He’s cooked professionally for nearly a decade in two of the top foodie cities in the world: first New York and now Austin. When Dan Stacy moved south in 2008, he and his new wife Kristen knew they wanted to start a food business. A catering company that sourced primarily local, organic ingredients was a missing niche in the food-movement-friendly city, and Dan and Kristen began Royal Fig catering to fill the void. Like most new business owners they started slowly, capping their reservations at only two weddings per month. Soon, though, demand outweighed their caution, and Royal Fig took on more customers, more employees, and more food. Now, it’s nothing unusual for Dan to cook for 1,000 people in one weekend. Cooking in the New American style, Dan’s creations are both seasonal and regional. Given his Texas roots, his menus are meat-appreciative — pork belly, strip steak, even whole pig roasts — but he never skimps on the seasonal, local vegetables — spring beets and carrots, summer tomatoes and squash, fall pumpkins, potatoes, and butternuts. And because Dan sources his produce from the farmers themselves, the taste is unfailing.
Last year, Dan added a new addition to Royal Fig, a mobile food truck called The Seedling Truck. It’s still Dan’s signature style, only mobile! He still sources local and organic ingredients whenever possible, retaining his food’s quality while showcasing the casual good nature that characterizes his entire menu. This month, Royal Fig is moving into yet another arena — an event space in the Hill Country called The Harvest Room. In the interview below, Dan gives us his unique perspective into life in the food business, not just from behind the kitchen counter, but engaged in an entire city’s food scene. more »
Cara Reed is on a mission. In her kitchen in Los Angeles, California, she’s recreating every sweet treat you loved as a child. But here’s the real kicker: she’s going to make it vegan and gluten free, and it will be better than you remember. Since being diagnosed with dairy and gluten allergies last year, Cara has been showing herself and everyone else that vegan, gluten-free eating doesn’t have to mean the death of your palate. Irked by the term “restrictions” when it comes to diet, Cara purposefully focuses her attention on baking, the GF and vegan world’s most vulnerable spot. And the collection she has built in only six months of blogging is nothing short of astounding. From Lucky Charms to Tagalongs, Fork and Beans is already one of the most interesting treasure trove of gluten free and vegan recipes in the blogosphere. Additionally, Cara serves even more than engaging recipes and beautiful photos on Fork and beans. The stories that accompany her posts are particularly frank and personal. From daily worries to longterm struggles, reading Fork and Beans is like sitting down with a friend for a cup of coffee and a gluten, dairy, and egg-free chocolate shortbread cookie. more »
In some ways, Heather Scholten’s Farmgirl Gourmet is a typical food blog. Heather started it in 2006 with few expectations; she had just moved to Eastern Washington and used Farmgirl Gourmet as a forum to keep her friends and family updated on the goings-on in the Scholten household. Like many new bloggers with an inviting voice and fresh perspective, she soon found herself gaining readers, notoriety, and attention from brands, and suddenly Farmgirl Gourmet had sprouted from a personal diary to a notable recipe site with a wide community of readers. Not an uncommon tale for food bloggers today. But there is more to Heather’s story that makes Farmgirl Gourmet particularly intriguing. In 2006, the Scholtens didn’t move to just anywhere in the Northwest; they moved to a 130-year-old farmhouse on 20 acres just outside of Spokane. For eight years, Heather called that piece of dirt home, grew a sizable vegetable garden and even raised a few horses, goats, and chickens. That time on the farm shaped the way she cooks and eats today. Warm, homey recipes built upon fresh, local, sustainable ingredients, Heather’s recipes beg to be served on a heavy farmhouse table. Although Heather doesn’t live on that piece of land in Spokane anymore, farm life still styles her recipe development — solid, self-made, confident, and adventurous. more »