Urban Farm Chef: RoliRoti

This urban chef makes farm-fresh food for people on the go.

by Lisa Munniksma

Courtesy Thomas Odermatt

Chef RoliRoti learned to cook from his father who was a Swiss master butcher.

When you think of grabbing fast food from a “roach coach” along a city sidewalk, you probably don’t expect organic and locally sourced foods. For those people who want to satisfy their grumbling stomachs as well as their local-food sensibilities, though, chef and “rotisseur” Thomas Odermatt offers his RoliRoti mobile rotisserie.

Serving only sustainably farmed meats and in-season, local produce, RoliRoti has been feeding farmers’ market goers and catering parties in the San Francisco area since 2002. By serving the farmers’ market audience, Odermatt is already positioned in front of people who appreciate his business’s values and are seeking out “simple comfort foods.”

Odermatt grew up in the Swiss Alps and learned farming and cooking from his father, Otto, a Swiss metzgermeister (master butcher), and his mother, Maria, whose spice rub he still uses for seasoning RoliRoti’s grilled chicken.

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“My father had a farm that we silently operated [non-certified] organically. I went into the study of farming. … I can walk into a field at a farm, and when [farmers] talk about the soil structure, about the problems they have, I can relate and sometimes even give advice,” Odermatt says. “That has brought me where I am now and why I believe we should consume local, sustainable and, if possible, organic ingredients.”

Throughout the summer, as much as 95 percent of the ingredients offered by RoliRoti are organic. During the winter months, don’t expect to find tomatoes or cucumbers on the menu, because they’re not grown locally that time of year.

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