Hot in Food

Upgrade your Bacon Posted on 8 Aug 12:21 , 0 comments

by Molly Bradley

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Some bacon novelties to put a new spin on a solid favorite

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that everything is better when you add bacon. But it’s actually not always necessarily good idea to just cook up some bacon and throw it on an existing meal that’s complete in its own right.

So how to best live the dream and get bacon into as many meals as possible? We have a few bacon-laden products that are not only insanely delicious, but brilliant and delightfully unusual in the way they incorporate bacon.

  1. Bacon Marmalade

Eat This, a foodmaker in Erwinna, PA, clearly had a eureka moment in figuring out how to get bacon into one of the least likely condiments: marmalade. Combined with balsamic-caramelized onion, orange, garlic and thyme, this bacon marmalade becomes the ideal morning spread. Talk about breakfast of champions.

  1. Bacon Bourbon Maple Caramels

Just think about that for a second: Bacon. Bourbon. Maple. Caramels. There’s not much else to say, except that La Petite Occasion, the Mahopac, NY-based foodmaker, makes the softest, most satisfying caramels — made even more satisfying by that smoky bacon taste. These make an amazing gift for bacon-loving friends and family — or just a gift to your bacon-loving self.

  1. Nonna’s Vegan Amatriciana with Eggplant Bacon

Amatriciana sauce, in its original form, is a simple Italian classic: tomatoes, onion, red pepper, and pancetta or prosciutto. It’s bright, rich, and comforting in all the right ways, especially over a big bowl of your favorite pasta — which is why it’s a crying shame that the experience is one vegetarians don’t get to partake in.

Which leads us to City Saucery, based in New York. They make a delectable, totally vegan amatriciana sauce that incorporates eggplant and a smoky flavor that gives the sauce the perfect hearty kick that meat would otherwise give it. Vegetarians and vegans, you’re actually not missing anything: this sauce is absolute perfection.

  1. Beer Biscuits with Bacon Dog Treats

While you’ve been thinking about how much you love bacon, you’ve been neglecting someone else who loves bacon: your dog. Let your pup participate in baconpalooza with Portland Pet Food Company’s biscuits made from spent grains from beer production at breweries around Portland.

So one of these nights, crack open a beer, make something with bacon, and treat your pup to the very same. Enjoy!

 


Baguette-off: Bakeri vs. She Wolf Posted on 8 Aug 12:18 , 0 comments

by Molly Bradley

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Two insanely perfect baguettes compete for the title of Best Baguette. Are you on the edge of your seat?

[to add @ end: Foodlyn products to put on bread]

She Wolf Bakery

She Wolf started out providing bread for a restaurant called Roman’s, but its reputation got out, and soon it was providing bread to some of the best restaurants in Brooklyn. They now sell their bread at farmers’ markets in both Brooklyn and Manhattan. While they bake their bread in a space in Greenpoint, they don’t have an independent storefront — you’ll have to catch them at a market or enjoy their bread with other delicious offerings from Marlow & Sons or Reynard.

She Wolf’s baguette was written up by Grub Street in 2016 as one of New York City’s “absolute best,” so we had to see for ourselves. We picked up a baguette to enjoy on its own, with some butter and cheese, and as a sandwich, to see where this baguette shines.

The baguette:

The She Wolf baguette is slightly shorter than your standard baguette, a little smaller in diameter, and darker in color. When you break off a piece, it’s immediately clear that it isn’t as soft as your typical baguette. But when you bite into it, the taste is far more substantial and superior to classic baguettes: the bread is made with [whole wheat flour?], so it tastes much nuttier and more like a boule. It’s a really good taste.

The crust of the baguette feels more uniform with its interior and less like the thin, crispy shell of a traditional one. This makes sense, given its density and the fact that it’s not made with pure white flour.

With a spread:

The taste of the baguette is pronounced enough that it’s not just a vehicle for whatever you put on it: it’s a co-star. This ends up being a really great thing. The nuttiness supplemented the taste of butter and cheese without distracting from them.

As a sandwich:

As a sandwich, the flavor of the bread would make for a great addition to the more core ingredients — if it weren’t for the fact that the texture is just a little too hard to bite through without smushing the contents of the sandwich out the sides. It’s also such a mouthful that it’s hard to taste the other ingredients while you’re breaking down the bread with your teeth. As much as we love this bread, we can’t give it full points as a sandwich baguette.

