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Sincére Fare

Published:January 2021

What’s “the dream” for foodservice professionals? Flexing your creative skills every night. Sharing your craft with othersMaking connections within your community – and getting paid for it.   

For chef Josh Swinney and his business partner, mixologist Rob Thorton – who go by Chef Josh and Mixologist Rob – that dream is becoming a reality through Sincére Fare, an Atlanta-based business that brings people together through curated food and beverage experiences.  

Like most foodservice businesses – especially those that are event-based – Sincére Fare had its fair share of challenges in 2020. But the duo has held true to their values and are forging ahead with new lessons learned, new relationships built and new ideas to execute in 2021.  

Josh Swinney

Rob Thorton

Sincére Fare held its first event in 2019, but its story begins much earlier, as both Josh and Rob fostered a love for cooking as teens. Eventually, Josh graduated from culinary school, and his journey has taken him from fast casual to fine dining to his current job as a corporate chef. Meanwhile, Rob got a degree in accounting and worked behind the bar at a large chain while building his mixology skills at home, later earning his sommelier certification.   

Though Josh had his own catering business at age 16, throughout his culinary journey he has believed that “I don’t just want to be a caterer, I want to host experiences for people to try food and drinks, I want to create an atmosphere,” he says. So in 2017, he started building out the business model that would become Sincére Fare. The name comes from his belief that food should always come from the heart.   

The two connected on the concept after Josh rented out Rob’s house for a party. “At our core, Josh and I are both creators,” Rob says. And together with Josh’s background in food and Rob’s mixology skills, they knew they had something special. “It was a great match that we could highlight each person’s skill in a different way,” adds Josh.  

Each Sincére Fare experience – an intimate combination of food, beverage and entertainment – begins with Josh and Rob brainstorming around a table, asking themselves “How do we make this unique?” Rob says. “How do we ensure someone who comes here leaves feeling like it is something they’ll always remember?”   

Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis, with 2-3 reserved for local bloggers and foodies who can capture images and video of the event to share on social media. This exposure is invaluable to the growth of the business, the duo says.  

One challenge for a business with no storefront is finding regular, reliable spaces for each event and factoring that cost (along with the cost of furniture rentals, glassware and china) into ticket prices. “We want to make sure we are offering a great service, but make sure people aren’t breaking the bank,” Rob says.  

But there is an upside, namely, the ability to scale an event based on the venue. Plus, “restaurant owners like to see restaurant being used in a different way,” Rob says. “It’s a win-win when they can make money in their space during off-hours. 

Their very first event together was a Southern holiday experience to showcase Josh’s roots, but also the range of Southern cuisine. The duo hosted a five-course dinner with a live violinist. When the reviews came in, they knew that the business was taking off. 

In early 2020, Sincére Fare held a “Treat Yourself” experience complete with a lesson in ice cream making and advice from a therapist on how to foster their overall wellbeing. At the “She Is” women’s appreciation event last March, attendees shared words of affirmation with each other while indulging in a multi-course meal, live music and poetry. Guests bonded, left empowered, and the overall response was positive. “People are enjoying the environments that we have curated,” Josh says.  

Then, lockdowns happened, and any plans the team had for the rest of the year were set aside. How would Sincére Fare continue to connect people? Like everyone else, virtually. Via social channels and Zoom, “We teach individuals how to cookmake drinks and entertain,” Rob says. “We share recipes that people in the community can make. We want to create an environment to empower people to create drinks and food.”   

Other pivots included an e-book with recipes to celebrate Juneteenth, weekly Instagram Live cooking tutorials and virtual cooking class collaborations with local luxury communities 

By the end of 2020, they were back where they started, hosting another Southern Holiday Experience, this time with COVID-19 restrictions in place. The team brought local chefs Robert Butts and Briana Riddock to the table to collaborate, and each had the opportunity to tell the story of the course they prepared. “Everyone had a chance to be highlighted,” Rob says. “No one had an ego about themselves.” 

They learned that no matter the distance, people could still connect over their creations. “I have friends from Pittsburgh who became friends with people from Atlanta who connected over virtual events,” Josh says, and the team has gained clients from across the country. 

Connection is at the center of the Sincére Fare business model, from connections between guests, to partnerships with liquor brands, to collaborations with other foodservice professionals. “We’re excited to see how we will grow in our relationships as we move forward,” Josh says. That includes leveraging their corporate backgrounds and industry knowledge to help other culinarians succeed in the industry.  

The pair has big aspirations for 2021 and beyond – from honing their respective crafts to making a bigger digital impact and expand their community connections, to creating opportunities for their fellow chefs and mixologists while hosting their signature experiences in person and virtually. “We want to keep progressing and keep expanding,” Josh says.    

The duo is proud of the progress they’ve made so far, “from our first event in a living room where we were moving furniture to be able to have an event with a brick and mortar sponsored by Jack Daniel’s,” Rob reflects.   

At the end of the day, the mission of Sincere Fare comes down to two things: good food and good people to share it with. “One thing food has the power to do is bring everyone to the table no matter their differences,” Josh says, “especially when people of different backgrounds gather to enjoy good food and good beverages.”  

Because when you cook from the heart, “It’s always going to be something good.”  

 

Follow Sincére Fare on Instagram!

@sincere.fare 

@therobjr

@iamchefjosh

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