food movement

forageSF

a holiday musing on the high church of food...

I hope you’re all having a great holiday. I’m up in northern CA at my dad’s, sitting by a tree cut from the nearby woods. I actually went to church last night for one of the first times (I’m a non-practicing Jew), and was reflecting on how nice it must be to be religious. The foundation that it must give to your life, the calm and reassurance it gives every decision. 

The idea that someone is there looking out for you, but also the way the rituals frame your life that non-religious people search for. What to do and not to do in certain situations. How to treat people and how to solve the problems that come up in every life. I think this is one of the reasons I focus on food. Food, like religion, is a way for people to come together around a common set of ideals; a way to join a community of like-minded individuals that live their lives with common purpose and focus. 

Food has become so much more than just what we put in our bodies. It has become a lens through which we feel we can view and influence every part of our lives, as well as the world. The environment, the economy, health, society, government policy, we can touch all these through the decisions we make with the food we eat. That’s why I’m excited about opening Forage Kitchen. Yes, it will be a place where people can work, but more than that, it will be a place for people with shared ideas can come together. A place to learn, grow, and nurture, not just discrete businesses, but a community of people who share the same ideals about how the world should be. 

Some may say I’m being a bit over the top, but to me food is so much more than what you eat. It’s a daily statement of the direction you want the world to move, and a tangible thing you can hold that expresses what you believe in. 

Forage Kitchen is coming: we’re getting the permits signed, the plans through the planning, and the designs on the paper. I’ll see you all there soon. Hope you’re having a great holiday, and ideally eating far more than you should.

Thanks

Iso

thoughts

IT'S NOT A TREND!

Sometimes I worry that it is. That all this; local food, local community, organic food, humane treatment of animals, developing local economies based on people running their own businesses, mutual trust built on real relationships, the move away from industrial food, that it’ll all go away. It’s happened before. This philosophy was popular back in the 1960’s; canning, foraging (Euell Gibbons is still my go to for wild edible knowledge), small-scale farming… all the kids were doing it. Then came the 80’s with TV dinners and… well, honestly, I wasn’t too aware of what was going on in the 80’s, but I do know that in the 90’s I went to a hippie boarding school (Buxton!) where we chopped our own wood, the dorm I lived in was called “The Barn,”  but we still had chicken patty Wednesdays and “Orange Drink” on the table at every meal.  By then the pendulum had swung back, and no one gave a second thought to what they were putting in their bodies.  I sometimes worry that this decline will happen again. I got a book in the mail the other day that gives me hope that this won’t be the case. It’s called “Farming the City” , a book created in Amsterdam, and at its heart it’s a glossary of food movements taking place around the planet.  There’s Brook Park Chickens in the Bronx, a small volunteer run chicken coop; Turntable Urban Garden In Helsinki, a government-funded community garden, educational space, and café; Culinary Misfits in Berlin, started by two women who reclaim produce deemed unsuitable for sale (which is often thrown away) to repurpose into jams and preserves; I could go on. For that list I just opened the book to random pages, and throughout there are scores of similar projects, great examples of people who come up with an idea, then fight to make it happen. From starting my own business I know how hard it must have been for each and every one of them. From the day they had that light bulb moment, to the days and months and years it took to tear it out of their brain and manifest it for the world to see.

What gives me hope is that people seem to keep doing it, and not just here, but all over the world. There’s a lot of talk of us living in a bubble here in The Bay Area, and we do, there is no arguing that. What we are, and what the bubble allows us to be, is an incubator for ideas that spread across the world.   The support and excitement that people here show for new ideas catapults things that otherwise may have never existed into reality. People look to our ideas and create their own, and the freedom of our bubble inspires others to see the ability in themselves to create the change they want to see in their own world.  What is great about all this is that we're not the only bubble. We're part of a global community of people, all with their heads down working hard to reshape the world into one they want to exist. We look to others for inspiration and they look to us. I truly do believe that if we all keep it up, the world will be a very different place when we’re done.

-Iso

thoughts

On management (and the beginnings of a business)

Those of you that subscribe to this blog probably don't do it to hear management tips, but as a business owner its probably the thing I struggle with the most. How to manage people. How to get a group of people, each with their own mind and own personality, to help you create a very personal vision.  When I started my business, I thought the hardest thing would be getting people interested in what I thought was interesting, and yes, get them to buy what I was selling (gotta pay the rent). That was hard. I remember the first time forageSF went public. I had come up with the idea for the CSF (wild food CSA) about 2 weeks earlier, had been spending time deciding how much the boxes were going to cost, what would be in them, where I would forage, and how to get the word out. It was the last day of  Slow Food Nation, and it occurred to me that this was a perfect opportunity to introduce my idea to the masses. Up until this point, forageSF was just an idea in my head. I'd talked to my friends about it, but hadn't really put it out into the world. It's a scary thing, putting yourself out there with an idea thats different. So I rush printed some cards with the logo I'd created, what the boxes were, some info about my philosophy of splitting profit with foragers, rode my bike down to city hall, and staked out a spot with good traffic. That was the first moment. I got some good response. People seemed interested. I got some comments asking if I was collecting from dumspters. Some comments about the ecological impact of what I was doing, but overall, people seemed into it. But I digress.