Conclusion:

While She Wolf’s baguette conform to what you might want from a traditional one, it’s a great-tasting and hearty bread that’ll suit other needs.

Bakeri

Bakeri opened in 2009 as a distinctly European-style bakery, serving all kinds of breads, pastries, and café fare at its three different locations (East Village, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint).

It excels at what it does, offering delicate but filling European classics with a slightly modern twist. If you sit down for breakfast or lunch, you can order one of a variety of familiar tartines — a plate of two hearty slabs of bread served with toppings such as hard-boiled egg and roasted cherry tomatoes or the classic butter and jam or nutella — but you’ll be topping the bread with egg or spreading it with butter yourself, to taste. It’s an indulgent but down-to-earth experience — and that’s just their menu.

The real highlight of Bakeri are their breads and pastries. The bread they serve with the tartines and sandwiches are all perfect for the job: they’re soft but sturdy and taste as home-baked as it gets. If you buy a boule or a baguette, you’ll be taking home an enviably, perfectly shaped treat that won’t last you long.

We’d heard rave reviews of Bakeri’s baguettes too, so we decided to pit them against She Wolf’s in this baguette-off.

The baguette:

Bakeri’s baguette is maybe a hair bigger than She Wolf’s, but in all other ways looks much more like a classic Baguette: it’s light orange in color, with a perfect shallow split along its length.

Tearing off a piece and biting into it, too, is a decidedly more baguette-like experience: the crumb is much lighter than She Wolf’s, and the crust achieves something much closer to an outer shell — not quite as flaky as a traditional baguette, but satisfyingly authentic.

With a spread:

This is the perfect baguette to rip a hunk off of and drag through soft butter or cheese. It’s definitely much more of a vehicle than She Wolf’s baguette, with its more definitive flavor, but Bakeri’s baguette achieves that dual crisp-fluffiness, thanks to the distinct textures of the crust and the crumb, to accompany a smooth spread.

As a sandwich:

Definitely the better sandwich baguette. It’s less hard to both bite into and chew, and the milder taste would play much better with all kinds of ingredients.

Conclusion:

In the baguette contest, Bakeri wins, hands-down. But at the end of the day, this baguette and She Wolf’s are totally different beasts.


Best Dog Treats? Posted on 8 Aug 12:17 , 0 comments

by Molly Bradley

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Learn what foods and treats leave your dog both butt-wagging happy and feeling good inside, too.

If you have a dog, you probably love to treat them well — which means, naturally, giving them treats. You know who loves that even more? Your dog.

But outside regular dry-food meals, feeding your dog isn’t always straightforward. A lot of biscuit brands out there add a lot of heft in the calorie department, so your dog winds up taking in way more than is ideal for his diet. Or, despite the fact that you’ve been feeding your dog pieces of your food you’re preparing or your leftovers, you suddenly read that even things as innocuous as grapes, raisins, and all kinds of seeds and nuts are toxic for her. Not to mention that the oldest dog treat — a plain old bone — is actually not necessarily good for your dog, since if she accidentally swallows any pieces, it could cause intestinal problems.

So how should you be treating your dog? Certain natural foods are a safe bet: try giving your dog small pieces of banana, apple, berries, or watermelon; or on the veggie side, try small amounts of broccoli, brussel sprouts, celery, cucumber, and green beans. You can also see if they like cooked potato or sweet potato. Steer clear of cherries, avocado, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.

In terms of store-bought dog treats, first, opt for ones that aren’t rock-hard: you don’t want treats to put any stress on your dog’s teeth. Your dog may also have some additional food sensitivities particular to him, so you’ll want to take a close look at the ingredients listed on the packaging.

Even if your dog doesn’t have specific allergies or sensitivities, it’s always best to feed him treats that are as neutral and easy on the belly as possible. Portland Pet Food Company, a Portland-based foodmaker, is  great example: it uses spent grains from beer production in breweries around Portland to simultaneously reduce waste and feed real food to dogs. (And in case you’re skeptical, there’s no alcohol involved in the treats themselves!) Their biscuits contain zero preservatives, GMOs, artificial coloring, or any other artificial ingredients that you’d steer clear of in your own food.

