The Austin flagship store of Whole Foods Market will be the home of food truck test kitchen designed to be a center for experimenting with new ideas for the stores’ eateries, as well as a place for chefs and supplier partners to collaborate. Tien Ho, the company’s global vice president of culinary and hospitality, created the idea along with Whole Foods Market’s prepared foods team.
The truck will open on Thursday, March 10, under the name Tartinette, and will offer a selection of open-faced sandwiches and creative salads prepared by Ho, and served from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. Whole Foods Market 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 Market will partner with a new nonprofit beneficiary.
Ho recently joined Whole Foods Market after stints at many prestigious and trend-setting 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 Market shoppers.
In March, Whole Foods Market will announce Tartinette’s full menu on the flagship store’s website.