surprised…[because they]… didn’t expect it to be this good.” For them, the realization that “people actually like the food” is the ultimate “ego-boost.”
What We’ve Learned
Since founding Dirty South Deli several months ago, Fung and Hunter have continuously learned lessons big and small. For Hunter, with his experience opening sports arenas, cooking at high-volume restaurants, and running large catering operations, adjusting to a much smaller operation has brought some surprises. He learned that “just because you can do one thing, doesn’t mean you can automatically do this.” He finds himself learning almost every day while running a small business. “It’s kind of humbling…in a good way and a bad way. …It’s you and your partner grinding it out every day,” with no full restaurant staff to fall back on.
The experience has reminded Fung of the importance of the friendships he and Hunter developed during their years in the industry. The two have called on friends for help, and Fung was heartened by the number of friends turning up to support them. “People come and help us out with accounting or being a cashier for a day, just the friends we’ve met over the years. …It’s been gratifying…people actually showing up and offering us help.”
Right now, Fung and Hunter are still try to balance their pop-up, truck, and catering operations. Their focus for the immediate future is “ “getting the truck on the road and running the café, catering, and truck all at once.” Much farther in the future, the two hope to open a brick-and-mortar location.
What We Do
Undone Chocolate makes bean to bar, craft chocolate in Washington, DC. We create small batches of antioxidant rich organic chocolate with beans sourced directly from small producers. Our dark chocolate contains only two ingredients: organic cacao and organic sugarcane, which is the basis for all of our antioxidant rich chocolate bars.
Why We Went Into Food
Founders Adam and Kristen Kavalier came to chocolate from different directions: Adam from science and Kristen from addiction. Adam stumbled upon cacao while getting his PhD in plant chemistry and became obsessed with the cocoa bean as a source of antioxidants.
After making small batches in their NYC apartment and running science experiments on the quality of beans, Adam and Kristen realized they wanted to share their passion for handcrafted, bean to bar antioxidant rich chocolate and get everyone hooked, especially in the District. They moved cities and started Undone Chocolate in 2014.
What Have We Learned
You make friends with chocolate.
It is possible to survive on chocolate for days at a time.
Everything about chocolate making takes 3 times longer than expected.
What We Love
Chocolate. Blissed-out faces of people who eat our chocolate. And the I-can’t-believe-chocolate-comes-from-a-tree-and-takes-three-weeks-to-make looks when we explain how chocolate is made and how we preserve the amazing properties to, well, get that blissed-out look on your face.
What Is Next For Us
Tastings, tours, trips to the jungle, and more chocolate.