[feature products]

On top of the variety of flavors they offer — their original flavor, bacon, and pumpkin — they make grain- and gluten-free treats using gluten-free flour, garbanzo flour, and eggs.

[feature products]

There are a ton of wonderful products out there that let you feed real, nutritious, and safe foods to your dogs. If you’re ever in doubt, ask your vet for recommendations. In the meantime, please give your dog a scratch behind the ears for us. (We hear he’s been a very good boy.)


Different Things to do with Apples this Fall Posted on 8 Aug 12:12 , 0 comments

by Molly Bradley

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When you’re up to your ears in fruit after a day of apple-picking, you’ve gotta get more creative than pie. Here are some fresh ideas for a new season.

Fall means apple-picking season, which is always followed by sick-of-apples season. Instead of exhausting such a beautiful fruit with the delicious but overplayed staples — apple pie, baked apples, plain old cider — why not try something new? It’s 2017. Let’s liven things up a little.

  1. Forget caramel apples: you haven’t lived until you’ve made a caramel-apple cake. This recipe by Liz Horne, of the blog Sweet Things by Lizzie, makes more the most delectable, indulgent apple confection we’ve ever had.
  1. Do savory apples. So often, we use apples to bake, to toss into fruit salad, or to eat as a little natural kick of sweetness. But there are so many amazing savory uses for apples that give a dish a whole new flavor.

Try the flavor in this apple brandy mustard by Victoria Amory. The sweetness of apple and brown sugar perfectly balances the tanginess of mustardseed to create a refreshing and mouth-watering addition to cheese and crackers, sandwiches, or even salad dressings.

  1. Sure, you’ve had apple cider, and you’ve even had it spiked. But with the addition of maple, another staple fall flavor, and just the right bourbon, you’re on a new playing field. Try this recipe for an apple maple bourbon cocktail, and you’ll never go back to cider.
  1. For another twist on traditional cider, try pairing it with classic chai flavors. It’s both of your favorite fall drinks in one.
  1. Instead of filling linzer cookies with the traditional raspberry filling, try apple conserves or apple butter. With the butteriness of the cookies and the sweet, oozing fruit inside, they’re the perfect, bite-sized fall treat.

Maple Syrup vs. Maple Cream Posted on 8 Aug 06:17 , 0 comments

by Molly Bradley

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Mainly: what even is maple cream?

The first time I heard the words “maple cream,” I knew two things: one, that I had no idea what it was; and two, that I wanted to eat it. 

Despite the name’s appeal, I didn’t get a chance to try it until much later, and even once I had, it took me a while to figure out what, exactly, it was and how it was made. For a while I assumed it was another maple product derived from maple trees, but in some totally different way from the way maple syrup was obtained. Maybe it came out that way in colder climes, or maybe there was some special way you coaxed it from the tree.

Turns out the truth is a lot simpler, but just as magical as my naive notions. Maple cream is maple syrup that has undergone a delicious transmogrification. If you take syrup and heat it to a certain point, it becomes cream.

If you’ve ever made candy and heated something to the “soft-ball stage,” you’ll be familiar with the process. If not, all you need to know is that when you heat a sugar solution, the way the mixture will end up when it’s cool depends on the highest temperature it reaches while it’s cooking.

By heating maple syrup (with a touch of butter or cream) to precisely 235°F (yes, precisely! Sugar’s a finnicky friend) and letting it cool, you wind up with a gorgeous, smooth, satisfying maple cream. It really is like magic.

Chances are, though, you neither want go through the process of making it yourself, nor risk a substantial amount of maple syrup. Even with a candy thermometer, the kind of precision required can be daunting. But we’re lucky to know a few really quality confection chefs who make some of the most excellent maple creams we’ve ever tasted: Tonewood, based in Waitsfield, Vermont, makes the smoothest, sweetest, most intensely maple cream.

 


Tonewood's Maple Cream


We enjoy maple cream in a bunch of different ways:

  • spread on a hot English muffin in the morning,
  • served with soft cheeses and crackers,
  • stirred into oatmeal,
  • as a frosting for sweet breads (not to be confused with sweetbreads), like pumpkin or zucchini bread,
  • as an ingredient in a sauce for pasta or meat,

and finally, the best possible way:

  • right off the spoon.