At that point I didn't give a second thought to managing people, how to navigate the rocky shoals of personality styles. People respond differently to different things. Some people need to be coaxed into getting stuff done, some people appreciate a more direct approach. Some people need to be micromanaged (something that is not in my DNA), some people can take an idea and run with it.

When I think of my ideal company, I think of a group of people, all spending time doing what they love, in pursuit of a common mission.  Collaborating on ideas, lifting each other up with suggestions, and able to work on projects without too much input from me. This is deceptively hard to achieve.  When you are an entrepreneur, you imagine everyone thinks like you. That everyone has a singular vision to create what you want to create, and thinks like you think. The challenge is trying to see your work through the eyes of your employees. What inspires them about the job? What seems like drudgery? Whats going on in their lives outside of work that might be effecting them? Sometimes I feel like a psychologist, trying to peer into their brains to figure out what makes them tick. It's a constant challenge.

Luckily I think Im getting better at it. Or at least Im more aware of the mistakes I've made in the past, and try my best not to make them again. A couple of the lessons I've learned so far are:

Don't yell. Especially in food, high pressure situations are constantly in front of you, and the impulse to tear into someone in public is high, but it doesn't solve the problem, and all you'll get is a disgruntled worker. What I try to do (mostly successfully), is to try to solve the problem directly in front of me, and then make a note to talk about it later. Tensions run high at events, and its always better to sleep on it rather than explode. At the same time, you can't let things slide too much, so even though its uncomfortable, I try my best to bring it up within a couple days. This also gives you time to come up with a solution to keep it from happening again. When I do have a discussion with the person, I try to let them come to the solution on their own rather than giving it to them, I find that works much better.

If someone isn't doing something right, it's probably your fault. This is a philosophy I really try to live by. If you have a skilled, intelligent, inspired person working for you (and there is no reason ever to hire anyone else), they truly do want to do a good job. They also have the capacity to do a good job. So if they aren't, most likely its because they havnt been given the tools to do something the way you want it done. I think business is a lot like making movies. A director has an image in his head of what the movie will be, and he can't create that image alone, so its his job to employ an army of people to help him craft that image.

Its the same when you're starting any business that is crafted around a vision. The people working with you didn't come up with the vision, and they can't see into your head. All they can do is listen to what you tell them, and try their best to help you pull your idea out into the world.  You need to set up the environment that helps them do this.

With some people thats checking in daily on progress. With some people thats leaving them to it, and making sure they know you're there for support if they need it. It's a constant flow, of figuring out what kind of support people need to accomplish tasks. Of course, sometimes you run into people that aren't a good fit, and although its hard, its also your responsibility to deal with that situation rather than let it fester.

I've rambled for long enough. People who know me know that these are issues I struggle with constantly. I really do believe thats its the hardest part of getting a business from a solo enterprise into a larger company. The reality is that you can't do it all alone (at least I can't), so learning these skills is essential.  I havnt found the answers yet, but in the pursuit of trying to help people get to where I'm at without quite so much pain, I thought Id lay out the conclusions I've come to.  There is something that smacks of manipulation in what I've written here as I read it over, but it's really more about helping people to do the best job they can do at what they love in an environment they feel comfortable in. That's all we can really ask for.

Do you run a business? If so, what have you found that works with your employees? Please let me know, I'm always looking to get better at this. Iso

An Incubator Kitchen

Kickstart-it

   Raising Some Funds for Forage Kitchen

I'm getting really excited about our kickstarter campaign for Forage Kitchen. I think it'll be a great way to not only raise some funds to get the project rolling, but also a way to get the word out on the project. I'm trying to leave nothing to chance, I hate the idea of working so hard on getting a video done, raising some cash, and then losing it because we haven't made the full amount (the way kickstarter works is that you set a goal, and if you don't reach that goal, you don't get any of the donations you've accrued).

This project seems like it will be a popular one, but in the interest of being prepared, this is my plan of action:

1. Make a great video - We've been working for a while on making a great script for the video. One that explains what the project is, why we're doing it, who it will help (both locally and nationally), specifically what we will use the money for (very important this is included), and what I've done in the past as far as community oriented organizing.

I see this project as not only an SF creation, but something that can be used as a model for other cities that have similar needs. I think the spread of The Underground Market has shown that there is a real national movement of people producing food on a small scale, and the bottleneck is a space where they can come together to work on their businesses. We also got a great illustrator to draw some pictures of what the kitchen will be, and we're going to incorporate them into the video.

2. Make a plan - I met up with a guy named Dan Whaley who has recently raised $100K on kickstarter with a project called Hypothesis, to get some advice on the process. It was incredibly illuminating to talk to him. Before we spoke I thought we would make a video, send it out to the email list, and hope for the best. What he taught me is that you really need a coordinated plan. Who you're going to send it out to, and at what time. Most videos experience an initial burst of funding in the first few days, then level off. What he suggested is that you plan for that, and create a 3 section approach. 1. Initial blast to people who will support the project -contacts both personal and professional 2. Contact media to write stories as the project is starting to level out, for a new burst of interest mid-way through 3. A final push in the last couple days of the project, for that final support

I've begun to make a list of people/organizations that I know/think would be interested in supporting the project, and Im excited by how broad they are. Im going to reach out to a pretty diverse list of media, some that I've worked with in the past, some that I'll be cold calling, food orgs, chefs around the country, leaders of other underground markets locally and worldwide. This is really something people can get behind, and its cool to be working on a project that I can feel 100% in saying is being created for all the right reasons.

