This ‘Interview Fridays’ is with Todd Champagne of the well regarded and heavily celebrated Happy Girl Kitchen of Pacific Grove, CA. We feature their delicious Summer Strawberry Jam featured in our Monterey Box which is being released next week!

Here’s what he had to say…

Q: How long have you been honing your craft?

A: For more than 12 years Happy Girl Kitchen (HGK) has called the Central Coast home! We started farming, living in a teepee next to the fields and realized how much of the fruits & vegetables never even went to market! We thought, we need to save this food, and happy girl kitchen was born. We started pickling & jamming at our local Grange Hall in Aromas. Both our kids were born at home there!

Q: What is your favorite product you produce?
A: Considering that we make many, many types of pickles, jams, marmalades, jellies, ferment, shrubs and tomato products (over 70+!) I rather have seasonal favorites. If I had to choose one, it might be our Spicy Heirloom Tomato Juice, which is a in fact salsa juice, it’s a meal in itself. I even take it hiking!

Q: What inspires you?
A: My wife Jordan and I were both black + white photographers when we met in Santa Cruz in the summer of 1997. We bonded over capturing moments, which in essence is what canning is- framing fruit and vegetables and farms in a jar! We LOVE that- saving something that would otherwise be lost!

Q: What is one of your favorite parts of being an artisan?
A: We grew up doing farmers markets, our kids grew up at farmers market, our son Ry learned to ride a bike at farmers markets (he is now a BMX racer!). So being with people and teaching really turns us on- we like sharing the skills that can so easily enrich peoples lives with the simple pleasures of good food. We’ve been teaching workshops on food preservation monthly for over 5 years to thousands of people in the Bay Area- you can get your ‘Yes I Can’ Degree by taking 3 workshops with HGK.

Q: What is on the horizon for you this year?
A:We really really really wanna try and make enough cucumber pickles this year so that we don’t sell out before we can make more- we usually sell out in December + BOO HOO, people miss them!

NOTE: HGK’s café, coffee bar, retail shop and working cannery is open daily in Monterey just a few blocks from the Monterey Bay Aqaurium. We were jut voted ‘Best Vegetarian Menu’ in Monterey County! Our menu changes daily . . . come on by! 173 Central Avenue Pacific Grove, CA. 93950 happygirlkitchen.com
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