Last Thursday, Trine hosted two local business owners, Greg Gunthorp and Pete Eshelman. Both were featured in the Indiana Humanities book, Food for Thought: An Indiana Harvest. Greg and Pete spoke about their past, and how they grew their businesses.
Greg Gunthorp is the proud owner of Gunthorp farms located in Lagrange, Indiana. Greg is a fourth generation pig farmer. He raises pigs, chickens, and turkeys. Unlike most farms, Greg raises free-range animals. In other words, he raises them in a natural environment. The animals are not housed in cages, or given processed food and antibiotics.
In 1998, Greg’s business was struggling. He recounts selling pigs for cheaper than what his grandfather did during the Great Depression. Greg would finally catch a break when he spoke about sustainable agriculture at a convention in Missouri. After his speech, he met with fellow farmers. One of them told Greg about a friend in Oregon who was delivering pigs to a restaurant in Chicago, but was no longer interested in raising pigs. Greg followed this lead, which led him to contact the person in charge of the kitchen at Charlie Trotter’s. Greg’s business skyrocketed. He now sells some of the finest meats to restaurants across the midwest.
Pete Eshelman is the founder of Joseph Decuis restaurant and emporium. It is nationally recognized for its fine dining experience.
Pete is not your typical farmer. He did not come from a family of farmers. Before moving to Indiana with his wife Alice, Pete played baseball for the Yankees. He later started his own sports insurance business. Joseph Decuis was initially created to entertain clients. Due to its success, the Joseph Decuis restaurant was opened in 2000. Since then, it has expanded to include a farm, a retail store, a cafe, and a bed and breakfast. People can visit the farm to see where and how their food is raised. The farm has also become a great place to host weddings.
Joseph Decuis’ success is mostly due to wagyu, a breed of cattle known for its great taste. Pete traveled across the U.S., and even to Japan to learn more. While in Japan, Pete met Mr. Shogo Takeda. Mr. Takeda is the number one wagyu farmer in Japan. He taught Pete everything there is to know about raising wagyu. With this knowledge, Pete created one of the best dining experiences in the country.
Both speakers gave fantastic presentations. I was fascinated with their stories. It was interesting to hear how being at the right place at the right time, and having a mentor can impact the success of your business.