I've been talking a lot about this project recently, but this will be the first national exposure it will get. Its exciting, and actually pretty terrifying, but calming to think that we've got a lot of support behind something that will be great when its created.

Have you kickstarted? What's your experience? Tips? Things to avoid? Can you suggest organizations/individuals that you know/think would be into giving the project exposure?

Thanks Iso

wild kitchen

A Basque Feast: Recap and photos

The Basque feasts were a great success. We sold out both nights, with around 160 people each night, seated at long communal tables. This was my first foray into serving a family style meal, and I think it went really well. Something I've always liked about The Wild Kitchen is how much people interact with eachother. A lot of the dishes we serve have ingredients they've never had before, so there is almost always a pleasant din of "Is that the miners lettuce?"...."I've never had local uni before"....."I had no idea you could make ice cream with acorn flour".  New friends are always made. We also had the special treat of having hand painted menus by Juniper Harrower. She paints with local wine and ink made from ink cap mushrooms she forages. Pretty amazing stuff. The same thing happened with these past meals. Trays of asparagus with guanciale were passed in exchange for salt code rice with piperade, and a similar din ensued. Thanks to everyone that came out, we'll definitely be doing it again.

[gallery]

photos by Andria Lo

wild kitchen

Health Department Blues

01_Wild_Kitchen_Pop_Up_Restaurant_AndriaLo

Our ever evolving saga with the health department has a new chapter. Since June, when The Underground Market was shut down, we have been trying our best to work with DPH (Department of Public Health). We have all the permits we need, fill out the ever increasing number of forms that are required for the privilege of feeding people in our fair city, and jump through all the myriad hoops put in front of us.  I have been trying my best to come up with solutions to re-open The Underground Market that they're ok with, and at every turn we're rebuked. They seem to have no interest in supporting the food community in SF. Every step they take is a step to push anyone doing innovative food further underground. The most recent situation for us is with our upcoming Basque dinners this weekend. After filling out permits, sending in forms, getting a legit kitchen with a permitted dining room, we are still in danger of getting shut down. The space we are using apparently has an invalid occupancy permit the the fire department. This basically means that a form needs to be turned in to prove that people can safely be in the space. This is the same space we have held our events for months, without a peep about occupancy. Suddenly, a day before our event, we're told we're in violation. I can't see this as anything but a move to shut us down.

I realize they have a job to do, but while the city talks out of one side of its mouth about supporting small businesses, and getting people back to work, the very city organizations that deal with small businesses do everything they can to shut us down. If we desire any real change in the way our country eats, we need to do more than just swear off mcdonalds. We need to work together to create a situation where it's easier to serve good local food at a local scale than it is to serve processed crap flown in from all over the world.  We need to do more than just make an effort to shop at farmers markets, we need to work to make it viable for small producers to start businesses using local ingredients.  Thankfully we're moving in that direction, but certainly not there yet.

We are going ahead with our events tomorrow. Wish us luck.

wild kitchen

Health department blues

Our ever evolving saga with the health department has a new chapter. Since June, when The Underground Market was shut down, we have been trying our best to work with DPH (Department of Public Health). We have all the permits we need, fill out the ever increasing number of forms that are required for the privilege of feeding people in our fair city, and jump through all the myriad hoops put in front of us.  I have been trying my best to come up with solutions to re-open The Underground Market that they're ok with, and at every turn we're rebuked. They seem to have no interest in supporting the food community in SF. Every step they take is a step to push anyone doing innovative food further underground. The most recent situation for us is with our upcoming Basque dinners this weekend. After filling out permits, sending in forms, getting a legit kitchen with a permitted dining room, we are still in danger of getting shut down. The space we are using apparently has an invalid occupancy permit the the fire department. This basically means that a form needs to be turned in to prove that people can safely be in the space. This is the same space we have held our events for months, without a peep about occupancy. Suddenly, a day before our event, we're told we're in violation. I can't see this as anything but a move to shut us down. Its ridiculous that DPH can be so shortsighted on these issues.

I realize they have a job to do, but while the city talks out of one side of its mouth about supporting small businesses, and getting people back to work, the very city organizations that deal with small businesses do everything they can to shut us down. If we desire any real change in the way our country eats, we need to do more than just swear off mcdonalds. We need to work together to create a situation where it's easier to serve good local food at a local scale than it is to serve processed crap flown in from all over the world.  We need to do more than just make an effort to shop at farmers markets, we need to work to make it viable for small producers to start businesses using local ingredients.  Thankfully we're moving in that direction, but certainly not there yet.

We are going ahead with our events tomorrow. Wish us luck.

SF Underground Market

Underground Market Shutdown : An Update

I started the Underground Market in 2009 as a reaction to the high bar of entry that has been created to start a food business, something that I experienced personally. Starting in a house in the Mission with seven vendors and 150 eaters, the market has grown to feed over 50,000 people and help over 400 vendors get their start.