The Best Cookies in....Greenpoint, Brooklyn Posted on 8 Aug 06:15 , 0 comments

by Molly Bradley

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If you’re a Brooklynite with a sweet tooth, get yourself to the neighborhood, stat.

When you’re craving cookies, there’s nothing to be done but succumb. Cookies are comforting, with their buttery taste and cakey texture, and you usually don’t have to go way out of your way to get one that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

But “a cookie” is a far cry from “the best cookies” in wherever you happen to be, and no one should have to settle for a mediocre cookie when there are outstanding ones close at hand.

We’ll cover the best cookies in the different boroughs in New York City, throughout San Francisco, and hopefully in other cities as we can get to them. But first, we’re starting local, with the best three cookies in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Casa Cookie from Archestratus

This is the chocolate chip cookie unlike you’ve ever seen it before, and the reasons why are made known to you upfront, where the ingredients are displayed on the cookie’s label in the display case: the dough involves almond paste and pine nuts.

The cookie is wide in diameter, but not tall: it’s the ideal spread for a chocolate chip cookie, really.

The chocolate chunks are honest-to-God chunks, and they’re dark but sweet — and always melty, even when you come in for a cookie in the wintertime. In fact, the core of the cookie always seems perfectly melty: a result of the fact that the cookie is just slightly underbaked in the middle, but principally the fact that almond paste is the secret star.

The overall result? An incredibly pleasing softness to sink your teeth in, with firmer, browned edges that taste nutty and caramelized. We will never stop coming back for this cookie.

Chocolate Chip Cookie from Ovenly

There is no choosing a favorite baked good from Ovenly. It’s not possible. There are too many things to choose from, and all of them are good. From tall iced cakes to soft, sweet breads; from [something] to plain old chocolate chip cookies: it’s all immaculate.

The most impressive thing about Ovenly is that their chocolate chip cookie actually doesn’t remotely qualify for the term “plain old.” Chocolate chip cookies are a classic, but Ovenly’s are unconventionally good.

The winning qualities, in our book, of their CCC is its texture, somewhere between fluffy and chewy; the chocolate chips it uses, which are nothing short of heavenly; and the fact that salt plays a noticeable but not overpowering role. Salt, butter, chocolate: there’s nothing better. 

Peanut Butter Cookie from Ovenly

Salt is also the key to Ovenly’s peanut butter cookie’s outstanding success. The cookie itself doesn’t look particularly impressive: it’s on the small side, though puffed tall, and it’s a uniform dark orange in color.

But bite into it: it’s at once firm and soft, at once chewy and dissolving in your mouth, and, most importantly, it tastes buttery and cookielike without actually tasting especially sweet. Finally, the kick of salt is what makes this one worth coming back for.


Weird Ways to Use Bitters Posted on 8 Aug 04:46 , 0 comments

by Molly Bradley

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We all have a bottle of bitters (or two) gathering dust on the shelf. Here are some things to do with them that don’t involve alcohol.

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If you own bitters, chances are the last time — and the only times — you use them are when you bust out your cocktail paraphernalia. What if we told you that not only constitutes severe neglect of good bitters, but that that’s the least interesting way to use them? 

Our call to action: start using bitters in everything. Food, non-alcoholic drinks, desserts — everything.

Because bitters are, well, bitter, they balances out the other ingredients in an otherwise one-dimensional recipe. They can add an accent to the sugar in sweet things, cut through the creaminess of a sauce, or add a surprise to a predictable dish.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy bitters is in coffee. Hella Company makes incredibly delicious bitters that they highly recommend incorporating into your morning jolt (as do we).

But here are a bunch of other ways to use bitters of all different kinds. Bear in mind that for each of these suggestions, you’re going to want to use a pretty tiny amount of bitters — think about how in cocktails you’re only ever advised to add a couple shakes. Which is also the good news about bitters: if you buy some, you’ll be using that bottle for a long time, because they go a long way.

  1. Add bitters to seltzer water.

Fruit-flavored seltzers will never go out of style, but you’re neither confined to, nor obliged to shell out for, LaCroix every day of summer. Buy the plain, unflavored stuff in bulk to keep in your fridge, and then add whatever flavor you’re feeling or whatever you have on hand: citrus bitters will be most like your favorite flavored seltzer brands but with the upside of a much more interesting flavor, and the fact that you can add bitters to taste. Like we said, bitters are strong, but if you like a big punch of flavor, you can go hard.

