September 3, 2019

The books that inspired dark-kitchen founder Anton Soulier

Goosebumps, Shoe Dog and Setting the Table: here are the books that have inspired Taster founder Anton Soulier

Chris Sisserian

4 min read

Anton Soulier, an early employee at food delivery startup Deliveroo, is the chief executive and founder of delivery-only restaurant Taster. Currently comprised of the Asian-themed sub-brands Out Fry (Korean fried chicken), O Ke Kai (poke & sushi) and Mission Saigon (Vietnamese) which are available in London, Paris and Madrid. Taster recently raised $8m in Series A funding to launch three additional brands by the end of the year.

Often referred to as dark kitchens, delivery-only kitchens are a rapidly growing component of the food delivery sector. Designed specifically for food delivery and often placed in close proximity to their end markets, dark kitchens allow for faster delivery times and lower overheads without the associated cost of running a front of house. Read more about food delivery kitchens here.

Your background is in finance and food delivery, is there a book you wish you’d read before starting a business?

“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight.

This book tells the story of a student passionate about running that goes around the world with only a few dollars in his pocket and comes back from Japan with the crazy idea of launching a running shoe brand. It's an amazing, almost overwhelming story that describes a project driven by passion. 


The story is full of pitfalls where most would have given up because of problems, constraints and failures but Knight moved mountains and was driven by a flawless passion to create what Nike is today. Sometimes we forget that behind the biggest companies in the world there is just a determined person with a fixed idea. Knight is a source of energy and inspiration beyond measure to anyone who wants to start a business!

What was your favourite book as a child?

The “Goosebumps” series by R. L. Stine.

My second passion after food is horror movies which started very early, as a child I loved to scare myself by reading fantastically scary stories. I also enjoyed reading the “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” when I was eight.

Is there a book you frequently give as a gift?

“The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” by Brad Stone.

I love inspiring books where seasoned entrepreneurs achieve the seemingly impossible and the unlimited ambition of Jeff Bezos is an incredible source of inspiration which relativises the everyday problems of an entrepreneur. Beyond the great story of Amazon is a book that also shows the importance of hiring a team of players, as well as talent and leadership in general.

Our philosophies aren't rules; they're guidelines" — Patagonia CEO Yvon Chouinard
What about a specific concept you’ve applied from a business book?

“Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman” by Yvon Chouinard.

This book helped me a lot with Taster's values. One part that particularly struck me is: “Our philosophies aren't rules; they're guidelines. They're the keystone of our approach to any project, and although they are 'set in stone,' their applications to a situation isn't. In every long-lasting business, the methods of conducting business may constantly change, but the values, the culture and the philosophies remain constant.”

Yvon Chouinard
Yvon Chouinard, third from right, outside the Chouinard Equipment company — precursor to Patagonia
Is there a book you would recommend to others wanting to start food businesses?

I must confess that I did not read any books on food before launching Taster, preferring to surround myself with professionals! Afterwards I could only suggest "Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business" by the master Daniel Meyer.

If you were to write a book, what would it be about?

One of my dreams has always been to write a book of pan-Asian recipes with the chefs who collaborated with Taster. It would be a book with our recipes but also our values, our sources of inspiration, our artistic creations etc. Stay tuned!

Which book is most frequently recommended to you?

“How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know” by Byron Sharp.

A book that is generally recommended to me by non-marketer people! It’s about evidence-based marketing, building brands based on what works in scientific practice rather than what should work in theory and can be applied to most B2C businesses.

We are working in the best industry!
Enough about books, is there any other media that has had an impact on you?

"À pleines dents" is a mini-series available on Netflix with Gérard Depardieu on gastronomy and local producers that is a true hymn to the joy of life through the prism of food. 

It is also fascinating to see the thousands of producers who are passionate about their work and products that are hidden behind the food we consume. A great reminder that we are working in the best industry!

French actor / gourmand Gerard Depardieu
French actor / gourmand Gerard Depardieu