As many of you have heard, the health department came to the last Underground Market on July 11th and served us a cease and desist letter, stating they no longer considered the market a private event.

The market was able to function to this point because it was considered a private event (hence the market sign-ups). We organized it in this way following a suggestion by the health department. Everyone who walks through the door is a member who knows they are eating un-certified food , so technically the health department doesn't have to be involved.

They have decided (apparently with pressure from the state level), that the market is no longer a private event, and can therefore not continue as it has. We have requested a meeting with the city attorney for a definition of what a private/public event is exactly, so we can determine where the line is, and continue running the market.

This was not an unexpected event. We’ve known that it was only a matter of time until someone became upset about the popularity of the event. Because we’ve been expecting it doesn’t mean that we accept it.

Over the last year and a half The Underground Market has grown into a supportive community of makers and eaters. We see that in the 30-50 new vendors that apply every month, bringing samples of foods they clearly poured their hearts into, and the thousands of people who walk through the door each month to eat that food.

Our goal is to keep this momentum going. We would like to see the market continue to exist much as it has because we feel that it provides a necessary venue for people starting new food businesses. We’re interested in providing a space for entrepreneurs who for a myriad of reasons are not able to abide by the regulations put in place. The regulations, upfront costs, red tape, and lack of clarity in procedures all too often stop amazing food from ever being eaten.

The market is used in different ways by different people. Some are home cooks that have always wanted to sell, but for various reasons have not been able. Cocotutti is a prime example. She sold her first chocolates at the market over a year ago, and has since won national awards, moved into a commercial kitchen, and is approaching markets to stock her goods. KitchenSidecar worked at a bio consulting job, with a food blog on the side, before she found the market. Now she cooks full-time, caters, holds her own dinners, and collaborates on a Vietnamese pop-up restaurant called Rice Paper Scissors with another vendor, Little Knock. Nosh This was working as an architect before he was laid off and turned to the world of candy. Following his recent appearances in the New York Times, his wholesale accounts have exploded, he has moved into a commercial kitchen, and is working to make “Bacon Crack” a household name.

These are a few examples of people whose business, and some would say lives, have been changed because of their exposure at the market. People who have been able to earn money for themselves instead of populating the unemployment rolls. People who are contributing to the local economy while at the same time expanding the local food community.

We want the Underground Market to be a space for food entrepreneurs to get started on a small scale. And we want to continue to offer them more resources to move forward. We have seen the need for some time to have a space where vendors can produce their wares commercially. A space where we can hold classes on food safety/business, have commercial kitchen space for vendor use, retail space for them to sell, and café space with rotating chefs for them to cook. This space will be a hub, a place where people can come together around the wealth of food being produced in our city. We are starting work on looking for a space/getting details together on the project, and will send more information out soon.

On a personal note, I want to say that I really appreciate all the support people have shown. From emails from friends to tweets from strangers, you have all shown that you think the market is an important event and that you want it to continue.

This shutdown is an opportunity to find a workable model that can help not only The Underground Market in SF, but similar markets all over the country. The precedent we set here will ripple across the country. It will effect not only San Francisco vendors, but vendors nationwide. From cottage food laws to street food, we’ve seen an explosion of opportunity for small entrepreneur food businesses pop up over the last several years. We will continue to move forward toward our goal of keeping the market open, and our struggle can be an opportunity to find yet another way to help this movement grow.

Thank you,

Iso Rabins founder, forageSF

------- How to be involved --------

Contact your local city supervisor or: - Call or email the Mission District supervisor, David Campos

David.Campos@sfgov.org (415) 554-5144

There are also more tangible ways to get involved, especially if you have legal expertise, so please email us if you’d like to get help out:

1. Keep the Underground Market - Legal and political organizing expertise, email markets@foragesf.com 2. forageSF incubator project - Investors, designers, contractors, lawyers email iso@foragesf.com

We want to hear what you think, so if you have any other ideas, questions, or suggestions, please email iso@foragesf.com. To stay up to date on what’s happening, follow our blog at foragesf.com/blog.

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SF Underground Market

and it was good.

Our very special Easter/Passover Underground Market is over (to be honest it had nothing to do with either of those holidays, but glad people could take a break from feasting to come by). It was quite a success.  We had over 40 vendors, 3200 eaters (a new record), a food truck (a first), and a line down the block.  We were much more careful about capacity this time, stopping entrance at 580 (after which we only let people in when others left), and it made for a much more manageable vibe. We also set up seating outside, so people had a place to sit down and eat. I've felt bad ever since we started having the market at Public Works about the over 21 policy (this is necessary because of the kind of license Public Works has), so we set up an area outside where kids could hang out and eat without actually going into the space. We had about 10 people take advantage of it, which isn't a lot, but a start.  We lowered the number of vendors inside this time around, so people would have more space to walk, and that also improved the overall feel I thought. Overall I (in my humble opinion), thought it was a really great market.