A more interesting twist, though, is to add more herbaceous or unexpected bitters flavors to your seltzer. Celery bitters is one of the best ways to dress up your drink: it’s refreshing, tangy, and reminiscent of a gin and tonic that doesn’t knock you off your feet.

  1. Spice-flavored bitters in baked goods.

There are all kinds of bitters out there, and you may be ignoring some of the more delicious ones because you don’t make any cocktails that incorporate them. But if you’ve been wanting to try out spiced bitters, chocolate bitters, or spiced cherry bitters, This is a good place to start.

If you’re baking something that calls for vanilla or almond extract, you can replace it with bitters. You’ll probably want to halve the amount called for if you’re using bitters, though; if in the end it doesn’t taste strong enough, you can always up it to a quantity that tastes good to you.

You can also play with bitters in recipes that don’t necessarily call for extracts. Add citrus bitters to a lemon or angel cake, or add bitters to pie filling! Get creative. Make something delicious.

  1. Add bitters to a milkshake, float, or ice cream.

We particularly recommend chocolate bitters in a good old chocolate milkshake, cherry bitters in a soda float, and, honestly, classic Angostura right over the best-quality vanilla ice cream you can find. Simple as that.

  1. Add bitters to a vinaigrette.

Salad dressings are typically composed of the same core components: an oil (for example, olive), an acid (usually vinegar), a binder (such as mustard), and then additional flavorings: salt and pepper; grated lemon rind; onion — whatever you please.

So why not incorporate bitters? They’ll act like both an acid and a flavoring, cutting through the smooth oil and lending your vinaigrette a punchy taste.

  1. Incorporate into cake icing.

All we’re saying is, we’ve heard of a recipe that incorporates angostura bitters into a cream cheese icing. It’s a lot like adding bitters to ice cream, in that you’re punching up something both creamy and sweet with a tangy taste. The possibilities are endless.


Why Food Gifts are the Best Gifts Posted on 8 Aug 04:45 , 0 comments

by Molly Bradley

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There’s a reason every holiday has its own kind of food.

Choosing the perfect gift: one of life’s greatest and most mundane challenges. It should be easy, especially if you’re gifting someone you know. How hard can it be? Surely you know their general interests — art, history, golf — and can get them something a propos. Or, at the very least, you know their line of work, and can get them something useful — a supply of nice notebooks, a kitchen knife, a suit — right?

But what usually winds up happening is that you get them the go-to gift that corresponds to the one thing you know best about them over and over and over again. Even your fashion-forward friends only need so many earrings/cufflinks/ties/socks/pens.

So, barring instances where your friends are drawing up lists or providing hints, one of the best gift ideas? Food. Here’s why:

  • Everyone eats.
  • People don’t usually buy themselves extravagant but non-vital things like fancy condiments, nice chocolates, or special-occasion spices, but they always like them.
  • There’s something uniquely caring and nourishing about feeding a loved one (or even just a liked one).
  • You might turn them on to an ingredient, foodmaker, or entire food group that they get really into.
  • A food gift will never sit unused on a shelf.

So here are a few outstanding food-gift ideas that’ll suit everyone from the picky eaters to the foodies alike:

  • Raspberry Truffles with Beetroot Infusion

Part of the beauty of these chocolates is that they sound like they should taste really odd, but in reality, they taste heavenly and perfect. On top of that, you get to boast that they’re good for you. They’ll blow the mind of any chocolate junkie friend and please any health food nut in the family.

  • Salted Dark Chocolate Caramels

Salt is an extremely underrated component of desserts. It’s the difference between a regular chocolate chip cookie and an award-winning one, between a staple ice cream flavor and a sensational one, between eating one square of chocolate for dessert and vanishing the entire bar before you’re even aware of what’s happening.

If you have friends who like chocolate, they will be endlessly grateful for this gift. And if you have friends who like chocolate but who have never tried salted dark chocolate, you should order these immediately as gifts for both those friends and for yourself.

