events

Welcome Chef Ty Taube

What strikes you most, when speaking with Ty Taube, is his love of simple, unadorned  ingredients. Last week he caught a live octopus, and proceeded to steam and slice it onto a puckery sunomono salad spiked with local winter citrus and pickled seaweed - also wild. This is what Ty eats at home.

A Michelin star chef from The Restaurant at Applewood in Sonoma, Ty has plated everything from miso cured black cod to whipped ricotta raviolo topped with a raw duck egg. He's equally at home introducing 9-course tasting menus to appreciative guests, as he is roasting a whole pig for friends and family on the 4th of July. He'll tell you about the black trumpet mushrooms he just found on one of his frequent foraging trips, and how he dredges them lightly in cornstarch before frying them in oil until they're puffed. 

But Ty is most at home during harvest every Tuesday, when he surveys his Santa Rosa farm for shiny purple eggplant, sprouting lettuces, bok choy, and a veritable parade of other greens. He places equal assortments of these small-crop veggies into CSA boxes for a lucky list of patrons, and onto your plates. You see, not only does Ty work magic with ingredients in the pan, he's also nursed those ingredients from seed to bloom.

We're extremely excited to welcome Ty to the forageSF family. A farmer, second-generation mushroom forager, kayaking fisherman, and California native - Ty couldn't be a more perfect fit if we had conjured him ourselves. Taste his farm-to-table cuisine at one of our Wild Kitchen roving dinners, learn how he prepares local ling cod in a hands-on cooking class, or better yet - let us bring him into your home or company event for a truly seasonal meal you'll never forget. 

Ready to meet Ty? Tell us about your next event - we'd love to get started with you!

SF Underground Market

A great night.

East Bay Underground Market

The East Bay Underground Market was a bit of an experiment. Would it work in the East Bay? Would it work outside? What did we have to do differently? Would the fire marshall show up because it was outside? Would people show up?  No way to know really.

The Paella Tent

I have to say that I had the most fun this market. It was really nice to be outside, both for the weather, and for the fact that it gave the market a much more open feel (I suppose thats a pretty obvious observation).  I really like SomArts, but it can get a bit clausterphobic. We had about 2000 people through the course of the night, but it never got too full that we had to stop letting people in.

I met a mushroom forager from Shasta (Kevin), who, like most mushroom foragers, was a bit crazy in all the best ways.  He came down to the city with a backpack full of morels, which I promptly bought (and which you'll taste in this upcoming Wild Kitchen dinner), with a promise that I could visit his farm sometime in the future.

Pizza Lovers

I found out that one of my vendors is actually a lawyer who specializes in...I believe she said it's called high risk legal strategy, and since I happen to run my life in a particularity high risk legal way, she's definitely a good person to know. Hopefully we're going to be working together to help some of the vendors jump through some hoops towards legitimacy, a hard process indeed.

We got Beat Beat Whisper to come back, this great Oakland based sibling duo that played at the first two SF Underground Markets. I love their music, makes me happy every time I hear it (I'm actually listening to it as I write). They're going to be playing at Eat Real (another great Oakland festival you should check out), at the end of the month, they are really not to be missed.

Ayla and Davyd Nereo of Beatbeat WhisperWe learned a lot at this market. About the OPD, generators (who knew renting a generator for one day could cost $3000?), porto-potty placment, spider boxes (I'll leave it up to you to imagine, although the reality is less cool than your imagination I can assure you ((hint: it has less to do with spiders, and more to do with power)).  We had some great help from one ms. Consuelo Jacobs, who I met a couple months ago, and for some reason dedicates fully too much of her time to helping make the market amazing, which is very much appreciated. We had some great vendors this time. We put out the call a couple months ago for East Bay Vendors, and got a pretty good response. Out of the 130 or so that signed up online, about 35 showed up for sample day (this is about par for the course, which Im always surprised by, but its a good way to see who is serious), of which we accepted 30.  Overall we had 55 vendors, so about half East Bay, not bad for a first attempt....enough business talk, onto the food!