I had a great time, and I hope you did too. I've been looking at some other spaces, and recently sent an email to the armory folks (on 14th/mission, owned by kink.com). Apparently they have a huge space, and maybe they would let us give tours....Thanks to everyone who came out and ate, thanks to all the vendors that made delicious food, it was a good night. Here are a couple pics from the market, in case you didn't get to come. If you are interested in being a vendor at next months market, look here for info on the next sample day. If you're not on our list yet, and want to get a note about the next market, please sign up to be a member here. See you next month!

Iso

wild kitchen

Foraging Mussels

I love collecting mussels. These pics are from a couple weeks ago when me and my girlfriend went down south. Was a lot of fun, mix of work and play.  We actually got approached by a fish and game officer, so I was happy that I bought us both fishing licenses. Its worth it if you are going to collect mussels, because the fines are pretty intense. The limit for mussels is 10 lbs a person, and you’re only allowed to use your hands to pry them off (so no knives allowed!) Go at low or minus tide. Have fun! Things to bring:

Gloves

Bucket

Fishing license

I just heard an interesting story, that mussel fisherman down south used to save the threads from the mussel "beards" and make gloves out of them. Pretty cool, and makes sense, they are some strong threads.

SF Underground Market

February 5th Underground Market Vendors

The market is at SomArts, at 934 Brannan St, in SF. Starts at 11am, ends at 11:00pm. DAY VENDORS:

Sasonao latin Cuisine  --  Tony Ulloa  --  Nicaraguan cuisine Fresh Bite Bakery  --  Cindy Tsai Schultz/Terry Betts  --  http://www.freshbitebaking.com/ --  baked goods Todd Masonis  --  bean-to-bar chocolate mo foods  --  Caterina Rindi/Jae Brim  --   www.mo-foods.com --  foraged/gleaned pickles & preserves Epicurean Solutions  --  Moira Tocatium  --  Veggie Deli Salads Starter Bakery  --  Brian M. Wood  --  www.starterbakery.com --  bakery Three Bowls  --  Indu Kline  --  Ambrosia - food of the gods James Saltzman's Smoked Bacon  --  James Saltzman  --  smoked bacon & brownies Rokas/Kelli Armonas  --  honey & mushrooms Beet Freaks  --  Sharon Salmon  --  pickles Earth Alchemy Chocolate  --  Susan Marjanovic  --  earthalchemychocolate.squarespace.com/ --  raw herbal chocolate Bread Project  --  Diedre Linburn  --  chocolate chip cookies The Chai Cart  --  Paawin  --  hot chai & chai packets Canvas Underground  --  Peter Jackson   www.canvasunderground.com --  meats & gumbo Raja Sen  --  dal and balsamic vinaigrette Quackery  --  Scott/Ramona  --  kombucha Ben Sawicki  --  flavored kale chips & veggie curry Josey Baker  --  bread Dehesa  --  Edward Lekwart  --  artisan sausages Tamales By Rudy  --  Rudy Santiago  --  burrito-sized tamales German Bread  --  Katrin Staugaard/Daniela Busse  --  traditional German bread & foraged plum jams Le Chaudron Magique  --  Isabelle Sin  --  seasonal jams Kirsten Roehler  --  seasoned goat cheese, seasoned salts & pickled lemons Yaella Frankel  --  chutneys, relishes & salsas Telegraph Hill Coffee Roasters  --  David Oliver  --   www.telegraphcoffeesf.com --  coffee

NIGHT VENDORS:

Flosa Creamery  --  Jordan Grosser  --  bacon-wrapped mochi CoCoTutti  --  Elyce Zahn  --  http://cocotutti.com/ --  caramels, chocolates Jilli  --  Will Schrom and Jacky Hayward--  www.jilli-icecream.com --  sarsaparilla and raw ice cream! Whole Beast Supper Club  --  Kevin Bunnell  --  pig products Lan Kulapaditharom  --  Tawainese: beef/chicken slider & shrimp wonton Lelajay's Ridiculously Good Gluten-FREE  --  Lila Akhzar  --  gluten-free brownie bites Aaron's Almost Better Than Sex Cake  --  Aaron Keller  --  chocolate oreo-toffee cake & beer dogs Sidesaddle Kitchen  --  Laura Miller  --  www.facebook.com/SidesaddleKitchen --  raw vegan pies Mama’s African Kitchen   --  Dupe Bello  --  traditional African curry dishes JazzyB's Recipez  --  Jasmine Ball  --  mac n’ cheese-veggie & w/pork belly A Humble Plate  --  Rathsamee Ly  --  Laotian Food Saucy Dumplings  --  Michael Lee  --  pork & vegetarian dumplings Hella Vegan Eats  --  Sylvester Chitica/James Raushenberg  --  www.hellaveganeats.com --  Vegan deliciousness Luscious Liquids  --  Kathy DeWitt/Tracee Raptis  --  elixirs and such Sajen Foods  --  Morisinah Katimin  --  Gado-gado & satay burger w/peanut sauce (Indonesian street food) Laksa Pho King  --  Stephen Backer  --  Vietnamese Pho & Malaysian Curry Laksa The Occasional Macaron Shop  --  Katie/George Wang  --  www.facebook.com/macaronshop --  macarons Angry Man Eats  --  Paul Midgen  --  chicken & waffles Tamale Nation  --  Alison Greenwood/Maria  --  tamales & empanadas Eric Eberman  --  veggie empanadas Bake It Banana  -- Courtney Dougherty  --  banana desserts