  • Cinnamon Maca Almond Butter

We understand that there are nut butter purists in the world, who swear by Jif or Skippy and will never stray. But even those people are likely to be swayed by not just a stellar almond butter, but this cinnamon maca almond butter.

The ingredients are unbelievably simple — just almonds, red maca, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and vanilla — but there is so much flavor in this product, it’s hard to believe it’s handmade. They soak their almonds in pink Himalayan salt before dehydrating and grinding them, which makes all the difference. That, plus the butterscotchiness of maca, makes for a uniquely smooth, rich flavor that’s incredible on toast, sandwiches, mixed into oatmeal, or, ideally, eaten right off the spoon.

  • My Mom’s Mole

Everyone loves mole, but no one wants to take on the Herculean task of making it. A typical mole recipe requires about three days of preparation, in total, and while it’s often worth it, it doesn’t make for a readily enjoyable meal.

Which is why My Mom’s Mole is a blessing incarnate on this earth. Its founder, Cesario Ruiz, wanted to bring the flavor of his mother’s homemade mole with him from Mexico to the US — for his own sake as much as for ours. And there’s a reason it’s one of our award-winning products: we’d venture to say that his mole not just lives up to a craving for mole, but outshines any homemade effort.

  • Sourwood Covered Honeycomb

This honey won the 2017 Good Food Award, and with good cause: it’s one of the country’s most delicious and distinctive honeys, produced in the mountains of northern Georgia from the Sourwood Tree. It’s buttery, caramel-y, and in the jar of honey comes an actual, edible honeycomb, which is both delish and makes for a great garnish. This honey makes a wonderful gift that we’re honored to feature on Foodlyn, and would ourselves be honored to receive. (Ahem.)


One Food Incubator Helps Bring About Tamale Success Posted on 7 Aug 17:50 , 0 comments

by Nicole Wong

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When Alicia Villanueva first arrived in the Bay Area in 2000, she dreamed of sharing the cuisine of her native Mexico with the communities in her new home. Having grown up making tamales with her grandmother and mother, she set out to make and sell this familiar comfort food and in the process provide for her husband and three kids. After a day of cleaning houses or caring for the disabled, she would return to her home kitchen in Berkeley and cook tamales at night, sometimes producing more than 500 in a single week. A natural entrepreneur, she boldly went door to door selling her tamales to churches, beauty shops, and body shops. However, after a week of long nights hustling to produce and sell her tamales, she ended up with only $25 left over to pay her bills.

Undiscouraged, Alicia held onto her dream. After seeing a brochure for the Women’s Initiative, a nonprofit that offered a year-long business course for aspiring entrepreneurs, she signed up and commuted to Oakland to learn about how to create a financially viable business. She came out of the course with a formal business plan and the name of a local food business incubator, La Cocina, to look into. After applying to La Cocina’s incubator program with a proposal for a tamale cart, she was accepted in June of 2010. From then on, the real work, and according to Alicia, the “real dream” began.

La Cocina was one of the crucial ingredients early on that helped her business, Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas, take off. La Cocina is a San Francisco-based nonprofit food business incubator that offers kitchen space, business know-how, and a network to help low-income immigrant women and women of color establish their food businesses. Alicia came in with the guts, gusto, and grit necessary to establish her food business, but La Cocina provided her with key resources to weather the common challenges that face many first-time food entrepreneurs.  

First, the cost to rent commercial kitchen space can be prohibitively high and prevent many female entrepreneurs from getting their businesses off the ground. The hourly market rate to rent kitchen space can be as expensive as $45, and Forage Kitchen, an incubator in Oakland, offers kitchen space at $25/hour for a 40 hour/month commitment. On the other hand, La Cocina offers kitchen space at $13/hour, which rises as entrepreneurs grow their business.  

Beyond offering commercial kitchen space, La Cocina also provides entrepreneurs with business expertise and technical assistance. Alicia explained, “When you want to do a business and you don’t have too much knowledge, you make plans but not really professional plans when you are by yourself... [La Cocina] gives you everything but you have to work hard and follow the advice they give because if not, it’s not possible. [It takes] a lot of work.” All La Cocina clients begin with an intensive 8-month pre-incubation phase where they develop the nuts and bolts of their business. Entrepreneurs receive technical assistance from a group of pro-bono volunteers to guide them through everything from branding to website design. They also learn about the financial and operational sides of running a business, including practical skills like scaling up production, managing permits, and accurately pricing their product.

