How did Tart Vinegar begin?
When I was a line cook in San Francisco I lived with a wine rep, and she had all these half-empty bottles of beautiful wine around the house. I was always into all things fermentation and would try different ways to make red wine vinegar using the last dregs that were just going to be tossed out. My favorite was the most simple, just adding raisins, which feeds sugar to the alcohol in wine and transforms it into acetic acid.
For the ten-plus years since, I always had different fermentations I was playing with, experimenting with ingredients and methods. I called it my most expensive hobby, and finally in 2019, I started Tart as its own business. I was producing in my apartment and printing a few shipping labels at the library while my son had his weekly chess club. The big shift for me is when I really started to focus on the product not just tasting good, but also working within small-scale agriculture – buying celery and other ingredients that are nutrient and mineral rich.
To grow I had to move the operation out of my home. I signed a lease to move into a factory space in March 2020, with no idea that only a few weeks later the city would be in lockdown and I’d lose my steady cooking jobs that were paying for my ability to do Tart. Fortunately, it’s been working as a one-woman show, I even bought a printer.
What's your favorite part about the New York creative community?
I am blown away all the time by the folks here. This city went into lockdown and I saw friends like Ad Dunn invent a non profit Service Workers Coalition to get cash to undocumented workers. Even before this year Natasha Pickowics was doing groundbreaking work raising money for Planned Parenthood and then transitioning into In Good Taste, and raising money and helping immigrant communities locally. Also everyone should know about Breaking Bread and the work of chefs and food industry people working together to feed and educate food insecure areas of NYC. I also work closely with Phoenix Community Garden and their program that focuses on feeding the local elder community with fresh produce boxes delivered by volunteers and can be purchased online as donations. My community has shown up for me personally over and over again and it has made it possible to survive what is the hardest time in this industry.
What's inspiring you right now?
My kid always. I don't know if that’s a lazy answer but it's the truth. He’s in second grade and has been as bendable as Gumby when it comes to his schedule, lack of interaction with his friends, doing early farmers market runs before school, and staying late at the factory to wait for UPS to do pickups. He keeps me feeling like the world could be better and we are not all doomed.
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