OUTDOOR NIGHT VENDORS: Kitchen Sidecar  --  Katie Kwan  --  www.kitchensidecar.com --  banh mi burger Pizza Hacker  --  Jeff Krupman  --  pizza The Grilled Cheese Guy  --  Michael Davidson  --  grilled cheese Sataysfied  --  Feldo Nartapura  --  www.sataysfied.com --  Indonesian satays Boffo Cart  --  Rhasaan Fernandez/Crystal Williams  -- hot sandwiches & paninis Panguita  --  Andre Joffroy  -- beer battered fish tacos & beef tostadas

SF Underground Market

Night Market

A couple weeks ago, we had our real first Underground Market collaboration with Public Works.  It went really well.  Dare I say it was one of the best markets yet?  Almost all the vendors sold out and over 2,700 people came throughout the day.  The Public Works space is really great: two floors with enough nooks and crannies that you’re always discovering new food creations around every corner. On top of that, there were two full bars, which is of course never a bad thing.  We had 60 vendors with everything from bacon wrapped mochi to brick oven pizza to jerk chicken to Vietnamese crab noodles to kombucha. Throughout the day portion of the market, about 500 people came through, which was a good amount for the space. We had a pretty broad range of vendors, from chicken and waffles to kombucha, and everyone who came through seemed to have a good time. The space is such that less people fill it out, although the capacity is still pretty high.  I left at 4 to get some last minute prep done (I made ramen with char siu for the market).

Although I also organize the market, I almost always cook something.  The reason I started the market in the first place was so I could have a booth, and I’m always more happy cooking than just standing around. When I came back just before six, there was already a line wrapped down the block, and around the corner.   It was great to see. It felt like the second market we did. The first market we ever threw attracted 150 people, and the second one had over 800. I never imagined it would be that popular.  It was so exciting to walk out and see that many people at an event I was organizing. This felt the same way; it had that same sense of excitement. The line was there for most of the night, although it was moving pretty fast, and the market didn’t really die out until around 1am.

Music has always been something we’ve wanted to include in the market.  From the first time, with 15 people sitting in a circle around an acoustic guitar player, I’ve always imagined that music was one of the things that set our market apart from a regular farmers market.  Unfortunately, a lot of the time it’s been an afterthought, something we have, but is not given the attention it needs to really be a focus. Public Works handled that this time. Although it wasn’t exactly the kind of music I listen to, I thought that it gave a nice vibe to the day.  It really went off just like we talked about, with chill, background music during the day that gave way to hard electronic from 12-2. We also had a smattering of acts, from a violin player to an accordion, that were playing throughout the market. It gave a nice vibe, something akin to a Parisian street fair.

Public Works is definitely somewhere we’ll be again. The guys who work there made it super easy to pull off a great market, and the space is great.  We’re actually thinking about having it outside when the weather gets better, which should be a lot of fun. We would close off the street, with a beer garden, music, and lots of vendors outside.

That’s all for now. Overall I think it went great.  A good first collaboration, and definitely not the last (I’m meeting with Kelly from Indiemart this week).   The great thing about this kind of collaboration is the way it takes us out of our heads. Gets some fresh ideas, and exposes us to other audiences. It’s good to see so many people come out to support this kind of event.

Every vendor at the market is someone who is trying to make their passion their profession, and a market like this shows that it’s definitely possible.  For those of you who came late and didn’t find too much food left, very sorry. Amazingly, almost every vendor sold out by 10pm. We actually went out to the market and bought ingredients for egg sandwiches at 11, just so there would be something left. It was amazing how much people bought.  Thanks to everyone that came out, both sellers and buyers, you’re the reason it all works.  For more pics from the market, check out our facebook page

The next market is Saturday Feb 5th at SomArts, 934 Brannan, SF from 11am-11pm

Thanks

Iso Rabins

photos by Andria Lo

SF Underground Market

If this bill passes, it could destroy the Underground Market

There is a bill being voted on this Monday that could completely destroy what we are all trying to build.  I don't usually speak out against congressional bills, I think that more good is done focusing on building locally rather than getting angry about what is happening on the federal level, but this bill needs to be stopped.  SB510 is a food safety overhall that authorizes fines up to $250,000 for doing exactly what we do at the Underground Market. Selling food made in home kitchens.  Killing small food producers, while allowing agri-business to thrive.  It even makes it illegal to give away food from your own home garden.  This bill would theoretically make every vendor at the Underground Market liable for a quarter million dollar fine for selling you a jar of jam. It could also make you liable for those same fines for giving away your backyard veggies to your neighbor.

I know most of us (and I include myself) often think that our voice has no impact, that writing a letter or making a call isn't going to change anything, but in this instance, we at least need to try.  If you have anything to add, or if you made a call or wrote a letter, let me know with a comment on this blog.

