Oct. 2 marked the showcase kickoff event of the Union Kitchen’s new location in the Ivy City neighborhood of Washington. The Union Kitchen is a food incubator where local small businesses are able to use a full-service kitchen, distribution systems, marketing and legal services and more to establish their operations and sell their products, all for a monthly fee.
The Union Kitchen opened its location in Ivy City in the summer of 2015, after outgrowing its first location in NoMa.
“For friends of the kitchen, it’s really great to see what we talk about every day happening in front of them, to see the diversity of products and diversity of business owners; it’s a visual representation of what we’re working to do here in the kitchen,” said Mary Beth Marks, director of marketing and partnerships for Union Kitchen.
On Friday, 72 vendors within the Union Kitchen came together with about 200 distributors, local business owners and members of the community to get a taste of D.C.’s small local business scene. Here are some of the highlights and favorite dishes from the night:
1. Mondiale Dressing Co., Las Vegas and Tokyo Dressings
The Las Vegas dressing from Mondiale Dressing Co. was bold and creamy, combining the flavors of Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses, as well as anchovies and fresh cracked peppercorn. The Tokyo dressing, a sesame-ginger vinaigrette, was light and fresh, with a combination of nutty sesame, tangy ginger, soy and garlic. Co-owners and twin sisters Taiwo Scanlon and Kehinde Waterman, create their all-natural small-batch salad dressings with high-quality ingredients, inspired by different locations and flavors from around the world. This November, they will launch in stores with the Las Vegas, Tokyo, Istanbul and Provence dressings.
2. ‘Chups, Fruit Ketchups
‘Chups fruit ketchups are a rich, authentic new product that combats the classic processed taste of tomato ketchup. ‘Chups, created by husband-and-wife team Matt and Kori Wallace, takes real whole fruits, vinegar and spices and makes a savory, tangy condiment that can be put on almost anything. ‘Chups can be used as a ketchup, a BBQ glaze, a jam and more. Their website even includes a recipes section, which features all the ways to use their ‘Chups. Their five original flavors are blueberry, cherry, mango, plum and peach. They also currently have a pumpkin-flavored ‘chups for all your zesty fall cravings. You can find them in many stores, including MOM’s Organic Markets in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, the Union Kitchen Grocery, and Glen’s Garden Market in D.C.
3. Bright Greens, Smoothie Shakers
Bright Greens’ Smoothie Shakers not only take the work and mess out of making smoothies, but they taste delicious too. For college kids who want an easy healthy breakfast on the go, Smoothie Shakers are the answer we’ve all been waiting for. The flavors are Bright Blueberry, Mintergreen, Peaches and Green and Pineapolis. Owner Brian Mitchell and the team blend each smoothie in the Union Kitchen and then fast-freezes them into ice cubes, which are packaged in disposable bags. To make the smoothies, add a little hot water to a jar and pour the whole package of smoothie cubes on top, then close the jar and shake. The cubes become a cold, delicious and nutritious green smoothie. Bright Greens’ smoothies are also full of nutrients that don’t degrade by sitting on trucks or store shelves. The fast-freezing process locks in vital nutrients and helps them stay fresh for months. You can find them in Whole Foods, Glen’s Garden Market, the Union Kitchen Grocery and more.
4. Popcorn Queens, Cinnamon Apple Popcorn
The Popcorn Queens’ Cinnamon Apple popcorn was sweet. zestful and crunchy. The crispy popcorn was topped with a cinnamon-caramel sauce and thin apple chips made with real apples. Mother-daughter team April and Bonnie Wardlaw started their business just more than a year ago after realizing the popcorn Bonnie had made as gifts for fellow employees could be a market success. They currently sell eight delicious and unique flavors including Bourbon Pecan, Buttered Rum. Chesapeake, Chipotle, Cinnamon Apple, Classic Caramel, Peanut and Salted. You can find them at different farmers markets and events around the D.C. area.
