EMW Fusion is a seasonal food cart in Bend that serves inventive pandos with locally sourced ingredients.
It started with a wedding invitation and turned into EMW Fusion. Sun Valley native Brandon Walsh was marrying Seoul native Yoonmee Chang (now Chang Walsh). Both designers, they wanted a creative theme for their wedding and East Meets West seemed appropriate. The pair of creatives took that theme with them into their married life, hosting big fusion-style barbecues (that got bigger each time) and creating mashup designs.
“Mashup is compelling, it’s fun, nothing too serious,” said Walsh, describing their designs of cowboy shirts with Hawaiian fabric contrast and prints of Japanese anime superimposed over Western scenes. “Our philosophy: Never be too serious.”
The couple also rewrote traditional Korean street food recipes with American twists and experimented. A lot. They planned to retire early from their corporate product and graphic design jobs in Portland, turning their passion for cooking into an exit strategy. A food truck in Bend fit the bill.
“Yoonmee grows a huge garden and we’ve made farmers’ market shopping our habit for years,” said Walsh. “We like to know where our food comes from. Especially with protein-based products, the animal must have been raised humanely, not just sustainably and organically. We knew if we got into any food business, that was the plan.”
Still, it took almost a year after they moved to Bend in 2015 to get the food truck ready and transition their foodie lifestyle into a business. They had to figure out how robust a menu their mobile space could handle and find producers in their newly adopted town who could supply EMW Fusion’s needs.
The winning combination? A pando, the organic love child of a Korean wheat-based pancake and a sando (Japanese for sandwich), sold from their truck for $3-4 a pop. Talk about a low barrier to entry for locally sourced food.
“We want to source all our protein and vegetables from Central Oregon and we’re about eighty percent of the way there,” said Walsh.
Even with all their planning, the young business learned one lesson the hard way: winter and EMW don’t mesh. Business was “slowwwww” and it was tough to maintain their commitment to local ingredients.
Before the truck closes for the season at the end of October, catch EMW slinging pandos at one of many locations around Bend (check emwfusion.com for the most up-to-date info). One of their stops is the up-and-coming 9th Street Village. “As makers and east side Bend residents, we are excited to see a cool, non-chain maker destination on the east side,” said Walsh.
To really get to the source, make a trip to the EMW’s beef and pork supplier, DD Ranch in Terrebonne, where the truck will be posted up during weekends in October to feed hungry pumpkin patch pickers.