How the show began
Chances are that if you like avocados, you know about The Avocado Show, an all-avocado restaurant in Amsterdam, serving the best avocado dishes in the world. In collaboration with Kosmos Uitgevers, Fooddeco, and MENDO, The Avocado Show is now releasing a book, appropriately named: “The Avocado Show. MENDO had a lunch date with founder Ron Simpson, co-founder of The Avocado Show.
‘We always ask ourselves: ‘how do we avocado it?’
‘We always ask ourselves: ‘how do we avocado it?’
At the end of 2016, the world was shocked by the news of two friends opening an avocado restaurant together. Well, maybe it wasn’t shocking nor breaking, but it certainly was news. The story of Julien Zaal and Ron Simpson spread contagiously around the world. A new hype was born, all revolving around two friends and a fruit.
Fast forward to almost two years later, The Avocado Show went from being a restaurant to a brand and soon to be worldwide franchise. It has over 150.000 followers on Facebook and Instagram combined, and people waiting in line in front of its doors every day. All because of that one ingredient?
The Avocado Show’s co-founder Ron Simpson explains: “The most successful concepts are those of which you can immediately recognize what it is. But instead of revolving a concept around one product, we chose to create a concept out of an ingredient. You know what it tastes like, but you never know what you’re going to get. So when we found out what that key ingredient was going to be, we had enough inspiration to create an entire concept around it.”
That concept has been thought through extremely well. Through Ron and Julien’s nifty marketing and creative ways of creating a buzz, The Avocado Show immediately became a worldwide success. Even before they had a venue. “There were people from Mexico who were standing in front of our door while we were still building the place. Insane.”
It’s not that Ron and Julien were heroes in the kitchen. The two friends were mostly active in the Amsterdam nightlife as hosts & DJ’s in the dark hours and as marketeers during the day. “Julien and I were friends, and we were always plotting on doing something together. At a certain moment we knew it was going to be something with food. So we made a list of five things we loved. Apparently we both loved avocado, and when we looked a little further into it, we saw an entire new world opening in front of us.”
Apparently, that world was there all along. With avocado being one of the most consumed goods in Latin America, it somehow moved under the radar in the rest of the world. “Avocado is such a popular product. At a certain point we were asking ourselves why this didn’t exist yet. It was as if we found coffee, and thought: ‘let’s open a coffeehouse.’ The avocado is the most nutritious fruit there is, and you can eat it warm or cold, sweet or savory. When we typed in #avocado on IG, it had nine million hits. Pinterest was filled with images of avocado recipes. And people actually buy all kinds of stuff with avocados printed on it. We simply had to do it.”
The two had found their hit, and immediately started “the show”. As Ron recalls; “We had the idea during a drink on Thursday, Julien came up with the name on Friday, on Sunday, we were partying until way too late, and on Monday, Julien gave me a wake up call, telling me he already found a place. I went straight to my office, instantly made the logo as it is now. And a day later we got the keys to our new restaurant.”
The fact that The Avocado Show became an instant hit couldn’t be predicted, but it’s evident as we arrive at the restaurant in the heart of de Pijp in Amsterdam. As we, somewhat shamefully, walk past a line of approximately ten people waiting at the door, the place is filled with people enjoying a “Salvocado” (Avocado Poke Bowl), a “Sinner Stack” of avocado pancakes, or “The Mango Curry Tango” toast. Most of the names come from the mind of Ron, who seems to know exactly when to strike.
As we sit down, Ron orders a variety of dishes from the menu while enjoying a white tea. When the food arrives, it becomes clear why they call it “pretty healthy food”. Everything is served in a beautiful way, just like you would see in the cookbook. Ron: “Even I still want to Instagram it.”
Next to the dishes, everything around the table looks equally perfect. It’s almost as if everything was set up for our arrival. The people at the table next to us recognize Ron from a presentation he held a few weeks ago. It made them travel to the other side of the country to experience the Show themselves. At the end of our (delicious!) meal, the waitress attends him to two Portuguese businessmen with whom Ron has an appointment about a possible franchise in Lisboa. For Ron, it seems to be another day at the office.