Read this for more information on the bill: http://bit.ly/fwGbwR

Call the congressional hotline to voice your opposition: 1-888-493-5443

wild kitchen

Pics from our last dinner

Hey all This last week we did three wild kitchen dinners in a row. Was fun, and really exhausting.  I love cooking, and being able to do it on that scale was a good time.  We're going to be doing at least 3 more this month, look out for the menu in about a week. We're also going to be offering ten $40 tickets per meal  (in addition to the the 55 $80 tickets).    I like the idea of the dinners being more accessible, but I couldn't pay the rent, and get the quality of food I serve, if they were all that price.  If you can afford the $80 ticket, please leave the lower priced seats for those who can't.  I will be announcing the sale of these lower cost tickets on twitter a few days before the general tickets go on sale, so if you're not already, follow us (that phrase has always stuck me as strange, but what else is there...twitter us....join us....). Anyway, onto the pics! These were taken by one ms. Andria Lo, I really like her style.  If you want to check out the next dinner, please sign up for our email list in the "subscribe" box at foragesf.com

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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

Uncategorized

July SF Underground Market Full Vendor List

Here's a list of all the vendors that will be at this Saturdays SF Underground Market at SomArts (934 Brannan St). We've got some really great stuff this time around! Remember, you can get a ticket online, or just show up at the door, but either way, you need to become a member here. See you Saturday!

  • Tony (Anthony) Ulloa   -- empanadas and plantain chips -- Sasonao latin Cuisine
  • Julia Lazar and Tom Franco  -- 23Monkeytree -- santosha kombucha
  • Maryanne Cooper (Bendotoff)   -- Foodie Fix -- ice cream
  • Amber Shigg   -- Golden Roots Catering -- vegan and veggie cuisine
  • Lori Lovejoy  -- Laar's whole-grain treats -- whole grain healthy cookies
  • Rebecca Dyas & Rebecca Hardberger   -- R&R Italian Sauces -- Italian pasta sauces
  • Steve Green   -- Dr. Steve's Magic -- veggie & fruit juices and cakes
  • Natalia Anguiano   -- Dona Lucy Salsa -- salsas & moles
  • Caterina Rindi & Jae Brim   -- mo foods -- lemonade, marmalade and sabayon
  • Denise Leung   -- mmmeat! -- asian style carnitas
  • Leah melnik   -- De Lovely -- BBQ glazes and granola bars -- http://delovelydinners.com/meet_the_chef
  • Emmy Moore & Jonah Susskind   -- Emmy's -- pickles & jams
  • Steve Jakubowics & Sarah Choi   -- Nonesuch Bakery -- baked goods --http://nonesuchbakery.blogspot.com/
  • Katie/George Wang   -- The Macaron Shop -- macaroons
  • Susan Marjanovic   -- Earth Alchemy Chocolate -- chocolates-- http://earthalchemychocolate.squarespace.com/
  • Jackie Woods   -- Monet's Cakes -- cupcakes -- http://twitter.com/MonetsCakes
  • Leslie Quinn   -- Zukra Bakery -- gluten-free treats
  • Robert Minasian   -- California Cane & Fruit Co. -- cane juice -- http://californiacaneandfruit.com/
  • Sheryl Leaf & George Gumulsinski    -- biscotti & granola
  • Marisa Williams   -- Dulceria -- cooies & cakes
  • Alice Wilson   -- peach BBQ sauce
  • Amie Bailey/Angie Serna   -- Sugartit Kitchens -- baked goods, pickles & jams
  • Rebecca Ets-Hokin   -- http://www.gorebecca.com/ -- honey
  • Jessica Hubler   -- Sweet Francisco -- sweets -- http://www.sweetfrancisco.com/
  • Cork Marcheschi   -- Red Dot Eats -- carmel-almond-chocolate turtles and filled buns
  • Loris Matterson   -- JERK. (Matterson's Authentic Jamaican Cuisine) -- jerked chicken and bread
  • Erin Wade/Allison Arevalo  --  Homeroom (formerly Little Mac) -- mac n’ cheese
  • Lisette  -- Evil Jerk Cart -- Authentic Jamaiican Cuisine -- http://www.eviljerkcart.com/
  • Paula Tejeda   -- Chile Lindo Empenadas -- empenadas -- http://chilelindoempanadas.com/
  • Keith Agoada   -- Empenada de mi pueblo -- empenadas -- http://lucinaskitchen.com/
  • Roberto Mercado & Katelyn Murdock  -- La Chureria  -- churros w/dipping sauce
  • Emilianna Ceribelli  -- Chef Mili -- French & Brazilian treats -- http://www.chefmili.com/
  • Ahram   -- Ahram Namu Kimchi -- kimchi topped hotdogs
  • Rathsamee Ly   -- A Humble Plate -- Laotian food -- http://twitter.com/ahumbleplate
  • Van Dao  -- Biscuit Boy -- biscuits
  • Will Schrom --   sarsaparilla and raw ice cream
  • Kathy DeWitt/Tracee Raptis   -- Luscious Liquids -- elixirs and mixers
  • Zach Watson   -- Dr. Watson's Sausages for Days -- sausages
  • Rebecca Cheng  -- ??
  • Sarah Dvorak  -- Mission Cheese -- racellette -- http://missioncheese.blogspot.com/2009/09/comte.html
  • Katie Kwan  -- KitchenSidecar -- banh mi burger -- http://twitter.com/kitchensidecar
  • Clay & Robin Knight  --  salsa
  • Ron Escopete  -- Uncle Clem's Food -- chicken & rice -- http://twitter.com/uncleclemsfood
  • Andrew Baber   -- Chu it up -- Gochujang sauce and hot Korean dishes -- http://www.chuitup.com/
  • Becky Spencer   -- urban preserves -- jams -- http://www.facebook.com/urbanpreserves?v=info
  • Moira Tocatium   -- Epicurean Solutions -- deli salads
  • Jeff Krupman   -- PizzaHacker --  oven baked pizza -- http://www.thepizzahacker.com/
  • Brandon Yee   -- pulled pork sandwiches and briscuit
  • Michael Christie/Abby Ward  -- SF Delicious Catering -- French Street Food -- http://www.sfdelicious.com/
  • Seema Hamid  -- Rotee Brunch -- Pakistani | German | American Fusion Brunch -- http://roteebrunch.blogspot.com/2010/04/rotee-brunch-menu.html
  • Genny McAuley  -- Nanny's Mustard -- mustard
  • Laura Miller   -- Sidesaddle Kitchen -- raw vegan cookies -- http://twitter.com/SidesaddleKitch
  • Katy McLean  -- Christopher David Macaron -- macaroons -- http://christopherdavidmacaron.com/
  • Chris Chiang  -- Auntie Priscilla's Gourmet -- curry dumplings
  • James Hall  -- Raw Daddy (JimmiJam) -- raw food cones -- http://www.rawdaddyfoods.com/
  • Branden Herrell  --   burgers w/special sauce
  • Angela Montemayor  -- Angela's Blackbottom cakes -- cupcakes
  • Molly de vries  -- The Fabric Society -- textile carriers -- http://ambataliafabrics.blogspot.com/
  • Devon Fenimore  -- Bakesale Fruit Crisps -- fruit crisps -- http://devonfenimore.com/test2/

