Meet our artisans
Italian-born Angelo Garro, the maker of Omnivore Salt, is a blacksmith by trade. By passion, he is a cook, hunter, and lover of food. His grandmother taught him the recipe for his salt when he was a young boy in Sicily, insisting that the right mixture of spices with salt helps enhance the natural flavor in food. After giving his salt away for years to friends - many of whom are chefs, restaurateurs and artists, and include Michael Pollan and Alice Waters - they finally convinced him to share it with food lovers everywhere. In addition to Omnivore Salt, he makes an Omnivore Sauce, a savory condiment made with organic ingredients from California.
Bette’s Oceanview Diner first opened its doors in 1982—founded by Bette and Manfred Kroening—and it seems there's been a line outside the door ever since. Located in Berkeley, California, they regularly draw an eclectic crowd of artists, students, local residents, and increasingly tourists, where they serve everything from farm-style breakfasts to diner-staples and an assortment of confections, all made from scratch with fresh and local ingredients. Their scone and pancake mixes are made with the exact same ingredients as the ones served at the diner. Enjoy!
Honey has been with the Snyders family since 1964, when Bill Snyders’ father began cultivating bees in La Honda, establishing a philosophy of natural pollination and minimal processing that still remains essential to the family craft. Bees are sensitive creatures, and their honey acutely reflects—in both nutrient content and flavor—the environment it was produced in. Bill and his wife Ann maintain undeveloped land in the Crystal Springs Reservoir watershed, treating their bees to the nectar and pollen of a variety of wildflowers native to the Mediterranean climate of the San Francisco Bay Area. The result is delicious.
Eric Gower founded Breakaway Matcha in 2010 to make the exquisite flavors and extraordinary health benefits of hyper-premium matcha easily accessible in the West. He sources the highest quality Japanese tea varietals and blends them to maximize the five key characteristics of matcha: stunning color, robust acid structure, intense umami, enduring finish and frothability. Then, he encourages us to bring matcha from the elaborate tea ceremonies practiced by Japan's nobility to our modern lives. He reminds us that matcha was popularized in Japan by 12th century Buddhist monks who simply wanted to stay alert during long meditations and appreciated its health benefits.
After earning a degree from UC Berkeley in modern Japanese literature, Eric left for Japan where he spent 15 years cultivating an obsession with Japanese cuisine. He developed his "breakaway" methodology, where he combines traditional Japanese ingredients with fuss-free cooking techniques. Eric has authored four cookbooks.
CC Made's Cassandra Chen didn't set out to be a candy maker. Born in Shanghai and educated at UC Davis, she worked on the foreign exchange trading floor for Bank of America before embarking on her candy-making career. Once she got a taste of making pastries at Jardiniere, she knew she'd found her calling. When she couldn't find caramels in the quality she wanted, she decide to make her own. Avoiding corn syrup entirely, CC Made caramel candies are hand-crafted from the highest quality locally-sourced and gourmet ingredients. In addition to caramels, Berkeley-based CC Made produces caramel popcorn and caramel sauce.
Central Coast Creamery was founded by cheese-maker Reggie Jones in Paso Robles in 2008. He takes advantage of California’s fresh, organic milk, sourcing from local, hormone-free cows and goats to produce blended, aged cheeses in small batches with an extraordinary attention to detail. These hand-made cheeses honor traditional methods, even as they break from them with proprietary manufacturing processes, resulting in a series of uniquely American cheese blends and flavors. Central Coast Creamery has won multiple “Best in Class” awards, including from the World Cheese Contest in Madison, Wisconsin. Guests always rave about this cheese when we serve it.
Christine Falatico Frey grew up in Orange County, California, but she often visited her Nana Julie in Utica, New York, where the smells from the kitchen included homemade Italian sausage, eggplant parmigiana, lasagne, and her absolute favorite, Butterhorn Cookies. She would sit on the kitchen counter watching the process while her Nana said, "You have to watch me, or you won't learn how to make them!"
