I promise, I won’t quack too many duck jokes.

If you live in Kosciusko County or the surrounding area, chances are you’ve heard of Maple Leaf Farms, a leader in the duck industry, but what you may not know is that they have a full-time employee on the road promoting the company and its duck products via a mobile kitchen that rivals many of those in restaurants.

Luckily for me, I’m acquainted with the employee, so when I reached out to Beth Murphy to see if she would be interested in an interview via email, she happily obliged.

Q: What was your background before you joined Maple Leaf?

A: I spent 16 years in my first career, which was accounting. Ten years ago I had a “life’s too short to work for a paycheck” moment and was encouraged to pursue my passion. At that time I enrolled in culinary school and have held a variety of jobs in the industry including work at a country club, independently owned gastropub, teaching at a culinary school and cooking for private clients. I joined Maple Leaf Farms a year ago this June when the DuckMobile was launched.

Q: What exactly is the DuckMobile and what purpose does it serve?

A: The DuckMobile is a fully self-sufficient mobile kitchen trailer fabricated to help consumers discover Maple Leaf Farms duck by creating a multi-sensory brand experience. Utilizing the footprint and resources of the trailer, we are able to improve our visual and interactive presence at events and expand our abilities to travel and tailor tastes in new markets.

Our mission is to educate consumers about Maple Leaf Farms and influence buying decisions towards duck. Our target audience is millennials with a goal of creating a brand that is approachable and demonstrating techniques for using the products at home. Maple Leaf Farms has a great story to tell about our company history and our products, and we’re excited to use the DuckMobile to share this story to new audiences not previously made possible via traditional marketing channels.

The DuckMobile at the recent Fat and Skinny Tire Fest in Winona Lake
The DuckMobile at the recent Fat and Skinny Tire Fest in Winona Lake. Flavor 574 photo/Tom Westerhof

Q: What about the DuckMobile led you to decide to work with it?

A: Everything! It was an opportunity to be in on the ground floor of a new venture for the company. I am working in a beautiful 24-foot mobile kitchen, creating my own recipes for duck, and traveling and meeting new people. It is exciting to be able to share duck with people who many times have never experienced it. Another benefit is that my family is in the area, so I’m able to spend more time with them.

Q: What are the benefits of cooking with duck at home?

A: Duck is a great alternative to beef and pork. Although duck is considered poultry it has flavor attributes that are similar to red meat but with less fat and calories. In fact, a skinless duck breast has less calories and fat than a skinless chicken breast. Also, duck fat has similar health benefits to olive oil.

Many people feel intimidated to prepare duck at home or only think of it as something for a special occasion. Duck breast can be prepared easily at home with a few simple techniques. Additionally, we have other products including duck bacon, ground duck, duck sausage and fully cooked products that are “heat and serve” to fit any home cook’s culinary skills. These items can be found at local retailers and at our store in Leesburg, Duck, Down and Above.

Duck bacon is one of the many free samples available from the DuckMobile. Flavor 574 photo/Tom Westerhof
Duck bacon is one of the many free samples available from the DuckMobile.
Photo supplied by Jason Hemsoth, Maple Leaf Farms

Q: How far do you travel with it? Any favorite destinations?

A: The furthest we’ve traveled so far was Orlando, Fla.. We were also in Nashville, Tenn., this spring and will be travelling throughout the Midwest this summer. Our appearances in the next couple of months include stops in Columbus, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Mich., Indianapolis, Milwaukee and a variety of Chicago suburbs.

I can’t say that I’ve had a favorite destination. Each event has its own personality and provides a different experience. I enjoy the variety.

Q: Of all the dishes you’ve prepared for the DuckMobile, do you have a favorite or two?

A: We’ve prepared a variety of dishes for the DuckMobile. I would have to say that my favorite is using duck in ways that most people don’t expect. I make duck meatballs and duck burgers using our ground duck meat. I enjoy seeing consumer reactions to these products because it is not a format that they expect for duck. I also enjoy anything I make from our duck bacon, because who doesn’t like bacon!

Q: Why should people come out and see the DuckMobile?

A: It is a chance to try duck if you’ve never had it or maybe sample it in a different way than you’ve had in the past. Stopping by the DuckMobile gives you an opportunity to talk with Maple Leaf Farms employees about our company and practices, our products, and learn cooking techniques and recipes. In addition to free food, we also host a variety of giveaways and promotions.

Q: How do we track where the DuckMobile will be next?

A: You can find us on social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Follow us to see when the DuckMobile will be at an event near you!

For more food, drink and good times in Kosciusko County from Tom Westerhof, subscribe to the Bites and Bitters email newsletter.

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