"Made in Montana" isn't something we say frivolously when talking about our brand. The certification is quite difficult to achieve, requiring businesses to actually manufacture their product within Montana state lines.
A PO box in Montana allows any company to claim the phrase, all the while outsourcing production to somewhere else like Florida where they never see, touch or taste the food nor employ Montanan's or even use Montana grown ingredients. It's a loop hole in the food system, legal, but dishonest on behalf of the brand. That's why an official stamp on our website matters to us and should matter to you. Our reasons for seeking this stamp of approval have deep roots valuing food quality, community, and a sense of place. For a quick download on how Gnome owner, Shannon, formed those values and how they ultimately led to Gastro Gnome's 'Made in Montana' certification, read on!
I spent my formative Chef years in New York and San Francisco, landing in kitchens that demanded nearly around the clock crews to produce their applauded dishes and wow guests. Conjure up the most cliche story of a Chef working 18+ hours a day, sacrificing their health, relationships, and sanity for time behind a stove- and there I was. Largely unaware of the vast outdoors, climbing the ladder of chef-dom with fervor was the only focus for years. Flavors and ingredients hailing from other countries pulled me to kitchens around the globe to learn unfamiliar techniques. There was no end to this path in sight.
This tunnel vision was shaken loose after being hired to open Mountains Walking in Bozeman. After the launch, I remained in Bozeman but out of restaurant kitchens. Teaching at Montana State University provided a format of working with food that offered something I hadn't enjoyed in years- a weekend. These weekends were the tools I used to explore the wildest corners of Montana.
Reluctant to eat backpacking meals given their propensity to be loaded with fillers, stabilizers and miraculous tasteless-ness, I was finally forced into consumption on a packrafting trip of real length. Not only did I fall forever in love with the sound of a river tumbling over rocks, but at my core I knew changing what was possible for backpacking food was my calling. Paddling towards the takeout, the future felt entirely altered.
Flavor is where every meal starts and ends. Living with this mindset led to the tough discovery that approaching food this way didn't apply to manufacturing. While co-packing is far easier and less expensive, I’d have to abandon everything I know to be good, satisfying and nourishing about food to go that route. Additionally, I’d have to outsource jobs away from Bozeman and never establish a physical home for the Gnome. To provide amazing backcountry meals, Gastro Gnome would take on a remarkable uphill battle to use locally sourced, fresh ingredients in our own facility. Luckily, this path deviated so far from the norm, we set ourselves apart for good.
Now, I write to you from Gastro Gnome’s headquarters, a production facility we built to honor our values as a food brand. We create meals the only way I know how; thoughtfully, with precision, care, and flavor leading the charge. Fresh ingredients are brought into our kitchen where we cook every dang thing from scratch, and pack each meal here under one roof with just our team. And of course, we only source from a Montana food purveyor. Even our shipping boxes are made here, literally down the street. Sure, it’s a lot more work to pursue food manufacturing from a local-first, flavor-first mindset. But because of this, we were able to achieve a certification that lets our consumers know how committed we are to the well-being of Montana.
We are Made in Montana and so thrilled to be fueling our community’s adventures with the power of community right behind it. We've loved the journey so far- and as we like to say, buckle in! We're just getting started.
All the best-