Look What's Hatched
Alon Salant and Rob Spiro, the founders of San Francisco company Good Eggs, call it a local food phenomenon: Food makers are going directly to farms to source their ingredients and consumers are accepting no less-fresh alternative.
And the makers are pioneering innovative sales models – Kickstarter fundraising, commercial kitchens, TaskRabbit, literally pedaling their wares via bike, random pick-up locations – to get their sought-after goods to consumers. Good Eggs saw this as a good idea, and configured the technology to make the details of transactions easier, so food makers can just focus on feeding us. Alon and Rob created a site that’s an online hub for local food.
Customers can buy directly from each food maker with a Good Eggs webpage (or web stand) via single-order, subscription, pick-up, or delivery options, and then pay online. The goal is for this online structure to spur real-life networks for suppliers and consumers – to develop and sustain local food systems. Locavorism isn’t a philosophy Good Eggs is trying to invent, but rather, a movement they strive to serve.
Good Eggs launches today, July 26, featuring makers in several SF hoods. Within a few weeks, most all neighborhoods will be included, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here are four of 30 local food makers already on board with Good Eggs.
Anna Derivi-Castellanos and Lenore Estrada met in the third grade while performing Charlie Brown theater; by high school they were baking together. The two babes of Three Babes Bakeshop grew up on taco trucks and culinary family traditions in the Central Valley. They rep their hometown pretty hard.
The Central Valley produces a delta-rich, yet tainted, harvest. Anna and Lenore’s dedication to staying totally organic is a result of witnessing the effects that pesticides caused to loved ones. They don’t say, “We use organic when possible.” It’s all-organic all the time. “It’s a values thing. We’ve made this commitment and we’re sticking to it,” Lenore says.
They decided last spring to try baking organic pies for the summer and moved into a Mission apartment in June 2011. They met their Kickstarter goal of $10K in one month and were selling pies out of a storage container at Stable Café days later. The first week, they sold out before the container doors even opened.
Originally there were three babes, but it’s down to two because, as Anna says, “The level of burnout was really intense in the beginning.” Schlepping a mobile pie business still isn’t easy. “My car is not meant for pie storage.”
During their heirloom custard series, they updated Lenore’s grandmother’s recipes, and the gluten-free lemon cream pie was a hit. Now, their salty honey walnut is so coveted they can’t ever take it off their weekly changing menu. The nuts are from their friend’s dad’s walnut farm back home. “Central Valley represent!”
Luisa Alberto and Derek Castro originally quenched our thirsts working for Blue Bottle Coffee, but then they set out to provide that same energy jolt with fresh produce. Enter pop-up juice bar, Sow. It’s been open barely over two months, but it’s already tough to find a vacant stool when Sow takes over Pause Wine Bar on weekends.
Derek started crafting juices at his house three years ago. He tested recipes by selecting fresh, organic produce, assembling the right proportions for taste, and then it was a “fun, thoughtful play with fruits, veggies, and herbs.”
The duo took note from Blue Bottle’s concise menu and created a regret-proof menu of three traditional juices – red, orange, green – with room for a seasonal rotating option. Right now, that’s The Prescription (apple, orange, celery, kale, parsley), a slightly sweeter take on the elegant green juice.
When I stopped into Sow, we grown-ups sat perched on stools quietly having our juice-time like school children. This isn’t a juice grab-n-go. It’s a juice sit-n-sip.
Eventually, Derek and Luisa would like to open a brick-and-mortar juice bar. Also on the horizon? Booze.
“We don’t want it to feel like ‘juice out of deprivation,’ we want it to feel luxurious,” Luisa says. “How awesome would it be to get a cocktail that has the most seasonal, interesting, fresh-picked element to it?” How would it be, Luisa? Like the best idea we ever tossed back.
Claire Hoyt is taking phone orders, mixing purees, and getting tasters ready for a mini customer at 331 Cortland’s marketplace. She’s been feverishly at work making fresh-to-order, organic baby food since she started Big Dipper Baby Food in June 2011. This is the kind of stuff parents steal from their babies.
Even before she had her son Forrest, Claire thought baby food was left out of the well-sourced food movement. Then Forrest developed a food sensitivity, and mama went to work testing recipes.
Claire has that magic of nourishing little ones with nutrient-rich recipes, yet ensuring they’ll actually swallow it by making it taste amazing. For instance, the protein and mineral content of beef marrow is balanced out with cardamom, whipped parsnips, and applesauce. What baby is lucky enough to start developing their palate eating like that?
“It’s simple. What tastes good to us, tastes good to them,” Claire says. Adults seeking chopped liver sans eggs come running to 331 Cortland for Big Dipper’s liver puree. When adults are buying baby food to eat themselves, you know you’re doing it right.
At 23, Sadie Scheffer calls the farmers’ market her bar scene and is happily covered in wheat-free flour at 5 a.m.
She started baking gluten-free to impress a boy who had an allergy. Three years later, he’s still impressed, and he’s not the only one. Bread Srsly gets orders for about 80 loaves a week. That’s a lot of baking for one young lady, and also a ton of pedaling. Sadie makes free deliveries to subscribers every Tuesday on her bike.
She says she started off being “terrible at bread,” so she tested a new recipe every week for eight months. She uses a longer fermentation process – 12 hours to rise – and feels the recipe she’s now honed, one with a thin pancake batter texture, is the golden ticket. And no one is arguing with that.
Sadie thinks there’s still a learning curve. Not that we’d be able to catch that drift. Gluten-free usually means brick-like bread, but Sadie’s is moist and sticky with a hearty crust. It has bubbles throughout, which makes for a light loaf and also good food porn for any bona fide bread baker. Speaking of which, fellow Good Egger and city loaf-supplier Josey Baker Bread was an inspiration for Sadie. She says, “I was jealous of him. So I just got over the intimidation and decided to start doing this.”
Try the kale or red beet and rosemary sourdough. This bread will change your view on gluten-free. Seriously.
You can sign up at Good Eggs for subscriptions, deliveries, and single orders for each of these food makers. But for immediate gratification you can catch each of them in person. Read about the first time I met up with Good Eggs here.
Three Babes Bakeshop sells pies at Stable Café on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sow takes over Pause Wine Bar on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Big Dipper Baby Food is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 331 Cortland in Bernal Heights.
Bread Srsly will deliver direct to you (check Good Eggs to see if you're in the free delivery zone) on Tuesdays in SF, or you can choose a pick-up location.
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