Chris Carson and Dylan Wacksman are the founders of Shoots Bakery & Bowls, a student-run Hawaiian-based food business. The two University of Miami juniors first met during their freshman year through Instagram, quickly became friends, roommates, and eventually, business partners.
Dylan Wacksman, who hails from Honolulu, Hawaii, found himself missing the food from home when he moved to Miami for college. Especially poke—a traditional Hawaiian staple typically made of rice and raw fish. But, according to Wacksman, the popular Americanized poke bowl is inauthentic. He referred to it as “Subway make-your-own-poke” style.
Traditional poke flavors are to stand alone, without toppings. In order to beat his poke craving, he and his roommate, Chris Carson, decided to bring authentic Hawaiian poke to Miami with their own business—Shoots. Wacksman thinks of it as his way of “bringing the food to the people.”
Yet, Wacksman wanted to do more than just share his food—he also wanted to educate others on the rich culture and history of his home state. When Hawaii was populated by sugar plantations in the 1800s, labor was outsourced. This influx of people brought diverse cultures and food with it.
As for Carson, he was inspired by the idea of bringing joy to others through food. He has some advice for those who may want to start their own business or go after an entrepreneurial dream. “There is likely someone else on campus that has the same goals as you. Just go for it,” he said. “Have fun and don’t overthink it.”
Wacksman said he believes food is indicative of people. In Hawaii, people are welcoming and family-oriented, with no “set way” of living. Although he is from Hawaii, Wacksman is not a native Hawaiian. This is an important distinction, he said, in the cultural understanding of Hawaii. Predominately comprised of Asian, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians, it is culturally diverse in a way that is unlike the rest of the United States.
Wacksman and Carson started Shoots in January 2021, and in the few months that followed, have seen encouraging success. They usually sell out of food within 24 hours of posting an order link. They’re aiming to land a stall in University of Miami’s weekly farmers market next fall. To be in the market, they said, represents offering quality food at affordable prices. They also hope to become more inclusive, with plans to accommodate those with dietary restrictions.
If you’re looking for a first-timer’s recommendation, both Wacksman and Carson agreed that the Spicy Ahi Poke Bowl is their go-to. To look at their menu or place an order for on-campus pickup, follow @shootsbb on Instagram.
words_asia chester. photo_ jayden degrace. design_marielle zuber.
This article was published in Distraction’s summer 2021 print issue.