Saturday mornings at Marin Country Mart Farmers' Market recently got a little brighter with the addition of Emiliana Puyana and partner, Eva Lauderback of JARRED SF brine. JARRED SF brine is a new pickle business based out of the La Cocina kitchen in San Francisco. They specialize in seasonal pickles like pickled yellow wax beans, fennel, incredible shitaki mushrooms and beets (among many other rotating weekly choices). After working as a cook for years, eventually going to the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and moving to San Francisco in 2002, Emiliana started experimenting with pickling on her days off. The rest is history. Emiliana and Eva just began selling their pickles in Marin, but plans are already in place to branch out into other venues around the Bay Area and, someday, perhaps open a little artisan food shop. Chatting with both women, it's clear that a once weekend hobby can, with patience, persistence, and community support, become more of a viable business option. I asked them to tell us more about how they got started, what they're inspired by, and how the feel about the local Bay Area food scene. Here's what Emiliana had to say.
1. Tell me a little about your business, how and why you decided to start it.
For the last year or so of working in restaurants I began to get a little restless. I wanted a little more time for myself, time to spend with Eva, to plan our wedding, to have a "normal" work schedule and to get home at a reasonable hour. I started thinking of ways in which I might be able to make a living without having to be in a restaurant 12-13 hours a day. I was really thinking about starting a business that specialized in making organic pickles using local ingredients when they are in season and pickling every ingredient with its own unique flavor profile. But it was just an idea at the time. Then, came our wedding; we got married in our home and made a ton of different pickles: carrots, baby fennel, green beans, spring garlic, radishes, etc. and we used those as part of our center pieces. It was a massive hit. Everyone loved them (we had my brother design a label for us that was a sketch of our home). For days and weeks after the wedding people were coming up to us saying "You have to sell your pickles they are so good." That was the final push that I needed. Now with the help of La Cocina, Eva and my family we are finally out selling our products.
2. Why pickles?
Because they are delicious and you can use them or put them on everything. Fried pickles, pickled fennel salsa verde, tuna salad with pickled onions, Gibson martini with pickled ramps, Bloody Mary's with pickled yellow wax beans, fried green tomatoes made with sweet pickled green tomatoes, pizza with pickled jalapeños. And so on, and so on.
3. Do you think living in the Bay Area allows your business to flourish?
Without a doubt, living in the Bay Area helps us to flourish. It puts us at such close proximity to our products from the wine vinegars that we use for our brine to the different fruits and veggies that we pickle. We also love the customers here. They are well informed, they know food, they know what they want and they are adventurous with what they eat which is great for us because one of the things that we really want to do is to continue to experiment with what we pickle.
4. What have been the highlights of being a small business owner in the Bay Area thus far?
Being a small business in the Bay Area has proven to be pretty difficult for us so far. A few of the bright stops have been the local resources available to help small business start to operate. The Small Business Administration and La Cocina have been a tremendous help for us.
5. What inspires you, day to day?
I get inspiration from a number of different places: first and foremost from food. Every Wednesday I go pick up my CSA box, open it, and look at what is in it and I get inspired. Last week for instance, we got beautiful fresh Cayenne pepper in our CSA box and now we are working on developing "MARYS MATE" which will be pickle brine that we we'll sell for people to spice up their Bloody Mary's. It will have grated horseradish, fresh Cayenne pepper, and garlic. The idea is that you can put a splash of "MARYS MATE" in a glass, add a little vodka, top it off with your favorite tomato juice and voila BLOODY MARY'S!