5. Capital Kombucha, Peach Kombucha
Capital Kombucha’s Peach Kombucha is a sweet, fizzy drink that is light yet bold and full of tangy flavor. The Peach flavor was made from kombucha, fresh peaches and agave. What is kombucha exactly? Besides being the latest healthy drink trend, it is a drink made using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast to ferment sweetened tea. This fermentation process is believed to support a healthy gut and strong immune system. Their flavors include Basil Lemongrass, Cherry Blossom, Coconut Water, Cucumber Melon, Ginger, Mango Chili, Mint Lime, Peach, Strawberry and Granny Smith. You can find them in Trader Joe’s stores and Safeways around the Maryland and D.C. area.
6. Ruby Scoops, Snickerdoodle Ice Cream
Cinnamon ice cream is the base for this savory fall treat created by Ruby Scoops owner Rabia Kamara. Homemade buttery snickerdoodle cookies are crumbled into the creamy base for an extra crunch and added flavor. Kamara handcrafts her premium small-batch ice creams, sorbets, sherbets and desserts from scratch at the Union Kitchen using locally sourced dairy, cage-free eggs, cane sugar and seasonal fruits from local farms. In addition to the online store, you can find Ruby Scoops at farmers markets in the D.C. area and soon at the Union Kitchen Grocery store.
7. Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., Buttermilk Biscuits
The Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. brings a taste of wholesome southern flavors to D.C. with their classic buttermilk biscuit. The Mema Mary’s homemade Bumbleberry jam on top brings just the right amount of natural sweetness to the rich, crumbly biscuit. Mason Dixie Biscuits have been featured on UberEATS, and you can find them at the Union Market on Thursdays through Sundays from 8 a.m. until they sell out. They also sell decadent ham and jalapeño biscuits and sweetcorn biscuits.
8. Black Pug Smokehouse, Smokey Sweet Pecans and Half-Smoked Peanut Butter
Black Pug Smokehouse’s Smokey Sweet Pecans were the perfect mix of exactly what they claim to be: smoky and sweet. Owner Ted Wanstrath uses a competition-grade smoker in the Union Kitchen to produce his smoky treats. He uses a mix of applewood and oak wood to smoke his products for a deep earthy flavor. Brown sugar, cane sugar and Wanstrath’s homemade barbecue rub caramelize over the pecans and make a sweet gritty bite. The Half-Smoked Peanut Butter is made with local Virginia redskin peanuts, local honey and sea salt. He uses half-smoked peanuts and half-roasted peanuts for a creamy, nutty mixture that isn’t too rough but still delivers a kick from the smoke. Black Pug Smokehouse makes their signature smoked products only from animals free from antibiotics or growth hormones raised through responsible farming practices and provides a list of their product sourcing. You can find them at local farmers markets, the Union Kitchen Grocery, Glen’s Garden Market and The Local Market.
9. Chompz, Cheddar Chompz
The light, crunchy and cheesy Cheddar Chompz were born when owner Emma Shaver decided to cut processed foods out of her diet four years ago and start recreating the foods she missed the most. No. 1 on the list? Cheezits. Shaver makes her unprocessed cheddar crackers using only six whole-food ingredients: cheddar, butter, flour, liquid whey, salt and pepper. She hand-rolls the dough and bakes the snacks to a crunchy, airy perfection. You can find Cheddar Chompz in the Union Kitchen Grocery and Cork Market in D.C. Her next flavor will be a Jalapeño Jack Chompz.
10. Banana Love Muffins, Pumpkin Pie Muffins
Banana Love Muffins’ Pumpkin Pie muffins are made with real pumpkin and a custom blend of pumpkin pie spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and more. Biting into these moist little treats is like taking a bite of fall. In the Pumpkin Pie muffins, pumpkin puree replaces the applesauce that owner Debbi Minkoff Miller typically uses in her muffins to replace any fats, such as butter. Her muffins are also dairy- and egg-free, and use dehydrated cane juice in place of white sugar for a healthy vegan treat that still matches up on taste. Other flavors include the original banana muffins, wild blueberry banana muffins, chocolate chip banana muffins, and walnut banana muffins. You can find them in MOM’s Organic Market, Whole Foods in the DMV area, on Relay Foods, the Union Kitchen Grocery and more.