Andrea Blum has spent much of her life following others. She once followed a cheesemaker back to his village in Italy to learn about where the milk came from. That's also how she ended up in a butcher shop in Switzerland watching the curing of meats, or in a basement in Austria sampling homemade schnapps.
"It's a passion of mine to go beyond what I'm eating and find the story behind it," Blum says.
That curiosity about the people behind our food led her to create My American Pantry (MAP), a start-up company that promotes regional food and drink producers across the country. Blum is laying the groundwork for an online marketplace with a series of aerial photos of food artisans with their goods.
"I think of it as a Kickstarter for food artisans, where people can launch their businesses but in a very curated, beautiful and artistic way with recipes, videos, multimedia," says Blum, who is a culinary artist in residence at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga.
MAP just held its second aerial photo shoot in Santa Cruz on Sunday with nearly two dozen local food and drink makers, including the Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Co., Creative Cultures, Uncommon Brewers and Shelley's Biscotti. The first aerial photo took place in Marin last month.
The aerial photos are a way for Blum to bootstrap her company while she fine-tunes her business plan and raises capital. She says she may turn to Kickstarter herself to drum up funds so she can travel around the country taking photos of food and drink makers.