Apparently, Christine - aka CICi - paid very close attention, because the butterhorns she makes and sells in San Francisco are filled with the attention to detail that comes from love and experience, rather than studiously following a recipe.
As a stay-at-home mom, Cici perfected her butterhorns for all the family and friends who gathered frequently around her table. After several years of keeping the secret to herself, she decided to share them with the rest of us. We will be forever grateful. Her Italian Butterhorns are hand-rolled from a light buttery dough, and filled with cinnamon, sugar and walnuts. The rolling technique she has perfected keeps the cookie center soft and caramelized during baking while the outer shell turns a flaky golden brown.
You'll love these with morning coffee, as an afternoon snack, or as a delightful dessert to share with dinner guests.
Grand Master Chocolatier, Elyce Zahn, founded Coco Tutti in 2010 with a focus on truffles that pair with wines. Elyce's truffles are stunning and scrumptious!
Samantha McGinnis made her first batch of toffee in high school Home Economics class, just before Christmas break. Pleased with the result, she decided to make more and give it out as gifts to friends, family, and her fellow Mustangs at Oakdale High School in Oakdale, California, a city that goes by the slogan, "Cowboy Capital of the World."
While managing a restaurant/kitchen together for four years, Samantha and her husband Daniel became extremely adept at creating food in perfect bites, layering the flavors so the taste buds process each portion. Naturally, toffee became the perfect venue for their creativity, and they return to it time and again to play with new flavors and new names. They chose the name Cowboy Toffee Company to pay homage to their hometown, and their signature flavor, The Mustang Toffee, is named for Samantha's high school mascot.
Fra'Mani was founded in Berkeley in 2006 by Paul Bertolli, celebrated California chef and culinary writer, to produce premium cured meats in the famous tradition of Italian artisans (and of Bertolli's grandfather, a salumiere whose prosciutto and soppressata vicentina served as early inspirations for a career in gourmet cuisine).
Fra'Mani's pork originates from small family farms, where pigs are fed a vegetarian diet, given no antibiotics, and are allowed plenty of outdoor space to socialize. In a state of the art production facility that combines the traditions of Italian curing practices with the enormous possibility of modern technology, the meat is finely cut and ground to achieve the proper ratio between lean and fat, and then carefully mixed with a measured amount of seasonings, spices, and wine to produce the appropriate flavor balance. Next, hand-wrapped sausages are hung to ferment and dry in a dynamically ventilated cellar, where they develop a distinctive aroma, the result of biodynamic processes that have been observed and perfected in Italian cuisine for over two millennia. As the meats are aged to finish, the flavors of the sausage mellow and complement the added seasonings.
Paul Bertolli and Fra'Mani have won several Good Food Awards and have been featured in national magazines, including Food & Wine. We always have their salamis on hand for impromptu picnics and cocktail parties!
Todd and Catherine Benson founded Good Faith Farm in 2006, shortly after settling into Flournoy in the northern Sacramento Valley. They had no plans for saving century-old olive groves, or for getting into olives at all, but when they sampled packaged olives produced in the area, they were saddened by the widespread practices of heat-canning and chemical cooking with lye to accelerate fermentation. These methods are fast, but they also destroy the enzymes and amino acids that have made olives revered for their healthy properties throughout human history. To make matters worse, many old groves are at risk of being converted into higher yield, lower quality varietals by industrial farms.
Todd and Catherine saw these challenges, and decided to get into the olive business to revive traditional olive growing and curing practices. They leased about 16 acres of old, organic Sevillano groves (these were organic before there was a word for it), and made agreements to purchase Kalamatas and Lucques from organic and transitional organic growers. Then they embraced the slow process of fermentation, curing olives for six to eighteen months in a brine solution composed of sea salts from Northern California and salt from ancient sea beds in Utah.The extra time is well worth it, producing olives with a variety of complex, earthy flavors, and a crisp texture.