Furthermore, food incubators like La Cocina offer their entrepreneurs a built-in business community. Following the first eight months of pre-incubation, entrepreneurs like Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas enter into the incubation phase during which La Cocina helps them build market opportunities to place their businesses on the map. This may look like introducing their food at farmer’s markets or joining La Cocina’s extensive catering program. By participating in an incubator program like La Cocina, retail stores are also more likely to make room for entrepreneurs on their shelves.

Not long after Alicia joined La Cocina in 2010, her business made its grand debut at the 2010 San Francisco Street Food Festival where she sold close to 1,500 tamales. The following year, she officially started selling her tamales out of a tamale cart at Justin Herman Plaza in Oakland. She continued to grow her business through sales at large festivals like Outside Lands and catering.

According to La Cocina Communications Director Jessica Mataka, “La Cocina is a stepping stone for businesses.” After a period that typically lasts five years, La Cocina participants graduate from the incubator program to start their own restaurant or produce food in their own facility. It has now been more than a year since Alicia transitioned out of La Cocina to her own 6,000 square foot space in Hayward to join the other 22 La Cocina graduates who also have opened brick and mortar locations. Alicia tells me that it brings her great joy just to drive to her Hayward facility. She now has 16 employees, makes 40,000 tamales/month, manages 10 catering accounts, and sells her tamales at 15 Whole Foods locations.

Perhaps what makes La Cocina so powerful is that it helps entrepreneurs cultivate economic self-sufficiency and create opportunity for others. When Alicia first started making tamales, any profit she made went toward expenses like rent and she was unable to build any savings. Now, her business brings in enough earnings so she can pay 16 staff members, cover her family’s financial needs, and re-invest profit back into her business. She has even begun to save money in the hopes of one day purchasing a house for her family.

Despite her success, it is not lost on Alicia how many people helped make her business what it is today. For instance, Alicia’s husband Pedro oversees deliveries while her son Pedro junior manages the company’s orders and administration. Furthermore, Alicia is grateful to La Cocina for guiding her business through its earliest phases. Although Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas has officially moved out from the La Cocina kitchen, Alicia still feels like she can call on them for help. At age 57, Alicia continues to dream. She hopes to make her tamales accessible across the globe, and, once the business is firmly on its feet, give back to her community.

Photos reprinted with the permission of Alicia's Tamales Los Mayas


The Slow Food Movement Posted on 6 Aug 11:17 , 0 comments

In today’s world the success of most companies, no matter what their service or product, depends on the speed and convenience at which they operate. Our internet must never falter, text messages must always send and transportation better be on time. The food industry is no exception to this 21st century rule. Many restaurants today operate in an industry named after this modern phenomenon, the industry of “fast food”. Ordering food for delivery, tracking its progress online and then rating the experience is what so many services now stake their reputation on. These and so many other features are aimed at delivering us, the consumer, a better experience - but at what cost? What is it that we are losing as our culture slowly succumbs to the temptations of speed? These are questions that Slow Food USA has been asking for 30 years since its movement’s birth in Italy and they work to answer these problems with definitive solutions. In the movement’s manifesto, Slow Food asserts that going forward we must abandon our blind pursuit of speed in order to remember and rediscover the importance of GOOD, CLEAN and FAIR food. From these three founding principles, Slow Food is reminding us what today’s food has lost by proclaiming what we must now seek to achieve. It is far time that food again be nutritious and provide each of us with the fuel needed to lead healthy, happy lives. Far time that the production of our food nourishes and strengthens our planet. And far time that food access is equitable and collaborative. 


It is these ideals that have led Foodlyn to support and become a member of Slow Foods USA. We stand with this organization and their movement in the fight to improve all-things food in our 21st century world. As more and more people today become aware and concerned with the state of this industry, consumers are using their wallets as a way to express their desire for change. Farmer’s Markets are sprouting up in new places and an attention to local, organic food is on the rise. We at Foodlyn are working to elevate and empower small food makers across the country who produce their food with the inspired mentality that Slow Foods is working to expand into every corner of this world. We thank you Slow Food for the invaluable work you are doing in pursuit of a healthier, happier and more equitable future.

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