Really great stuff, of which my words won't do justice, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Thanks to everyone that came, vendor and customer alike, it was a really great night.

mmm butter! A Humble Plate - Savory Lao cuisine Rogue Pizza? No, the Pizza Hacker Sasonao Nicarguan Cooking Sweet Life Cakes

Photos by Jon Wollenhaupt

thoughts

Should the SF Underground Market be bigger?

market line

market line

The first and most obvious answer to this question is yes.  If one throws an event that draws more people than your space can fit, you move up. Bigger is of course better, and in all things, we want to be as big as we can get. Right? I'm not so sure.

It’s a question I get a lot. People tell me that we need a bigger space, and the running joke seems to be that we should move it to the Cow Palace. Its definitely something we think about not the Cow Palace – when I see the hour and half wait to get in, get angry emails from customers  (actually just got my first one a couple days ago), and patiently explain to vendors for the 20th time that in fact we can’t let anyone else in at the moment, lest we all die fiery deaths as martyrs for the local food movement (translation: we've reached fire code capacity).

We’ve done our best to make the market accessible to as many people as possible.  We started this past December in a small Victorian in the Mission (seven vendors and 150 customers), and moved to a warehouse on Capp St. (30 vendors and 700 customers)— both still not big enough.  When we approached SomArts I thought that was it. There was no way we could overfill that space. This of course hasn’t proven true.

The space we have now, SomArts, is in the range of 5000  feet. That's 35ft wide, and 144 feet long. It's a large space by any measure.

We pay several thousand dollars to rent SomArts for a night and by SF standards, that's very cheap. The next space up in size is about $10,000. That’s before shelling out for a cleaning staff, security, insurance, alcohol license, the band, equipment, and all the other less obvious costs that go into creating an event for 2,000 people.  I don't say this to complain, but to set the stage for a fact: If we got a bigger space, we would be forced to raise the vendor fees. As it is, the vendor fees don't cover the cost of the space, which is why you paid $2 to get in this month. In May, we lost money on the market because the event was free. We don't need to make a killing, but a market that loses money every month will not be around very long.

"But wait,” you say, "a bigger space would mean more people, more people equals more money, so no need to charge the vendors more.” Not necessarily. A larger space would definitely let more people enter at the same time, but the number of people coming in would not be guaranteed to go up by the amount we would need to make it worth the costs.

The current vendor fee is $50, a very low bar for entry into a commercial sales space like ours, but for some of our vendors it’s a stretch to pay that cost. Our vendors are making products that they are passionate about, but are also very expensive to produce. The profit margins are already slim, and it wouldn’t feel right to charge the $100-$300 per stall that a larger space would require.

I like the size it is. The market feels more like a big party, rather than a vast trade show. I like that we can fit upwards of 40 vendors inside and still have room for a couple hundred people, while at the same time being able to see the whole space in one sweep.

I like SomArts. We have a good deal of freedom at SomArts and the people who work there. They are very supportive of our ideas, and seem to genuinely want to make things work for us. No one working on the market has much professional event organizing experience; there are a million random things to think about when planning a market, so getting some help along the way is key. A larger commercial space probably would not offer that kind of support.

I like the idea that in creating a market for the SF food community to come to together, we are at the same time supporting a venerable SF non-profit event and art space. A space that hosts the kind of events that make SF what it is. They go out of their way to court and support burgeoning orgs (like ours) that would otherwise not be able to afford such a professional space, and for that they deserve our support. Every person that walks through their door helps them to get funding from grants as well as the city, so 2,000 people coming through each month at our market gives them some real leverage.

People do have to wait. I don't feel good about it (although most people I talk to seem pretty happy with the whole experience, meeting fellow food obsessives in line is always fun). It’s great that people come out to show so much support, and ideally we wouldn't make them wait so long to show that support.  Note: If you want to miss the lines, come during the day next month, there will be tons of room.

Next months SF Underground Market will again be at SomArts on July 24th(this time on a weekend!).  Although there is often a wait at night (hint: for a more relaxed time, come during the day).  I want to say that I really do appreciate that people wait as long as they do. That kind of support shows the vendors that there is a market for what they make, and encourages them to keep getting better at what they do.  I do believe that bigger is not always better, and there is a really intimate vibe now that I feel like we may lose if we expand. This doesn't mean it will always be there, but for the time being we're staying put.  Let me know what you think. You think we should move? Did you see anything at the last market that needs changing? Thanks for reading, and thanks for coming, see you all next month!

Thanks,

Iso

photo by Robin Jolin: robinjolin.com