Meet & Eat: Rachael Mamane, Brooklyn Bouillon

Meet and Eat: NY

Conversations with chefs and food personalities in New York City.

Rachael Mamane took her dedication to nose-to-tail eating, her love for cooking, and her connections to local farmers to create Brooklyn Bouillon. This up-and-coming company creates stocks and demi-glaces using ingredients straight from Greenmarket farmers, with no additives, and makes them available to home cooks.

Name: Rachael Mamane
Occupation: Founder, Brooklyn Bouillon
Location: Brooklyn

How did you become interested in cooking? My interest in cooking began when I was a vegetarian in high school. I was overweight as a kid and have always had a terrible sweet tooth. When I couldn't find healthy options in grocery stores, I started baking and soon took my homemade vegan pastries to local shops to see if they wanted to sell them. In college, I remember altering the temperature in my tiny apartment to effect a temperature-controlled room for chocolate making. (It likely made little difference in the final product, but taking a scientific approach did make me feel like I was getting something out of my pre-med studies.)

Without a doubt, the greatest cooking influence in my life has been my Spanish grandmother. I have childhood memories of visiting her in Israel, and no matter what time my family would arrive from our long travels, she would shower us with affection through home cooking. It could be two in the morning, way past my bedtime, and she would craft batch after batch of hand-cut potatoes to offer french fries to her American grandchildren. Her passion for cooking has become my inherited gift, sometimes an irrepressible compulsion, and I am forever grateful.

Additionally, in Thomas Keller's The French Laundry, he writes a narrative recipe for butchering an entire baby lamb and composing it in parts as one dish. This recipe gave me the courage to contact a regional farmer and embark on nose-to-tail cooking. My journey as a strict vegetarian to a mindful carnivore has been an important one, perhaps telling of how the idea of Brooklyn Bouillon has come about.

Tell us about starting your business. Little did I know when I moved to New York how deeply empowered our local food community is, and I've been very lucky to find like-minded folks in such a short time. I started selling product for Hudson Valley Duck Farm at Greenmarkets a couple times a week. Customers would often ask if any market vendors were selling stock or demi-glace.

I started to research why this common staple was mostly absent from farmer stands. In short, it takes a long time to build a good stock, and even longer for a solid demi-glace, and most farmers simply do not have the time or resources to bring this product to market. It seems that this is how many value-added products are born: Find a gap in the farm-to-fork food system, remove the problem from the farmer's side (they have enough to worry about) and figure out how to turn it into a product that is accessible to many and beneficial to the farmer.

Why stocks and demi-glaces? Ask any chef and they'll agree that the foundation of good cooking is in a well-developed base. Stocks and demi-glace are the building blocks for many dishes, yet what is available in grocery stores is mostly ridden with additives for shelf stability. In their purest form, stocks have incredible nutritional value, carrying with them the vitamins and collagen of their source ingredients. So, say, when you take seasonal vegetables and grass-fed beef bones from farmers with high standards, you now know where your stock comes from, and with no unnecessary additives, and you're helping farmers make use of their entire harvest.

What's next for you in terms of growing Brooklyn Bouillon? Our top priority is building strong relationships with farmers and understanding how we can best support their harvests. Now we are developing a scalable production method that will be fully licensed and approved. We intend to roll out Seasonal Vegetable Stock and Pasture-Raised Chicken Stock first, and then we will work with the state to add more products to the line over time.

You recently spoke on a panel about using technology to build your brand. Any tips to share with food entrepreneurs? Social media is an efficient way to reach individuals with common connections and similar interests. Moreover, a food entrepreneur can use these tools to offer transparency about what it takes to build a small business. You'd be surprised at how many people are interested in what it takes to work for yourself in this economy! The support you receive can be very encouraging and helps justify those days when the challenges seem insurmountable.

Where can we find your products? We are developing a profit-sharing distribution strategy that will encourage farmers to sell Brooklyn Bouillon at their market stands. For instance, the farmer who harvests grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken would sell our corresponding stocks. Luckily, you will see most of our farmers at Greenmarkets, so you can expect to find multiple selections throughout the market on any given day. Additionally, we are having conversations with large specialty retailers and hope to expand to retail distribution in the future.

Tell us about your upcoming Soup Swap on 2/19. Brooklyn Bouillon is partnering with Seriously Soupy, a local blog by Serena Norr, to have an intimate soup swap this coming weekend. Basically, you RSVP to the event and plan to bring a soup to share. We'll provide containers, and everyone will get some soup to take home, provided there's any left after we eat. Talk about a Tupperware party!

What are some of the best ways to put your stocks/demi-glaces to use in the home kitchen? You can use our stock to build a simple soup or a complex risotto. Our demi-glace is great for developing sauces like the ones you have at your favorite restaurant, or you can use a small scoop of it to enhance the depth of flavor of a stew or grain. You can use Brooklyn Bouillon anywhere a recipe calls for stock or demi-glace, and you can trust that our product contains no hydrogenated oils or excess salt. Ask Dan and Chip, farmers of Grazin' Angus Acres, what they drink while they man their Greenmarket stand, and they'll tell you it's homemade chicken stock. It's a nourishing gift from the land.