Get to know a Toronto startup: The Mantry
As a man, you have a slew of manly choices when it comes to marinating your chicken, but few turn to the Congolese Hot Sauce banned in 3 continents to make an impression. Reggie Milligan and Kyle Zien are helping us change that. It's called The Mantry, a clever naming spin on the modern man's pantry. Every month, the guys at The Mantry scour the planet to uncover guy-specific food and beverage greatness that is delivered directly to your door. Sounds awesome? That's because it is.
With a strong background in the culinary arts, Reggie and Kyle believe that guys deserve better when it comes to getting advice in the kitchen. In a recent poll of modern men, it was proven that Rachel Ray's cooking advice isn't exactly resonating with the average guy (yes, they made that up).
Even though they were swamped filling orders, I managed to carve out some time in their calendar to learn a bit more about how their life has changed since they launched The Mantry.
Before we jump into the Mantry, tell me a bit about your backgrounds?
Reggie received a $40,000 scholarship to culinary school and burnt out at The French Laundry before he was 19. He was lucky enough to work under Thomas Keller in 2004 as The French Laundry was voted the World's Best Restaurant. Kyle also spent the last few years in the restaurant/beverage industry traveling throughout North America.
We both have spent enough time being passionate about food to recognize that guys deserve better when it comes to getting good products and no BS advice on how to use them.
Talk to me about The Mantry. Where did the idea come from?
We went back to a buddy's place for a little after party and as usual, everyone was hungry. We scoured his fridge and cupboards and found nothing but a container of Hellmann's mayo and a bottle of French's mustard. We realized that guys are busy, and even if they love food and want cool products, they just don't always have the time to make it happen.
Our belief is that a big chunk of guys are being misrepresented as hopeless in the kitchen, when realistically, the modern guy is completely competent when given the right tools and relevant advice. A pantry is like your closet for food. If you have a couple decent items you can always throw something respectable together. If it's empty, you're most likely not going have that lady back for a second date.
What comes in a typical Mantry box?
It's Christmas once a month for our subscribers. Except instead of Mandarin Oranges and Razors, guys get Reindeer Jerky and an award winning sauce from a hipster who spent three days making it in Brooklyn.
What is the furthest place you have shipped to?
What sounds trendy? Osaka? Lisbon? Buenos Aires? No, we'll go with Buenos Aires.
I'd go with Osaka, but that's just me. On that topic, who is the typical Mantry subscriber? Is the subscription usually purchased as a gift (by loving women) or are men actually checking out the service?
We originally aimed to hook guys up with interesting products that they could share with their bro's or use to impress a lady. Soon after, emails started piling up from girls admitting they actually peek in dudes cupboards and automatically pass judgment. We have women subscribers who are buying for their guys as gifts all the way to women who are just fully buying for themselves. Even though the majority of subscribers are men, we're psyched to see the ladies getting involved as well.
Order subscription services seem to be getting some media attention (Dollar Shave Club's awesome viral video and Manpacks), what sets you guys apart?
Whether it's razors, socks or underwear, it all just comes down to convenience. Our main difference is that with food, it's tough to find products from the world's most talented artisans and producers at your local supermarket. We take care of the discovery for you.
Are there any big plans for the Mantry in the near future?
Scrap, claw and hustle to stay alive so one day we can shamelessly spin this thing into a Food Travel Show. I heard Bourdain just jumped ship for CNN and we're game for his old Travel Channel gig. It would be tough going to work every morning knowing that your job would be traveling the planet boozing and schmoozing with everyone from elite chefs down to the 80 year old woman who makes the best bowl of Pho in Hanoi.
We have also been thinking about having celebrities start curating boxes with their favorite items. We're looking at you Zach Galifianakis, seriously, what the hell is in your pantry?
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