Matt Chandra is a CEO with a succinct business plan.
For the past 15 years, Chandra’s Denver-based food business, Tocabe, has worked to remove the barriers and challenges that make Native American foods inaccessible to many.
“We’re dedicated to revitalizing Indigenous culture through the power of food,” Chandra told The Food Institute. “We believe that food is more than just sustenance – it’s a powerful way to connect with our heritage, our community, and each other.”
Late last year, Tocabe Harvest Meals were unveiled as direct-to-consumer, nutritious, ready-made dishes featuring ingredients sourced from Native farmers and producers. Tocabe soon established a rather devoted customer base throughout America, offering dishes like Bison Sonoran Bowls, Green Chili Stew, and Vegan Posu Bowls with Red Lake Nation wild rice.
A brand that was originally founded as Tocabe, An American Indian Eatery (still a bustling, well-reviewed restaurant), now thrives via the online marketplace. Yet, its founders make one thing quite clear: the Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace is not a subscription meal service. Rather, it’s an Indigenous marketplace.
“One of the challenges of offering great meals via direct-to-consumer is getting caught up in the hype, fads, and trends that the media is pushing rather than focusing on what you do best,” Chandra said.
“We realized early on that we were in a unique position with our meals. Native and Indigenous foods are inherently nutrient-dense and wholesome foods. We also practice intentional and direct sourcing in our supply chain.”
Tocabe partners with ranchers who manage Native lands and who are dedicated to the conservation of bison, for example, allowing herds to roam freely and graze among grasses.
“As the end point in our Native supply chain, it’s vital that we support the development and economic stability of our partners as an essential resource for their growth,” said Tocabe co-founder Ben Jacobs, a member of the Osage Nation.