Mindy Fong left a career in architectural design to become a chocolatier after she fell in love with dark chocolate during her pregnancy with her daughter. Based in San Francisco, she melds flavors from Asia and the Pacific islands with those of the West to create distinctive treats. Chocolate covered mango - yum! Black pepper and lemongrass - exquisite!
June Taylor has been making fruit preserves in Berkeley, California since the late 1980s. June's process begins with sourcing the highest quality of organic, local fruits, followed by meticulous sorting. June's preserves are cooked in small batches in pots that yield six to eight jars, with as little added organic sugar as possible, and no commercial pectin. Reviving the traditional art of fruit confectionery, she candies all the citrus peel not used in her marmalades. She has been featured in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal food sections and has cooked on the Martha Stewart show.
When the economy tanked in 2008 in San Francisco, Scott Lucas and Cathy Storfer decided to abandon their longtime careers and travel. Four months and four continents later, on an African beach scented with spices from the nearby Moroccan market, they decided to launch a business together, selling unique products inspired by the flavors they discovered on their travels. They enlisted their old friend Daniel Capra, an Executive Chef at Paula LeDuc Fine Catering, and creative genius in the kitchen. Together, they spent the next year and a half experimenting tirelessly to create a line of spice blends that would take the fuss out of cooking while delivering extraordinary flavor. Their spice blend line-up includes Ancho Chicken Rub, Close to Curry Blend, Herbed Coffee Rub and No. 19 Salmon Blend.
KATZ is a Napa-based, award-winning producer of organic olive oil, preserves and honey as well as Orleans Method agrodolce vinegars. Katz family patriarch Albert has been involved in the California food movement for years, beginning as a Bay Area chef and restaurateur in the 1980s before moving to Napa in the early 1990s. Driven by his uncompromising standard for excellence, Albert chooses to control quality by making products in small batches using only the best ingredients. With a long list of awards to his name, the one that makes him proudest is the Pioneer Award he received from the California Olive Oil Council in 2008.
Kitty Keller is a Bay Area food icon. She established a small specialty food importing company in 1994 by making numerous trips to Europe to establish personal relationships with artisanal food producers in France and Spain. Today the company, known as KL Keller Foodways, continues to import artisanal foods made using traditional methods while also creating innovative and delicious, products from Oakland, California.
Christine Doerr's passion for chocolate started with her first job at a retail chocolate shop in the 80s, and it still burns hot. She is one of the "Top Ten Chocolatiers in North America" according to Dessert Professional magazine. Her truffles are inspired by traditional European truffles, with no hard shell, just rich, creamy chocolate delicately dusted with cocoa powder - Heavenly!
Monica La O’ began baking as a child, inspired by hours of watching her grandmother perfect croissants. She followed her heart with a degree in food science from the University of California, Davis. After years of winning fans and inspiring addictions with her custom desserts, Monica La O' teamed up with her dad and brother to start Olamola Confectionery. They produce gourmet sweets from the highest quality ingredients for local California markets and beyond. Her meringue kisses cookies are irresistible!
Arnon Oren founded Oren's Kitchen as a gourmet catering business, and soon after began packaging his customers' favorites. Chef Oren slow bakes small batches of locally grown nuts at low temperatures, a process that preserves their freshness and integrity. He uses a small amount of premium olive and peanut oils—never enough to overwhelm the flavor—and seasons them with rare spices from around the world. Through experimentation, Chef Oren has created combinations that perfectly balance the natural character of the nuts, elaborating on centuries-old roasting traditions with modern, creative flavors that are perfect for complimenting salads or meat dishes, or for gourmet snacking all on their own. His heirloom bean soup defines "comfort food." Add tomatoes and/or squash for a touch of additional color. Delicious!
