Specialty Food Magazine

Winter 2020

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1194330

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Page 62 of 115

PRODUCER PROFILE A Taste of Home A homesick college freshman whips up his favorite comfort food when there is none to be found locally. And a business is born. BY JULIE BESONEN Rip (Abhishek) Pruisken, Rip Van Rip (Abhishek) Pruisken, co-CEO Age: 31 Years in specialty food: 5 Favorite food: Khichdi, an Indian dish of rice and lentils Least favorite food: I don't like cheese. Last thing I ate and loved: Gazpacho at Mercado Little Spain in New York's Hudson Yards If I weren't in the food business I'd be: Running a tech company SPECIALTY FOOD SPECIALTYFOOD.COM At Brown, Pruisken studied applied mathematics and economics, not sure how either subject would become his profession. Neither excited any passion. A fascination with Italy, its food, and history, inspired him to spend the summer after his sophomore year in the medieval city of Perugia. He took Italian classes and worked at a local bar to pay the rent on a "dilapidated" apartment where he slept in a single bed lit by a single lightbulb, he says. "I was insanely bored in the afternoons," Pruisken recalls. "It's hot and everything shuts down, everybody's taking naps. I had no internet connection. The only English books I could find were on entrepreneurship." His eureka moment about becoming an entrepreneur literally took place under that lightbulb over his bed. He thought about his childhood, what had engrossed him as a kid. He realized he loved making things, tinkering, figuring T he startup brand Rip Van broke into the U.S. cookie industry in a big way. The company's signature Dutch delicacy was first baked up 10 years ago in a college dorm room and is now sold in 14,000 Starbucks nationwide. How it all began sounds simple: A young man from Amsterdam was nostalgic for a taste of home. Abhishek Pruisken, 31, who goes by Rip, got a scholarship to study at Brown University, in Providence, R.I., and was astonished to find that he couldn't buy stroopwafels, his favorite snack. Popular in the Netherlands for centuries, the sandwich cookie is formed from two thin, crisp wafers bound together by a chewy caramel center. They are as ubiquitous there as the chocolate chip cookie is in America, Pruisken says. To introduce his American friends to the treat, Pruisken stocked up commercial brands on return trips to Amsterdam and packed them in his luggage. PHOTO RIP VAN

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