Uncategorized

and the third market is done!

The SF Underground Market has turned 3 (in months, not years).  It began with me and 7 other vendors selling wild mushrooms, jams, pies and corned beef sandwiches in a mission neighborhood home.  The first market had about 200 people attending. By the third, amazingly, it has grown into a warehouse sized behemoth of 47 vendors selling everything from salami to ginger beer to pickled grapes to wild boar, with over 1,200 people lining up outside to get in.

At this market I made salt and sugar cured pork belly buns. People really seemed to like them, which was nice to see, although I need to figure out how to make them faster (some people waited for 20 minutes for a bun). That’s what’s cool about the market; there is this great public that shows up willing to wait a bit longer for something. Almost all the vendors at this market sold out of what they brought; the hot vendors seemed to be the most popular.

The SF Underground Market is a pretty straightforward idea. It was created as venue for all those of us who make stuff. Maybe its jam, maybe its pulled pork sandwiches, maybe its. It’s a space for those of us without the resources to jump through the increasing maze of regulatory hoops that have been imposed on food producers in this great city.  I've given a lot on thought to why so many people come to these markets. Not that I'm complaining, any organizer loves to see people lining up for their event, but people throw food events all the time without this kind of draw.

I think people love the idea of coming out to support people like them.  People who love to make food, have been making it for years, but have never, for whatever reason, been able to make that leap to selling it.  The vendors at my market don't have business licenses or commercial kitchens.  Many of them are 9-5'ers who have had an interest in starting a small business for years, but need a jumpstart to get it going.  Anyone can be a vendor at the SF Underground Market, all you need is a skill and focus.

If you want to be a vendor at the next market, go to http://foragesf.com/market/vendors/faq/

Uncategorized

SF Underground Farmers Market is Back

The market is back! We found a space, booked some music, got some vendors, got some workshops going...got some wild boar to cook....If you want to check out the full post, or sign up for our email list, please click here.

When: Thursday Jan 28th from 5-11pm

Where:199 Capp st. at 17th, San Francisco

How Much: Free -  sign up on our list

Here is a full list of the vendors that are going to be at the market:

Erin Murry - sauerkraut
The Girl From Empanada - Fresh Empanadas
Indu Kline -Ghee and other Weston A Price foods
Rana Chang (House Kombucha) -kombucha
Olivia (little cake peddler)-Cupcakes
Margaret Wong-Wild mushroom spreads
Jeff tidwell-kraut
Katherine Kirby - Granola
Patricia- home grown veggies
Jessica (golden crust)- Pies Pies Pies
Will Schrom - sarasparilla
Jana Blankenship - soaps and salves
Shakirah (Slow Jams) - Jams
Tanya-lasagna
Amber-dosas
Arianna Montmayer - Cupcakes
Susan Marjanovic- Raw chocolate
Pearl's Kitchen-corned beef sandwiches
Lane Kennedy-kettle corn
Heartbaker- amazing desserts
Julia Abbassi-bread
Soul Cocina- mexican food
Becky Spencer-Jams
John Farais-Acorn fudge
Stephanie Rosenbaum - Bread and jam
Kate Thompson and Christine Waring - Granola
Robin Jolin-Kombucha
poster by philip clark phclark@gmail.com