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red cap patisserie chocolate

Local food takes the guilt out of guilty pleasures

Case Study: Red Cap Patisserie

– By the Veggie Fairy Team

When you buy local food, your money stays in your community instead of going to some faraway corporate headquarters. Buy local food and your dollars create jobs at local farms, food distribution systems like Seasonal Roots, and food artisans like Red Cap Patisserie, which employs eight talented people in Richmond, Virginia.

red cap patisserie local jobs

So you can indulge that craving for, say, handmade chocolate, guilt-free, with Red Cap’s Dark Chocolate Toasted Almond Sour Cherry Bark. Not only is it good for the community, it’s also better for you than mass-produced chocolate. It’s freshly made, with no preservatives or artificial flavors.

And you can feel virtuous about it, too — compared to the global industrial food complex, food from a local artisan like Red Cap Patisserie uses less fuel and produces less CO2. So local food belches fewer greenhouse gases and fights global warming. That’s cool.

(Read this full list of 10 ways local food helps you live better.)

For two decades, pastry chef Martine Wladar handcrafted delicious treats for cafés and restaurants in New York City and New Jersey. We talked with her husband and partner John about how they found their way to Richmond, Virginia, where they now work together on their unique take on traditional French- and European-inspired fare.

red cap patisserie martine & john

VEGGIE FAIRY:

You both grew up in New Jersey. How did you wind up in Richmond’s historic Fan district?

JOHN:

It was a corporate relocation on my part in 2013. Martine had been working in the food industry for years, so we created a kitchen in our home where she could bake more seriously than she could with a residential oven. We signed up for the Saint Stephen’s Farmers Market and did that regularly.

red cap patisserie farmers market

After a couple years, a space opened up in the Fan and we were fortunate enough to acquire it. That let us open the retail operation and expand the commercial operation. Meanwhile I left my corporate job and began working for Martine. I’ve only been fired a couple times and she always takes me back.

red cap patisserie ribbon cutting

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Ha! But… not all couples can actually work together without killing each other. What’s your secret?

JOHN:

It’s something we work very hard at. We’ve been married since 1988, but when we embarked on this it changed our dynamic in many ways. You learn to be patient and just be quiet and listen and really try to hear the other person, which is a good practice whether you work together or not!

red cap patisserie handmade caramel

VEGGIE FAIRY:

So in our market, to start with you’ll be offering Chocolate Chip Brownies, Salty Sweet Pecans, super adorable Marshmallow Chicks, Sea Salt Caramels, and lots of dark chocolate treats. In addition to that, in your shop you offer all kinds of freshly baked sweet and savory pastries. How do you decide what to offer?

JOHN:

What we offer is guided by Martine’s intuition and inspiration. She’s had a lifelong love for baking and cooking. She’s taken various courses at cooking schools and perfected her skills on the job, and opening the shop was a unique opportunity to pull her expertise together in both baking and cooking.

red cap patisserie martine

VEGGIE FAIRY:

How did Martine learn the chocolate side of the business?

JOHN:

She has worked with Jacques Torres, who is a famous French chocolate master. When we opened this place she said, “You know, eventually I really want to offer chocolate!” Within a year and a half we had built up enough in-house staff to break out and offer chocolate treats and caramel. She really loves caramel, so we do our own caramel in-house and blend our own chocolate in-house. We like a particular chocolate taste. Some chocolates are too bitter, some have too much “cherry” flavor, some are just too sweet. We blend it to hit that sweet spot in between.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

How do you choose your ingredients?

JOHN:

It’s about quality in terms of the craft of making an excellent product that you can feel good about eating. Whenever possible, we source our ingredients locally. We’ll barter at the farmers market for eggs. We’re using real ingredients — real cream, real butter, real flour. No ingredients you can’t recognize or pronounce. That makes for a delicious product and a healthier one, even when it’s a treat.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

What’s your carbon footprint like?

JOHN:

We’re local, so we’re close to our customers. We also aim for sustainability in packaging. We try not to use any styrofoam and reduce the amount of plastic packaging we use as well as the packaging our supplies come in. We recycle everything that leaves the kitchen — unlike larger establishments, where everything just goes in the dumpster.

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red cap patisserie martine pastry chef

Red Cap Patisserie shares Seasonal Roots’ mission to make the world a better place through local food! If you want to see the full range of Martine’s creations, check out the mouthwatering photo gallery on the Red Cap Patisserie Instagram page. If you’re inspired to stop by Martine and John’s shop the next time you’re in Richmond, you’ll find directions on their website.

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pasture-raised dairy, eggs, and meat, plus wholesome artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

recycle boxes reduce carbon footprint

2 easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint

EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / September 13, 2017

Tips, hacks, recipes, stories, and the weekly special all help you eat better live better with fresh local food!

2 EASY WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT…
…you’re already doing at least one of them!

The first thing you can do: Eat local food.
The second thing: Reuse your Seasonal Roots delivery box.

So first things first: You’re already eating local food from Seasonal Roots. Here’s why that reduces your carbon footprint. Local food doesn’t travel as far as most food you find in the grocery store.

Compared to the global industrial food complex, food from local farmers and artisans uses less…

Continue reading about reducing your carbon footprint, below, or view this issue as a PDF with clickable links.

Newsletter 2017-09-20 FINAL pg1

Newsletter 2017-09-20 FINAL pg2

reduce carbon footprint recycle

2 easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint

Eat local and recycle the box!

By the Veggie Fairy Team

The first thing you can do: Eat local food. The second thing: Reuse your Seasonal Roots delivery box. Now let’s get into the details.

Eat local food

So first things first: You’re already eating local food from Seasonal Roots. Here’s why that reduces your carbon footprint. Local food doesn’t travel as far as most food you find in the grocery store.

Compared to the global industrial food complex, food from local farmers and artisans uses less fuel and produces less CO2 – 17 times less! So local food belches fewer greenhouse gasses and fights global warming.

Supporting local farmers also saves nearby farms from getting paved over and developed. That’s especially helpful when you’re saving small family farms, because they farm differently from factory farms.

Factory farms plant miles and miles of monocrops. That’s unnatural, and it forces them to fight nature with more pesticides and artificial fertilizers.

Our family farmers use sustainable methods that work with nature. Sustainable methods create healthy ecosystems that are good for the soil, water, and air – a rich patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, and ponds. That kind of greenspace actually takes carbon out of the atmosphere. Plus it’s the perfect habitat for wildlife.

Recycle your box for reuse

As for the second thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, it’s so easy! Just help us reuse our boxes. On delivery day, leave your empty Seasonal Roots delivery box from the week before next to your cooler. Your neighborhood market manager will whisk it away so we can use it again next week.

As you can see from the photo, veggie fairies like Margo L who deliver your local food really love it when you leave out last week’s box so we can all save energy and trees!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.