Oh my gosh. I love my bon appetit magazine for a million dozen reasons but one of my all time favorite things about them is how they inspire me. They are aware of the newest, freshest, coolest, most innovative places and people from all around the country (sometimes even the world) and then they not only write a beautiful little blurb about them with the most stunning photographs, they also share recipes from the restaurant or farm or person and it just gives you this perfectly complete picture of this totally great place you had never heard of but now feel like you’ve been to. What they’re trying to do, why they’re doing it, what they believe in. It’s amazing that a 4-page-spread could ever tell you that much. But it does. All the time. Oh I love it.
Even though bon appetit makes me fall in love with at least 10 people and approximately 2 to 8 businesses per month, this particular feature stood out. I learned of this magical little place in California called SHED and had to know more. So I went to their website and poked around and got a mega farm crush on the beautiful SHED and its creators Cindy Daniels and Doug Lipton.
SHED is this crazy eclectic, multi-faceted restaurant, cafe, , store, event space thing all housed under one beautifully solar-paneled roof. And even that, is not even scratching the surface of all the things they do and offer to their community.
First of all. Let’s talk about the design. I’m usually more of a rustic, beaten up old barn board and exposed brick kind of a girl, shying away from anything shiny or new or modern-looking, but damn. This place. It’s different. It’s kind of ugly from the outside (like a giant pole-shed with one wall of windows–okay really ugly) but the inside more than makes up for it. It’s huge and modern with high ceilings and gigantic windows but still, somehow, homey too. Wooden shelves and wooden tables and mismatched wicker baskets. An exposed kitchen with pots hanging on the walls. Red bar stools. Little chalkboards “chalked” full of information and giant signs that say things like “COOK”, “FARM” and “MAKE-DO-MEND”. Food everywhere. Garden tools. Cookbooks. Bounty. Color. It’s fun. It’s innovative. It’s bright and happy and energetic.
And inside this giant bright space there is everything a food lover, wanna be food lover, farmer, gardener, wanna be gardener, or average community member could ever want and/or need. Coffee bar with local coffee. Restaurant with changing weekly menus of goodies harvested from within a ten-mile radius and the most adorable culinary director I have ever seen (yes yes, I know adorable doesn’t carry any real weight, but don’t worry, he’s also super duper talented). Fermentation bar (fermentation bar?!) with in-house-made kombucha and shrubs (i.e. drinking vinegars!?). And that’s just the options for bodily consumption.
If you are looking for consumption of another variety, there are a billion things to purchase. There’s a pantry of local oils vinegars, flours, spice blends, etc. You can buy produce (probably produced within a ten-mile radius) or the things to grow produce. They have a beautiful garden store. Or you can find one of a kind kitchen goodies like beautiful hand-crafted kitchen utensils and fermentation crocks.
And I’m still not done. In fact, I’m just now getting to the very best part: the upstairs.
Upstairs is the community space. “The Grange Hall.” The social spot. The folks at SHED host events all they time. Chef panels. Cooking classes. Classes on seed saving. Classes on biodynamics. Classes on basket weaving. Dances. Movie screenings. Musical performances. Private events. Public events. A library of first-edition signed cookbooks available to the public a couple times a month.
So this place is kind of sort of a restaurant and I guess that’s why bon appetit featured it. But I think they also featured SHED because it’s so much more than that. It’s a mixed-use enterprise that celebrates every aspect of food from growing to eating and absolutely everything in between. It’s hopefully, the future.
Yes, it’s in California. And could perhaps only exist in California on this grand of a scale. Yes, it’s a little yuppie idealist, as many California things are. But it’s also so god damn visionary I can hardly stand it.
“Today SHED celebrates [a vision that] embraces the beauty and dignity of farming, the true taste of real food, and the pleasure that can be had from serving others,” says owners Doug and Cindy on their website.
Doug and Cindy. I have the biggest crush on you. That vision is beautiful and exactly what I dream of at night. If every state could have at least one space like this on any scale, I really think we could change the world. More good food. More resources. More camaraderie. More community. Yes please!
Happy Friday adventures!!!
P.S. Just so everyone knows, we were probably 10 miles from this place on our honeymoon and I hadn’t heard of it yet so we didn’t go!!!! Feel bad for me. I’m so sad. Guess we gotta get back to California. ASAP.
P.P.S. Because I missed that this existed when I was in California, all photos are borrowed and credited to others.