Chef Oren received his formal culinary training in Lyon, France at École des Arts Culinaires et de L'Hôtellerie, where he developed an appreciation for simple ingredients and the "no fuss" presentation of genuine French cuisine. Over the years, he's worked alongside culinary legends at a few high profile kitchens, including Alice Water's Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Oliveto Café & Restaurant in Oakland. "With every dish," he says his "romantic side still tries to get back" to the "pure foods" and "fresh flavors" of his childhood.
Papalote Roasted Tomato Salsas originated at Miguel and Victor Escobedo’s Papalote Mexican Grill in San Francisco’s Mission District. The menu of Papalote was inspired by the pot-luck meals served at family birthday parties in the sprawling park of Chapultepec in Mexico City, where Miguel and Victor grew up.
Burritos served at Papalote have earned a reputation for being some of the best in the country, owing in no small part to their exquisite salsa. The secret recipes are inspired by the brothers’ talented father, a salsa master whose creative sauces inspired awe amongst their family. The brothers’ take on their father’s recipe capture in perfect balance the smokiness of fire-roasted tomatoes and the distinctive characteristics of various peppers.
Papalote Roasted Tomato Salsas are gluten free, vegan, and 100% natural. They have been featured on the Food Network’s “CHOPPED,” as well as on “Throwdown! with Bobby Flay,” where their original house salsa defeated the Iron Chef, who promptly asked for his own jar. This is the best salsa we've ever tasted!
The Rio Bravo Ranch was founded in 1861 as a sheep ranch, and the Nickel family has been farming near Bakersfield in southern California for 5 generations. Managing a diverse agribusiness, the Nickel family cousins tend various crops including corn, tomatoes, citrus and nuts, and even cattle feed. Six olive varieties are grown on 50 acres of the ranch, and the Fall 2014 harvest marks their first year of oil production. Rio Bravo offers a Ranch Blend as well as several single varietal extra virgin olive oils. Be sure to visit the Rio Bravo Ranch gift shop if you are in the area.
Rustic Bakery was founded in 2005 by Carol LeValley and Josh Harris, specializing in creating artisan breads, crackers, cookies, and pastries by hand, in small batches, and from the finest organic grains and seeds. Initially designed to complement fine wine and gourmet cheese, Rustic’s artisan baked goods have since taken on a life of their own, appearing in artisan shops in San Francisco and in local and high-end grocery stores throughout Northern California. They have three locations in Marin County—where all of their goodies are produced—and where they regularly draw crowds for their popular breakfast menu and for loaves of freshly baked whole wheat bread. We can't resist the savory cheese coins!
The MoonShadow Grove brand of extra virgin olive oil was introduced in 2012, however the story behind this grove in Butte County in northern California dates back to 1935 when three olive varieties, including Ascolano, were first planted. Named for the family that began organic practices on the property in the 1990s, the Sadeg Ranch has maintained organic certification for over 20 years and three ranch owners. The current owners, Rich and Diane Mathews, split their time between the ranch and the San Francisco area, and designed the beautiful MoonShadow Grove label in honor of the ranch’s most dramatic inhabitant, the majestic long eared owl.
Séka Hills extra virgin olive oil is produced by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation in the Capay Valley in northern California. Native Americans have lived in this region for thousands of years, and the Tribe honors its past through the thoughtful stewardship of this land. In addition to maintaining 124 acres of olive trees, the Tribe farms several other crops and runs a growing herd of 400 cattle on the Tribe's 10,000 acres of rangeland. Other specialty products from Séka Hills include wine, honey and nuts. The Tribe operates a state-of-the-art olive oil mill to preserve the best flavor and greatest health benefits in their oils. If you're in the Capay Valley, their Tasting Room is a must-visit for an insider's look into extra virgin olive oil production, to sample their delicious products, and to enjoy a light lunch.
Sisters, Wendy and Susan Lieu, started selling truffles at the Santa Rosa farmer's market as a summer hobby. Since then, they've been wowing customers with exotic flavors including passion fruit, guava and Sriracha.