That might be the mantra of chef Taylor Knapp, who has launched Peconic Escargot, a "spanking new farm and start-up company" in Cutchogue.
Sick of escargot frozen or in a can from France, Knapp set out to become a snail farmer and produce his own.
"Our end goal is to provide the country with the freshest tastiest escargot available," Knapp said.
To that end, Knapp, the chef at First and South in Greenport, teamed up with North Fork real estate guru and entrepreneur Sean Nethercott and launched a Kickstarter site to help them realize their dream.
Their vision? "A locally focused, community driven project that could change the way the world eats and experiences escargot," the site explains.As of Wednesday, the pair had raised $2646 of their $35,000 goal.
"The motivation for this project really came from a gap in the market," Knapp said. "I'm very picky when it comes to choosing ingredients for my menu at First and South. I wanted to put escargot on the menu but couldn't find a single product that wasn't frozen or in a can. Really, absolutely nothing."
Knapp said after embarking upon some research, he realized that no one was raising fresh snails on the East Coast.
"So we began to plan, to see if it was a viable business. Turned out, it is. People really like escargot and really want to see something new and fresh in their kitchen. The rest is history. We're both very excited to get this thing moving and to provide chefs and home cooks with the freshest tastiest escargot available," Knapp said.
Knapp, originally from Greenwood, Indiana, moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 2006 for school and to Jamesport in 2010 to work with Chef Keith Luce at Luce & Hawkins.
Nethercott is originally from Riverhead and has a penchant for the North Fork, Knapp said.
The two young businessmen are raising funds to build an energy efficient, sustainable greenhouse operation in Cutchogue. They have worked with the Peconic Land Trust and the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure that the project is viable, Knapp said, both for the North Fork and for restaurants and home cooking.
While most snail farms are sited in France, Italy and Asia, according to the Kickstarter site, they have one thing in common: "They rely on a centuries' old technique of raising the snails in outdoor, open air pens. This approach is outdated, unrealistic, and potentially dangerous," the site explains.
"Being out in the open, the snails are subject to parasites and fungi that can attack and spread rapidly in a crowded pen. The same snails that are raised for food are agricultural pests that can cause considerable crop damage. In addition, the open pens allow for possible predators including mice, birds, and even other insects. Not to mention the potential for Mother Nature to wreak havoc on a completely exposed snail population."
As an alternative, Knapp said the goal is to raise the snails indoors to provide a more safe and consistent environment, in a greenhouse.
Plans, Knapp said, are for a completely enclosed 18 X 36 foot greenhouse with fans for fresh air, humidifiers, heaters, and air conditioners — with lots of sunlight.
The snails, he said, won't be able to interfere with nearby farmland and will also be protected.
The snails, Knapp said, will be fed a healthy diet of locally foraged greens and herbs, all organic.
Next, the snails will be packaged in vacuum-sealed bags to preserve flavor and texture, allowing them to be shipped worldwide, overnight — or hand-delivered to local residents.
"Our escargot will never be canned or frozen. Ever," Knapp said.
Funds will be raised for 1000 snails to begin breeding, a greenhouse and supplies, soil, instruments to measure the greenhouse environment, shelving, work tables, the cost of leveling and concrete, a machine to vacuum seal the escargot, and a land lease.
For more information on the Kickstarter campaign, click here.