Thursday, June 15, 2017

Project Eats 2017 Meet the Vendor: Bread and Spoon

The Jersey City Project's Project Eats 2017 is back on 6/24 and 6/25 with new vendors and returning favorites, all ready to serve up some delicious, indulgent eats. To help get you ready, I'm excited to be collaborating with The Jersey City Project to spotlight some of the vendors from this year's Project Eats, learning more about their business, their food, and what they love about Jersey City. 

Meet Bread & Spoon, a family-run specialty catering and baking company that loves connecting people through food. 

Photo courtesy of Bread & Spoon

Tell me about Bread & Spoon - how did it get started?
I always say - it was the coalescing of two books and a VERY understanding spouse, Steve. I (Colleen) read "The Art of Eating In" by Brookylnite Cathy Erway and Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" a little over 6 years ago, while we were both still in corporate gigs. I've always been a serious amateur in the kitchen, and became fascinated with the "slow food" and local food movement, especially what was happening in Brooklyn at the time. While juggling a full-time legal job at a record label, I started hosting a weekly pop-up supper club at Dames Coffee Shop around the corner from my apartment, then slowly accruing clients by listening to what JC wanted - tasty, simple, healthy food.

I love simple, savory, seasonal meals, and got very interested in specialty baked goods when I discovered I was gluten intolerant. My first pastry wholesale client was Christine Onorati, owner of WORD Bookstore & Cafe. We were a vendor for them when they first opened in late 2013, and we are still. It was such a thrill for me to walk into a shop and see my pastries for sale. 

What is the inspiration behind your food? How did you decide to start incorporating some vegan options?
It's really about balance for us. Both Steve and I love good food, and so do our kids (more on them soon, as they are an inspiration as well!). We both feel that it's important to balance personal health and the love, community and joy that comes from cooking and eating together. Food is community, plain and simple -which is why we know the names of the farmers who grow our food. Food connects us all on such a personal level. The "Bread" in Bread & Spoon is really about what we do - feed people's bodies, hearts and families. 

As for vegan dishes, they are delicious! We eat meat in our house, but a plant-based diet is a great way to get lots of nutrients, color and energy from food. I really got into vegetarian and vegan cooking in late 2014, when we adopted our first daughter, Yu Yu, from China. She was almost 7 years old and really didn't eat very much animal protein (She still prefers veggies to meat almost 3 years later, and has a fantastic palate). Asian cooking uses very little, if any, dairy, and focuses a lot on grains and veggies. Making food with and for Yu Yu further expanded our appreciation for veggie based meals. (Though her little sister, adopted last year, is a BIG fan of animal protein!)

What's your favorite part of Jersey City? What made you decide to start your business here
We love downtown because it's home, and has been my home for 13 years, and Steve's for 9. A lot of people visit us and exclaim, "You live in a city! How do you know everyone on the street?" It's because JC is a community, of artists, makers, chefs, teachers, parents, friends and family. When we decided to really "go for it" here, we knew it would work because JC loves supporting it's own. 

Having been a vendor around town for the past several years, do you notice more interest in food culture around town?
Yes! It was incubating, for sure, when we started part-time 5 or so years ago, but BOOM, here we are. I truly think it ties back to community and food - they really go hand in hand. We love gathering around the table to eat and share the experience together. It's basic humanity. 

What do you enjoy about Project: Eats? 
THE FOOD. Ahahaha. I love what Kristen and The JC Project do; they curate and think carefully about who is vending. And, from a practical perspective, they make it SO EASY to vend and to attend! Happy and unstressed vendors make happy and unstressed clients, and everyone has a great time. We love it. 

What other vendors are you looking forward to?
We are HUGE fans of what Jen & Boris do at Bucket & Bay. Steve loves anything chocolate and Colleen is a big fan of the Mezcal Chip. We are also both dying to try Tidal Poke's poke bowls. Such a refreshing thing on a summer's day!

Do you have a favorite menu item you'll be offering? 
We are rolling out 4-5 flavors (including GF and vegan options, of course!) of a new dessert concept of ours, a parfait-sized trifle we are calling a "Dreamboat". I am a huge fan of the Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter flavor - Fresh whipped cream from Fulper Farms in PA, dark chocolate and peanut butter sauces, topped with one of our almost-famous PB Choc Chip Cookies. 

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