Pernicious Pickling Co. was named a 2016 Good Food Award winner in the Pickles division. The winners of the Good Food Award represent the forefront of American craft food, making products that are “delicious, respectful of the environment, and connected to communities and cultural traditions.” This is a national award with winners from 33 states that were amongst almost 2,000 entries. Winners were processed in a blind tasting with 203 judges held in September 2015.
Winners were announced Thursday evening, January 15, at a star-studded ceremony and gala at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, featuring luminaries Alice Waters, Nell Newman and Slow Food Founder, Carlo Petrini.
“It is an incredible honor to be recognized and win such a prestigious award,” said Kendra Coggin & Baron Conway, co-founders of Pernicious Pickling Co. “The award represents everything we stand for in our desire to create great tasting and memorable pickles that use the best possible ingredients.”
Pernicious Pickling Co.’s winning entry, Fashionably Dill Pickled Red Beets, are a nod to Eastern European flavors with dill in a sweet and salty brine, enhancing the rich, earthy tones of the beet.
By Lorrie Baumann
Kendra Coggin and Baron Conway were looking to do more with their lives than answer to their corporate bosses in 2013, so they started making pickles. Just two years later, and just six months after the pair attended their first Fancy Food Show, their Pernicious Pickling Company’s Ginger & Spice Pickled Carrots are among the finalists for a sofi Award. “It’s what we wanted, but we never expected it would happen,” Conway says. “We were very, very surprised.”
In 2012, Coggin was a graphic designer, sitting at a computer all day and creating digital marketing materials for exciting entrepreneurs. Conway was working in advertising and marketing too, but his area of expertise is in business development and strategy. Both of them were infected by the ideas and energy of their clients, and they started thinking about going into business for themselves. They wanted something that would be creative, that would allow them to control their own destiny and that they could feel passionate about. “We wanted something where you don’t mind working 60 or 80 hours a week to create something that impacts people in an interesting way,” Conway says. “It’s about the food they love and the joy they get.”
They’re both food lovers, and, for both of them, pickles were part of their family history. “My family has always had a very strong relationship with pickles, particularly savory, while Kendra was more familiar with the sweet hot flavors of the South,” Conway says. “At some point, we looked around and saw that there were no artisanal pickle companies in southern California.”
The two started making pickles and serving them to their friends, who were enthusiastic, so they decided to do some research into what it would take to start a pickling company. A year of work went into the business plan and the licensing that was necessary before they could sell their product. “California has very strict rules about shelf-stable pickling. You have to have a cannery license, commercial kitchen, regular inspections from the California Food & Drug Bureau and keep meticulous production records. All of these things are required to sell, whether it’s in a Whole Foods Market, a mom and pop grocery, or at a farmers market,” Coggin says. “Even the recipes have to be submitted to the state for approval, along with samples for pH testing. It took us close to a year to get everything together. Then once you’ve received your cannery license and begin production, you have almost monthly inspections from the FDB to test your product and confirm records. This experience is certainly a far cry from the home canning we did growing up.”
All those complications could help explain why there are not many people making and selling shelf-stable pickles in Southern California, even though there’s a lot of excitement in the market about pickling, she muses. The two of them launched their business in October, 2013 with 10 products. Yes, 10.
“Out of the gate, we had these 10 products, and we decided, the hell with it, we’ll just launch with all 10 of them,” Conway says. “We saw an opportunity, a gap in the market, and we decided to jump in and see if we could take advantage of it.”
The 10 products include the Pickled Carrots that were Finalists for a 2015 sofi Award, Fashionably Dill Pickled Red Beets, Sweet Hurry Curry Pickled Cauliflower, Sweet ‘n Sour Pickled Red Onions, Lean ‘N Mean Pickled Beans, Sweet Mustard Bread & Butter Pickles, three kinds of dill pickles and Pucker Up Hotties Sour Garlic Pickles. Of the 10 varieties, the Fashionably Dill Pickled Red Beets and Lean ‘N Mean Pickled Beans are actually the company’s best sellers, so it was a little surprising that it was the Ginger & Spice Pickled Carrots that caught the attention of the sofi Award judges. “The carrots are kind of this underdog, so it really surprised us,” Coggin says. “Inspired by the rich cultural diversity here in Southern California, we wanted to take the classic spicy mix of carrots, onions, and jalapeños you receive at Mexican restaurants, and add an Asian flair by making them with rice vinegar, to have a more mellow vinegary flavor, crushed red pepper, ginger, Thai chile. When you bite into the carrot, you get the sweetness of the carrot and the ginger, followed soon afterwards by a tinge of heat.”
“With all of our pickles, we try very hard to create a balanced, layered flavor profile,” Conway adds. “So it complements and extends the food it’s paired with.”
They’re both taking joy in what their business is bringing to others as well as themselves. “People love pickles. There is this force that draws people to us when they see we have pickles,” Coggin says. “It crosses all ages and genders. Little kids come up and want the spiciest pickles, or they want to try the pickled beet because it’s bright pink.”
“Pickle people are happy people,” Conway adds. “When folks eat pickles, they have a smile on their face… They want to share memories about pickling with their grandmother or a favorite pickle dish experienced abroad – we’ve received more than one old family recipe in the mail. It’s really quite emotional at times, and it’s been an unexpected joy to see. We started Pernicious wanting to create pickles that people would love to eat, yet we didn’t quite expect the happiness, nostalgia, and community pickles would bring to us.”
Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine kicks off its 10th anniversary season with new picnics, sandwiches and salads, plus small production wine and beer pairings that have all been thoughtfully selected and created to celebrate summer in Chicago. Pastoral’s new summer offerings are available at all three store locations and also include cheese and charcuterie plates-to-go, plus a selection of handcrafted sides, sodas, locally made sweets, confections and accompaniments which can all be enjoyed on-the-go or at Pastoral’s al fresco dining patios open now throughout the season. Pastoral’s picnic offerings are ideal for two people to share, and designed with Chicago’s summer concert season and outdoor festivals in mind.
“This summer marks Pastoral’s 10th anniversary in business, and we took this milestone as a chance to create our favorite summer menu to date—picnics, sandwiches, salads, cheese plates, drink pairings and more that showcase some of Pastoral’s most delicious offerings and favorite culinary producers that have worked with us since we opened in 2004,” said Greg O’Neill, Co-founder and Co-proprietor of Pastoral and Bar Pastoral. “Every menu item reflects our commitment to bring customers the best small production and specialty products available from the most wonderful and talented culinary producers near and far. We want guests to taste this effort in every bite and sip from Pastoral this summer.”
Pastoral’s new picnics are designed for two people to enjoy together, and all include a wine or beer pairing recommendation from Pastoral’s team of experts. New picnics include:
Decadent Picnic (Heirloom Tamworth Prosciutto (Iowa), indulgent Brillat Savarin triple crème (FR – cow), smooth and seasonal Snowfields (Wis. – raw cow), rich and complex 5-Year Gouda (NL – cow), pate de fruits Jugglers (Ill.), rich and fair trade Madecasse Mini Bar (MG), handmade caramels from Katherine Anne Confections (Ill.), plus soft and delicious cookies house-made at Pastoral);
Bavarian Picnic (tangy house-made pimento cheese featuring two Wisconsin cheddars (cow), fresh and creamy Quark (Wis. – cow), Alsatian-style Saucisson d’Alsace salami (Ore.), La Fournette Bakery’s original recipe soft Bretzel (Ill.), plus Pastoral’s house-made toastettes, pickled cauliflower and grainy mustard);
Francophile Picnic (country-style Pig and Fig Terrine (Ind.), buttery Spring Brook Raclette (Vt. – raw, cow), herbed Prairie Fruits Farm chevre (Ill. – goat), fruity and bright Zingerman’s Manchester (Mich. – cow), single varietal Ames Mini Honey (Minn.), Pastoral’s house-made artichoke tapenade, cornichons and grainy mustard);
Quesophile Picnic (buttery Spring Brook Raclette (Vt. – cow, raw), Pecorino Fioretto (IT – sheep), tangy Clock Shadow Creamery chevre (Wis. – goat), Salemville Blue (Wis. – cow), smooth and seasonal Snowfields (Wis. – cow, raw), traditional and award-winning 1655 Gruyere (SZ – cow, raw), Pastoral’s own house-made spiced almonds and fig preserves);
Taste of the Midwest Picnic (Borsellino Salami (Iowa.), silky smooth Mortadella from Smoking Goose (Ind.), creamy and slightly funky Aged Widmer’s Brick (Wis. – cow), subtly smoky Marieke Smoked Cumin Gouda (Wisc. – cow, raw), tangy Clock Shadow Creamery chevre (Wis. – goat), shallot confit and dried Michigan cherries);
Carnivore’s Feast Picnic (dry-cured Salametti (Calif.), spice-cured aged Coppa (N.Y.), intense and rich Jamon Serrano (SP), silky smooth Mortadella (Ind.), Pastoral’s house-made pimento cheese featuring two Wisconsin cheddars (cow), cornichons, pickled vegetables and grainy mustard);
Grand Picnic (smooth and silky Prosciutto San Daniele (IT), Dodge City Salume from Smoking Goose Meatery (Ind.), fruity and complex Prairie Breeze (Iowa – cow), buttery and rich Brabander Gouda (NL – goat), bold and nutty Maxx Extra (SZ – cow, raw), smooth and lemony Driftless (Wisc. – sheep), single varietal Ames Mini Honey (Minn.), sweet and salty Effie’s Mini Oatcakes (Mass.), Pastoral’s house-made spiced almonds and a duo of handmade truffles from Chicago’s own Katherine Anne Confections.
Vegetarian options are available for select Pastoral picnics. All picnics are $39.99 with the exception of the Grand Picnic which is $69.99 and features some of Pastoral’s most indulgent products.
All Pastoral’s picnics are eco-friendly with biodegradable packaging including plates and utensils made from potato starch, recyclable paper bags and napkins. Additionally, many of Pastoral’s wines, beers, ciders and spirits focus on organic, biodynamic or sustainably produced selections that are both food- and earth-friendly.
The Pastoral team is available to help customers pair a bottle of small production wine, craft beer or cider with their picnics from the shop’s thoughtfully-selected collection of wines, beers, ciders and spirits. Pastoral’s beverage director, Mark Wrobel, has selected his favorite bottles for summer 2014, most of which feature a screw top or champagne-style stopper⎯no corkscrew required⎯making these selections ideal for summer concert and festival season.