However popular Ron and his Avocado Show may be, it didn’t just drop out of the sky. “Well, actually it kind of did. We didn’t even intend to do this full time, at first. But when we noticed everything went crazy, we just had to react to it quickly. We did everything we could to use the buzz we had, but I believe no one could actually create something like this, besides Kanye maybe. We never bought any advertisements, but the news somehow reached the foodies and journalists who wanted to talk about it. There was a video on Facebook that had over fifty million plays, and media from all over the world were reporting about us. Shit went viral. Up to the point where everything was leading its own life. We were like, ‘okay, how are we going to maintain this?’”
Come to think of it, The Avocado Show opened its doors only four months after the first news came out. “That period was crazy. We managed to spread out the news over the course of those months, and at the same time we already had requests and emails of companies that made avocado merchandise, avocado oil, avocado farmers, and people who were interested in the concept. We didn’t even have furniture yet.”
‘Even I still Instagram it.’’
‘Even I still Instagram it.’’
During that same period, Ron and Julien got in touch with Nature’s Pride. One of the world’s leading fruit and vegetable distributors, and investors behind The Avocado Show. “They had the knowledge and resources for the product, and we knew how to make it look cool. A perfect match.”
Nature’s Pride gave Ron and Julien the opportunity to have an inside look into the industry, which resulted in a documentary film which will soon release. “We use about 2500 avocados every week, here alone. After a while, we received a lot of questions about our sustainability and environmental impact. So we traveled around the world to see how our avocados are being made, and where they come from. It’s great for us to have this story, and the people I’ve met were so inspiring. It really gave me even more energy to continue with this product.”
During the opening week, people could sign up to test and eat at the Avocado Show for free. 22.000 people signed up to get a taste, and people were sleeping in front of the door the night before opening. While things aren’t as hectic as around its opening, people are still waiting in line almost every day to get a taste of the avocado bun Wagyu burgers (Ron’s favorite) with a Guaca Mary to top it off. “We just look around at what’s popular and then we ask ourselves: ‘how do we avocado it?’ Then we start experimenting and we find out what works. Although I have to say that we’ve also made some stuff no one should ever be allowed to try again.”
Some of the successful experiments have ended up in the book. A completely pink cookbook, containing 42 recipes made with avocado or guacamole. “We noticed that people like merchandise. Especially cookbooks. But we’re The Avocado Show. That show element is important to us. The avocado cookbooks that existed, did not meet our expectations in terms of looks, so we connected with MENDO and Kosmos to create something that resembles our philosophy. And I think it looks amazing. Some of it is not suitable for a restaurant, but are much more fun to make at home.”
“It seemed logical to link up with MENDO for us. Gunifort is one of my best friends, and I’ve been coming to MENDO for years. Luckily, we had the chance to work with the biggest cookbook publisher of the Netherlands, Kosmos, and asked our favorite fooddeveloper Colette to come up with some star dishes.”
Those star dishes include a new take on fast food, bowls, toasts, eggs, and salads. All beautifully presented with avocado. The recipes are developed in collaboration with food blogger Colette Dike from Fooddeco. “Some of it is not suitable for our restaurant, because they would take too long or are too expensive. But I think everything is doable at home. You’ll notice how much fun it is to experiment with avocado.”
Our stomachs are already filled, as Ron orders an “Avo Oreo Cheesecake”, which is still in its test phase. “We’re still looking at how to present this, so let me know what you think.”
Let’s say it definitely past our test.
The Avocado Show
Pretty Healthy Food by Fooddeco
Initiated and designed by MENDO, this cookbook offers the most healthy and best- looking avocado recipes. On top of that you have a chance to win one of the 20 free highly Instagrammable lunches. Pre-order at MENDO, then visit theavocadoshow.nl for more details.
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2.30 - 3.30 PM
Saturday 12 January 2019: book signing session with Daniel Arsham. 2.30 - 3.30 PM at MENDO, Berenstraat 11 Amsterdam.