Grilled Raclette Sandwich Recipe with Ugly Pickle Co. PicklesBy Kayla & David |
Geana: Before we jump into the recipe, tell us a bit about Ugly Pickle Co.!
Kayla: With all of our products we're using either cosmetically irregular produce or farm surplus, things that otherwise would have gone to waste because of cosmetic irregularity, or sometimes just very normal natural occurrences like harvest comes too early or all at the same time and produce needs to kind of move quickly.
As we grow, it's exciting to be able to do more good. I guess to tie it into the restaurant we're opening soon, because I think people are like, wait, why are you also doing that? The restaurant is also totally focused on highlighting upcycled ingredients.
We really saw over the course of the pandemic, all of the cracks in the food system burst open and realized how vulnerable farmers really are, especially now seeing supply chains so disrupted. With Pickle, there's only so much we can take on especially as far as variety of produce. We have our four different products and we're using very specific produce for products to go on the shelves.
But with the restaurant we're able to take in smaller quantities and more random bits of produce to upcycle that into pizza toppings. So yeah, it's like two different avenues for addressing the same food waste problem. In addition to upcycled produce, we'll be able to focus on by-products also, off-cuts from the meat industry, by-catch from fishing. So we'll be addressing many of the different ways that waste happens in our food system.
Geana: That's so cool. I've actually wondered this before. Is there that much pickle in the world to save as you continue to grow? How does that work?
Kayla: It's a great question. There are so many different, I guess, scales at which it happens. To start we were really sourcing mainly from local farm partners and they would, here and there, have products that they needed to move.
Sometimes it was just at the end of the farmers market. They are like "I didn't sell any of this, but I don't have any refrigerated storage at my farm and this is my last farmer's market of the week. So, will you take this off our hands?"
But, oddly cucumbers are also some of the produce that gets wasted the most frequently. There's just a lot of cosmetic variation in the cucumber. We specifically source a lot of what they call are crooks and nubs. It's one of our recent pictures on Instagram.
Geana: It's so weird to me that people wouldn't eat a y-shaped cucumber. I don't even know if that's the way that they grow but carrots do that. They look funky, but it's a root! Of course it's going to grow in other ways.
Kayla: It’s so crazy, They're really cute too! Like the picture on our Instagram and they're all just kind of curved cucumbers and they sometimes have what they call sunspots and it's just lighter patches on them. I think that scares people because, they think "oh is it not good? Is it not ripened enough or something?" But I think it's a lack of exposure and education just like our food system hides all of these things. Yeah, just because people don't see them at the grocery stores, they don't really think, yeah it seems unusual because they're not readily available even though they are very much present in our food system. So, in a lot of ways, what we're doing is not novel, it's not new or relying on technology which is such a big thing now.We're really going back in time to the way that we used to eat many generations ago. Reduce waste, eat what you have, and then that also has a tremendous climate impact. Food and food waste is one of the ways we can combat climate change.
Geana: Right. Yeah, I love hearing what you're saying about this not being a new technology. These are very old ways and really also intuitive ways, right? People would not have thrown food away in past times even like our grandmother's generations. My grandmother would NEVER throw away food.
Kayla: It's such a crazy problem to have, but it's destroying our environment in a lot of ways just wasting all the resources that go into growing produce, all the environmental inputs are staggering that we're just throwing back into the garbage.
Geana: Right. Wow! So, talking about business again, you're addressing these issues with two businesses now. How's the transition going? What do your jobs look like these days? How are you two handling two businesses?
Kayla: There's Ugly Pickle Co. and the restaurant is called Shuggie's Trash Pie and it's overwhelming to us too actually! But, I just quit my full-time job. I was working at Oatly growing their food service channel since they started in the US so it's kind of been a fun parallel educational journey working with them. But for us everything is very much homegrown in both of these companies.
And David, he's a chef, he's been cooking for 20 years in kitchens. He’s worked at the Michelin level for most of his career and is now, for the first time, getting to open his own restaurant. But on the Pickle side, he's done all of our R&D and has been producing all of our pickles up until very recently. We found a co-manufacturer so they're actually helping do some of the larger production runs and we're hoping to fully pass that off to them very soon.
I'm still running around making local deliveries. I kind of do everything backend on the computer. All of our retail growth is just me knocking on doors. I also do the designs for our packaging and everything. I’ll be running front of house in the restaurant like the wine program, and I guess all the other things that come with running front of house. It's interesting because I've actually never had a formal restaurant career. So yeah, kind of just jumping into owning one! I'm grateful for my mom who instilled this sense of hospitality that I'm excited to share in our own space.
Geana: Yeah, I'm sure you will do just fine. There's a lot of evidence that you guys are going to figure it out and do just fine.
Kayla: I appreciate that.
Geana: Any last thoughts you want to leave us with before we go make some stinky, delicious sandos?
Kayla: We’ve been painting the exterior of the restaurant for a while now. I’m doing new big designs but it's taking forever. As we talk to individuals on the street–I've been meeting a lot of neighbors and passersby–and whenever they ask about the restaurant we say, "oh, we're doing pizza, share plates, natural wine." The interactions are so fast. We never talk about the environmental missions of it. I think there's just not space to talk about all the things and all of the connections.
What we're really trying to do is create a really delicious restaurant and fun community space that's going to look really wild. We're not necessarily leading with the mission as much as it being there for people looking to dig a little bit further.
I think it's such a parallel in a way to what you're doing in that good design and quality product has to lead. It can't have a mission and then not be backed up by something people really want. So, yeah, we're trying to do all that–a great restaurant with great hospitality and an underlying environmental mission that you can find if you are interested in looking.
Grilled Raclette Sando with Ugly Pickle Co. Pickles
Ugly Pickle Co. Dilly Carrots
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
20 celery leaves
20 1-inch pieces chive
20 parsley leaves
2 tablespoons Ugly Pickle Co. Carrot Top Chimi or homemade salsa verde
Salt to taste
1. Cut the baguette as you would for a sandwich.
2. Slather outside and inside with mayonnaise, season with salt.
3. In a pan on medium heat, toast inside of bread until deep golden brown.
4. Flip bread to toasted side up, add raclette, Dilly Carrots, parsley, chives, celery leaf, and drizzle with Carrot Top Chimi.5. Cook until raclette is melted and deep golden brown.
6. Serve Ugly Pickle Co. pickles on the side. Make two so you don’t have to share!
For those of you who want to take your mayo to the next level, here's a recipe that we personally use at our house:
One small-medium egg at room temp
1/2 cup of olive oil
Add egg to food processor, turn it on, and pour the olive oil in slowly, very slowly.
We've tried lots of other recipes and this is as quick and easy as we've been able to get it. Enjoy!Learn more about Ugly Pickle Co. and give them a follow!