Guy Greenblat is a whirlwind of energy. A seemingly laid-back person by appearance, it’s when he speaks that you can see the intensity, and focus that has brought his company Outcast foods to the attention of shop keepers around the country.
His mind is abuzz with ideas, and stories, and sitting down with him the conversation effortlessly moves from his time living on an organic farm in France to trail running and his young family.
A relatively new father, it’s his desire to make the world a better, more moral place for his children, that lead him to found Outcast foods and being at the forefront of a health revolution in SA.
“I genuinely want to make an impact relating to things such as sustainability, cruelty to animals and the food that regular people are eating in our society. It makes me really angry knowing that the majority of people in SA are fueled by low-quality food. Why? Because it just happened, it wasn’t forced. We can do better,” he says, leaning forward in his chair in his office in Cape Town.
Outcast foods now produce simply packaged falafels, pancakes and hamburgers that are made from all-natural, vegan ingredients, with a focus on ensuring they remain tasty. Users simply pick up a box and add water, meaning they can cook activated, gluten-free meals as simply, and easily as they can pick up a take away.
“Outcast Foods is an expression of truly creative ideas with no rules. I never check out the competition till I am done and happy with the idea I have for a new product,” says Greenblat, his belief and enthusiasm clear. “There are many awesome alternatives these days but none of them come close to the nutritional value and quality of our products and we will never compromise on these values.”
The company arose from Greenblat’s own upbringing where he says he was raised by a mother who took on a raw, food, plant-based diet when he was growing up.
“My mom never insisted we had to adopt her eating patterns, but nonetheless we ended up exposed to it and it definitely influenced us. A lot of my cooking style developed in those early years when there weren’t 1000 food blogs on how to make tasty, healthy plant-based meals. My mom would experiment and get really creative and I learned that and naturally adopted that style of cooking,” he explains.
Making an Outcast product is, therefore, a process of experimentation and adjustment, with Greenblat himself leading the entire process from idea to package.
“I have used all I have learned over the years in multiple industries and countries It usually starts with inspiration in my personal cooking, in fact, our pancakes were inspired by the buckwheat crepes served in France, that we loved during our time there. From there I will take the plunge and set up the first trial. Often these go really well and I think, that’s it, I am almost done. Then it turns out that the last 5% takes as long as the first 95%. I am a bit of a perfectionist,” he laughs.
Founding Outcast has not come without challenges, for example, one week before the birth of his second child Greenblat was made redundant.
“This ended up being a blessing but was really challenging as the business took a leap at exactly that time. I ended up burning the retrenchment package to buy more equipment and by the time I had run out of cash, we had a 3-month-old and 2.5 bedroom flat that looked like a mini-factory. It was ridiculous,” he says.
Fortunately, his team has rallied around him, and now he is extremely aware of just how much he owes to his small staff.
“It is 100% true that companies are only as good as there people and we have great people,” he says.
With the products now finding their way into mainstream stores however, Outcast is poised on the edge of massive success. The late nights, and 7 day a week working lifestyle is starting to pay off.
“Things are improving,” says Greenblat. “Maybe I will even get some time to myself soon?”