“I’m my target market,” said Elizabeth Vecchiarelli, the owner of Preserved, a newly opened culinary shop in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood.
She thinks of Preserved as a place for “fermenting hobbyists” to learn more about preserving goods and shop for necessary supplies in one place. When she moved to the Bay Area from Portland a few years ago to study holistic nutrition at Berkeley’s Bauman College, Vecchiarelli found it difficult to find supplies to keep up her food preservation hobby.
“I thought it was crazy that I had to order all my stuff online,” Vecchiarelli said recently inside her tiny shop on Telegraph Avenue, which opened in March. Her first store was located in an even tinier pop-up shed behind the Neighbor home goods store on Piedmont Avenue.
Preserved has shelves stocked with supplies that Vecchiarelli sources directly from producers she has discovered along the way. Ask her about a product and she’ll probably have a story behind it.
An important component of the concept for Preserved are the classes, which are held twice a week and cover a range of preserving and fermenting topics from canning to making cheese. Vecchiarelli teaches many of the classes and brings in experts for more specialized courses. The cost per class ranges from $40 to $50 to cover the supplies and the finished products students take home.
“I realized these traditions are meant to be shared and passed down,” she said. Vecchiarelli added that she wanted to “create a community and have a place where people can come and learn and share.”
While there are some finished products by other makers, as well as cookbooks for sale, much of the store is dedicated to supplies. Vecchiarelli said she wanted her shop to have the feeling of a hardware store in that it could allow preserving enthusiasts to get the nuts and bolts they need at a reasonable price.
Even though food preservation is a part of Vecchiarelli’s life, her true passion is in connecting with others to talk about the larger issues of food sourcing and how foods function in our bodies.
Plus, she said the Bay Area is already saturated with small businesses selling homemade jams, artisanal cured meats, kombucha and pickled vegetables. One of her favorites is Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley. “I could never rival them because they’re so up there,” she said.
So Vecchiarelli finds satisfaction in helping DIY and home enthusiasts get into preserving. Since opening in Temescal, she said some of her customers are those that followed her from her original location, but many are curious passersby who simply wander in. (It doesn’t hurt that she’s sandwiched between popular restaurants Bakesale Betty and Pizzaiolo.)
“This is obviously a niche concept,” Vecchiarelli said, “but I get great joy when someone comes in and says, ‘I’m so happy you have kanten flakes!’”
Benjamin Seto is the voice behind Focus:Snap:Eat, where he dishes on food at restaurants and shops in the Bay Area, in his kitchen, and from his culinary adventures.
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