MS: What was your pivotal moment in life that made you take this direction?
BF: After working at Apple, I wanted to focus on renewable chemistry, so-called ‘green chemistry’, as a way of leveraging my previous business and technical experience to create more environmentally friendly materials. I helped start up a couple of algae fermentation businesses in the Bay Area and became interested in fermentation technology and history. As my thinking in the renewable chemistry area matured, it became clear to me that making food products through fermentation makes much more sense than making renewable fuels and chemicals.
MS: What made you want to be what you are now?
BF: I’ve always enjoyed mixing things together to see what happens. It’s a curiosity that I’ve had since I was a kid that evolved into becoming a chemist. Making soy sauce is an extension of the enjoyment I find in transforming basic elements into more complex creations.
MS: How did you get started/where did you begin?
BF: I started exploring food fermentation making cheese and then started exploring shoyu making. What attracted me to shoyu making was the complexity of the technique. It’s challenging to make a really beautiful soy sauce.
MS: What are your favorite parts about what you do?
BF: I like working independently. Quietly focused on making things. I get lost and lose track of time.
MS: What are your short-term and/or long-term goals at the moment?
BF: Short term, I’d like to build my business to be self-sustaining. It’s growing very nicely but since it’s a new business, I’m not quite comfortable with my early success. Longer term, this is actually short term goal #2, I’d like to find the right apprentice. Someone truly interested in learning, growing and devoting time to develop their craft.
MS: Do you have advice for people interested in the same field?
BF: I learn by doing things, so my advice is always – do things. Make stuff. Experiment. Of course read and reach out to potential mentors but ultimately, just make stuff.
MS: What is something(s) you wish you knew in the beginning?
BF: I wish I knew that starting a business is not that scary. My early career was all big company stuff. I found working in start-ups and my own businesses much more creative and rewarding.
MS: Who/what are your biggest inspirations and why?
BF: I’d have to say Edward O. Wilson and Jared Diamond. Both amazing authors and scholars of human culture/anthropology and human behavior/evolution. Also, Physicist Kip Thorne because I’m fascinated by gravity. Their unbounded curiosity amazes me.
MS: What is your favorite food/drink-related memory?
BF: I have to say one of my favorite food experiences was on my first trip to Japan. I had uni for the first time and never looked back. Also, eating at the seafood restaurants in Shanghai years ago where cooks picked live fish and seafood out of the aquariums for dinner.
MS: What is your favorite quote(s) and why?
BF: I never remember quotes correctly because I’m a bit dyslexic.
MS: What is your ideal day in the work life?
BF: Up early at 4:30. Fresh coffee. Breakfast with my wife, Debbi, and then off to work to make things. Usually, I’ll fill orders and cook in the morning and more meetings and admin stuff later in the day.
MS: What is your ideal non-work day?
BF: I love to garden so a day in the garden is wonderful. Also, traveling internationally – anywhere new.
MS: What are some things that keep you going?
BF: I think positive reinforcement is always a motivator. It’s great to make things and create but also having others acknowledging my work reinforces and energizes me.
MS: How do you approach a work life balance?
BF: I don’t really make that distinction anymore. I did when I was younger, but now I think - life is life no matter what I’m doing. If I’m having fun, I’ll try to do more of that, if not, I’ll do something else.
MS: What is something you wish people learned or knew more about in your industry?
BF: Shoyu is soy sauce LOL.
MS: What does supporting local mean to you?
BF: I am committed to growing my business by supporting local farmers. That literally means buying from farmers in CT. I currently work with a few farmers on crop plans and commit to buy from them at harvest. I’ll continue to do this and add farms/crops/acreage to support my business as it grows.
MS: Do you have advice or encouragement for ways to support local?
BF: For me, I’m encouraging farmers to plant crops that I use in my products. As far as retail, Mystic, CT has an outstanding variety of retail shops that we love to buy from. It’s also great to get to know the owners and share thoughts on our businesses and the local economy.
MS: How would you define success?
BF: I’d define success as being grateful for being present, here, and now.