Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food : A Grocer's Guide to Shopping, Cooking & Creating Community Through Food
Get the most out of your grocery shopping with this innovative shopper's guide and cookbook rolled into one. In Eat Good Food, former chef Sam Mogannam,
owner of San Francisco's popular Bi-Rite Market, guides you through the grocery store one department at a time, and explains how to identify incredible ingredients, decipher labels and terms, build a great pantry, and reconnect with the people and places that feed us.
Eat Good Food gives you a new way to look at food, not only the ingredients you buy but also how to prepare them. Featuring ninety recipes for the dishes that have made Bi-Rite Market's in-house kitchen a destination for food lovers, combined with Sam's favorite recipes, you'll discover exactly how to get the best flavor from each ingredient. Dishes such as Summer Corn and Tomato Salad, Spicy String Beans with Sesame Seeds, Roasted Beet Salad with Pickled Onions and Feta, Ginger-Lemongrass Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, Apricot-Ginger Scones, and Chocolate Pots de Cr?me will delight throughout the year.
No matter where you live or shop, Sam provides new insight on ingredients familiar as well unique, including:
*Why spinach from open bins is better than prepackaged greens
*What the material used to wrap cheese can tell you about the quality of the cheese itself
* How to tell where an olive oil is really from--and why it matters
* What "never ever" programs are, and why you should look for them when buying meat
With primers on cooking techniques and anecdotes that entertain, enlighten, and inspire, Eat Good Food will revolutionize the way you shop and eat.
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Ten Speed Press
October 18, 2011
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food by Dabney Gough
Creating Community through Food
I never wanted to be a grocery guy, but here I am. My dad and uncle had owned San Francisco's Bi-Rite Market since the 1960s, which for me meant a childhood spent stocking shelves, helping out, and generally serving as free labor. Starting at the young age of six, I would go home after school every day, pick up the dinner that my mom had prepared for me and my dad, and head over to the market, where I would work until the store closed at 9 p.m. The grocery business was hardly my idea of fun, and as soon as I left home I didn't look back.
I found my calling in the restaurant world. I went to culinary school, cooked in Switzerland for a year, and continued to cook once I returned to San Francisco. I loved cooking, and I didn't miss the grocery business at all. So in 1997, when my dad gave me the opportunity to take over the family grocery business, I initially said, "No way." At the very least, I was hell-bent on doing something--anything--other than running a market.
Still, Dad's offer piqued my interest. Just like him, I had entrepreneurial blood running through my veins, and at the age of twenty-nine was coming off of six years of owning and operating my own restaurant. With his offer, I immediately started visualizing the store's potential as a restaurant space. I fantasized about gutting the store to put in a large kitchen and a spacious dining room. Dad nipped that in the bud, though. He knew how hard I had been working at my restaurant--the long hours, the less-than-healthy lifestyle--and he denied me flat out. "You'll never have a family if you stay in that business," he warned. (Like many fathers of childbearing-age adults, he was pushing hard for grandchildren. Which he eventually got.)
So no restaurant. I still refused to do a grocery store, so we began to think about other ways to use the space. We entertained all kinds of ideas; someone even suggested to Dad that we open a pet food store, so we kicked that around for about a week. After much debate and no ideas that really excited me, I caved. I agreed to take over the market and continue to run it as such, but under one condition: I had to do it my way.
The odds were against us. At that time, the neighborhood was hardly the trendy, vivacious, bursting-with-energy place it is today. The Mission has always been lively, but for a long time it was the wrong kind of liveliness. Dolores Park, just half a block from the Market, was home to junkies. Stabbings and shootings happened regularly. By the time I was twelve, I had been mugged twice on my way to and from the store.
Still, when we started our renovations in November 1997, one of the first things we did was take down the metal bars that covered the windows. What a drama that was! All these old-timers--people we hadn't seen in years--came around and asked, "What are you doing? Are you crazy?" To me, those bars made the store feel like a fortress. I wanted the store to look inviting and welcoming, so I told myself (and those questioning bystanders), "I'm taking the bars off, and I'm just going to deal with it."
The renovated store reopened on June 8, 1998. And it was crazy. My brother Raphael and I were partners in the business (he is no longer a partner but still works at the store), supported by six staff from my old restaurant and all the family members we could corral. I wore many hats in those days: I would go to the produce market in the morning, come back and cook for the deli, stock the shelves, and ring on the register.
In the beginning, we had no idea what we were doing. We made it up as we went along, running it like a restaurant, which turned out to be a huge advantage. And, it turns out, we reinvented the grocery store in the process.
I did know one thing from the very beginning. Coming from the restaurant world, I understood the importance of making things entertaining and treating the market as a theater of sorts. The flattering lighting, the upbeat music, the open kitchen and exuberant signage are all designed to create an energetic, fun vibe. I also knew that having friendly, informed staff would be key. So we hired former waiters for our "front of house" staff, and we expected them to know our food inside and out, just as they would at a restaurant. Even if they're stocking shelves, their main role is always to inspire customers, put them at ease, and get them excited about good food. All with the overarching goal of making grocery shopping an interactive, fun, and enjoyable experience.
The product selection got a makeover, too. We revamped the offerings and got rid of products that my dad and uncle had carried for years--things like cigarettes and forties of malt liquor. It came as a big shock to some folks in the neighborhood. After we reopened, people would come in, take a look around, and eventually ask, "Ain't you got smokes?"
We didn't. We filled the shelves with things that I as a chef would want: pantry items like good wine vinegar and panko bread crumbs, farm-direct produce, and sustainably raised meat. Basically, it was a lot of the same ingredients I had used at my restaurant. I preferred these ingredients because they tasted better, not just because they were organic or local. That evolution came over time and happened largely because of the people around me. These were people--mostly our own staff at first, but more and more guests as well--who wanted to make a difference in the world, and they began to push me in ways that nobody had before. Our produce buyer, Simon Richard, had a huge impact on me. A farmer himself, he helped me see farming in a new way, and I gradually understood why organic and sustainably raised produce was so important. I owe him a lot for that.