Work Hard, Ski Hard: Essex Prescott, the Entrepreneur

Prescott's floating food truck on Lake Coeur d’Alene pays for deep turns all winter

Marquee Image: Prescott lays down a turn, courtesy of a summer’s worth of hard work. PHOTO: Maurizio Von Flotow

This is the latest installment of Work Hard, Ski Hard, an interview series featuring skiers who tirelessly work all summer so they can take the entire winter off and ski every day. Read the first interview with smokejumper Sam Cox here.

This summer, Essex Prescott, a 22-year-old Idahoan, and business partners Gared and Corey Schneider, created what the trio terms a floating food truck. The Buoy is a houseboat anchored at any number of locations on Lake Coeur d’Alene in North Idaho, and features a full-scale kitchen. Prescott serves up tasty food to hungry boaters to fund his winter and guarantee as many days as possible on the snow.

Prescott is no stranger to entrepreneurship. He started Hayden Wake, a wakeboard instruction company, at the age of 13, with the same two business partners—both of which are snowboarders that Prescott grew up riding with at Schweitzer. They still own and operate the now-expanded business in addition to The Buoy.

When the seasons change, Prescott lives in Whistler and turns his focus to the snow. A few years ago he started filming with a crew of friends that included Eliel Hindert and Nick McNutt, and has since turned heads with his web edits. His travel resume includes trips to Alaska and New Zealand, but he enjoys spending time back in Whistler just as much. Thanks to his diligence in the summer, Prescott keeps his truck and snowmobile running well, which is all he needs. Because that means he can go skiing.

How’s the summer going? How’s business?
It’s been super good. We weren’t expecting it to take off this quickly. The first couple weeks, people were a little bit skeptical. Just as soon as the food got out there, people realized it was really good, quality food. It kind of exploded and we’ve been super busy the past couple weeks.

I’ve never heard of a floating food truck. When did you guys come up with such a unique idea?
We got the idea last August. We’ve been working on a lake forever. We’ve been doing the wakeboard lessons and we just thought there was a huge market there. We have a fair amount of boating experience but not a lot of restaurant experience, which is a little bit nerve-racking, but we figure that out as we go.

Grilled chicken sandwiches, tacos, and more, all right on the lake. PHOTO: Essex Prescott
Grilled chicken sandwiches and more, all right on the lake. PHOTO: Courtesy of Essex Prescott

It sounds like you are a busy man. Do you ever have a day off?
It’s funny you say that. Yeah, luckily because there’s three of us. We don’t run Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Usually we’re slammed—like I’m sitting out here working on our generator right now trying to make sure it runs smooth. Theoretically, there’s kind of days off, but we always end up doing shit otherwise. But at the same time, as soon as September comes, I’m free as a bird, which is pretty rad.

So did you grow up skiing in that area too?
I grew up here in North Idaho and we rode Schweitzer Mountain. It’s a really rad spot. There’s not too many people and it’s not too blown up, which is really sick. Until I was 12, well maybe 10 or 11, we skied at Silver Mountain, which is just another one in the area. I ski raced there and then I raced at Schweitzer until I was 17.

Prescott cashes in on a summer of running the businesses. PHOTO: Courtesy of Essex Prescott
Prescott cashes in on a summer of running the businesses. PHOTO: Courtesy of Essex Prescott

But you’ve moved north of the border now?
I knew I wanted to get up to Whistler, and that’s why I went to UBC [University of British Columbia, in Vancouver]. I had skied there a little bit. In my senior year of high school I came up, and we got one day of sledding in. It just absolutely blew my mind.

My first two years I took classes during the wintertime, but I was on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule. I slept in my car so much in Whistler. I was like, “Damn, I can’t go to school in the winter anymore.” I just started moving up through the whole winter, and this past season was my second year up there full-time.

What are you studying at UBC?
Commerce. I’ve learned a ton in school. There was this one entrepreneurship class I took that just set everything up so well. I actually did The Buoy as a project in school last fall.

Do you think you’re making enough money this summer? What do you plan to do with that cash when winter rolls around?
It’s looking pretty good, and I’m going to be able to do what I want to do and go where I want to go. I really want to get to Alaska again—it just panned out and worked out really well this past year. We’ll see how it goes this year. In my opinion, there’s no place I’d rather be than Whistler, when Whistler’s good. So I’m hoping we can have a sick season and I can sled right out my front door every day.