Greenville chef Adam Sturm quit his job at a high-end restaurant in 2013 and purchased a white Chevrolet P20 step van from Craigslist.
Three years later that investment has led to local acclaim, a growing business and now, a partnership with Greenville Health System to put his healthy meals in the hands of GHS employees.
Around the time Sturm bought his van, the food truck scene was taking off in Greenville. Curbside vendors were cooking up mouth-watering hamburgers and delicious tacos for residents on the run. Sturm wanted to be a part of it. But he wanted to be different.
Sturm spent three months renovating the inside of the van, adding freezers and a wash station. After being certified, he opened Adam’s Mobile Market, a food truck to provide Greenville with fast, accessible health food.
The concept grew from a decorated culinary career.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, Sturm watched his older brother bounce around from restaurant to restaurant as a chef. He knew it was the career for him.
“He was taking it to the art level, not just the food level. Just being able to take raw ingredients and make something . . . that concept was eye-opening,” Sturm said.
After high school, Sturm moved from town to town and cooked at local restaurants. But then he decided to enroll in Johnson and Wales in Charlotte, graduating with a degree in food and beverage management in 2007.
Sturm then moved to Greenville and became sous chef for La Bastide, which later closed in 2009. He then became the executive chef for The Cliffs at Lake Keowee until 2013. That’s when Sturm needed a change.
“I had a baby on the way and just needed more time at home. I was also in the position where I could go a different route in the food industry. So I decided to get into retail,” Sturm said.
Sturm worked at the New York Butcher Shoppe on Augusta Road for income during his transition. It was the gig that led to his food truck concept.
“I had always made food for people. So seeing customers willing to take the products home and cook meals was so cool,” said Sturm. “That’s what I wanted to do.”
From farm to table
Sturm had no problem getting products when he opened his food truck concept. His visited Broken Oak Organics, a Greenville farm he had volunteered at for years.
“It was about getting my hands in the dirt to learn the local food scene. That’s where I started to build lasting relationships with local farmers. I put the time in,” Sturm said.
His selection only grew. Sturm began selling produce from Tyger River Smart Farms, Red Tree Produce and 3 Oaks Farms. He then expanded and sold honey from Bee Well Honey Company and mill products from Asheville’s Bear Branch Milling.
But Sturm needed a place to sell. He got permission to park outside Upcountry Provisions in Travelers Rest and Quest Brewery in Greenville.
“It was intimidating at first. But the end goal was more important. I wanted to show people that you can eat seasonally and local and do it in a convenient way,” Sturm said.
While business continued to grow, Sturm wanted more. He wanted the van to become a healthy alternative to fast food. That’s when he visited Greenbrier Farms for meats and started to rent certified kitchen space at Naked Pasta in West Greenville.
From there, Sturm prepared meals that residents could take home and enjoy after a long day at work. He branded them “take and bakes.” He was competing against Burger King, McDonalds and the other countless fast-food chains and trucks throughout Greenville.
“Adam’s the only person selling high-quality foods from a truck. He’s breaking the notion that pre-made meals can’t be good or healthy. It’s a game-changer,” said Nick Thomas, owner of Automatic Taco.
Sturm prepared meals on a weekly basis and posted a menu on his Facebook page. It became a hit, providing Sturm a steady income and local farms increased exposure.
“Adam is bringing my product to the people. So it’s connecting the farm to the families,” said Roddy Pick, co-owner of Greenbrier Farms. “It also gets our name out there.”
Growing more than food
After two years of business, Sturm began to feel the pressures of increased demand. He left Naked Pasta and began preparing meals in a certified kitchen at Greenbrier Farms, which gave him more space to prepare. But things weren’t slowing down.
Brianne Hughes, a wellness specialist with Greenville Health System, reached out to Sturm in January. She wanted the food truck on the hospital menu.
“Our main goal is to bring healthier choices to our employees and to the community,” said Hughes. “The local and convenient options from his market were a no-brainer.”
In March, Sturm began parking at Greenville Memorial Hospital twice a week, providing doctors, nurses and patients a healthy meal. But it wasn’t long before he needed help.
Sturm was running out of hands in the kitchen because of the high demand. So he reached out to chef Angela Pope from Larkin’s on the River and Frank Ingle, a former sous chef at Restaurant 17.
“Greenville has so much access to good food. But some people just don’t take advantage of it. So I just love that he’s increasing public awareness,” Ingle said.
Sturm’s setup at the hospital was a success. That’s when he identified more opportunities to not only increase business but to make his food more accessible.
He brainstormed and pitched an idea to Hughes. Soon after, Adam’s Mobile Market was added to the Greenville Health System’s online marketplace for employees.
“I wanted to add more value to our partnership,” said Sturm. “I deliver seasonal bags directly to their workspace. It’s just a neat way to have interactions with the employees.”
The bags include meats, eggs, four seasonal vegetables and a grain product. It also includes honey or granola. Bags are available to employees at Greenville Memorial Hospital, Greer Memorial Hospital, Patewood Memorial Hospital and Hillcrest Memorial Hospital. Deliveries are made twice a week.
Sturm hopes to branch out in the future. He’s already added Reedy River Farms and Day Spring Farms to his inventory. But he also wants to serve more people.
“I want to control the growth this time. But that doesn’t mean I want to stop. I’m hoping to get the truck to schools and maybe more hospitals,” said Sturm. “I want to educate people about the healthy food we have in Greenville.”
Adam’s Mobile Market can be found at Upstate Provisions on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Quest Brewery on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The market can also be found at Greer Memorial Hospital on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
For more information: adamsmobilemarket.com