Jordan "Uri" Laio
A Master Fer(mentor) "Uri" grew Brassica and Brine out of a love for natural produce and a fascination with the art of fermentation. At once nutritious, delishious (and kosher), Brassica and Brine is producing a variety of mouthwatering flavors such as fan favorite The Four Thieves - featured in February's Basket.
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
I fell in love with fermented vegetables while living on a small
organic farm in Connecticut in 2008. Then in 2010 I did a short stage with Alex Hozven at Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley, CA, where I saw a working model of fermentation as career and art form. That experience convinced me to start my own business.
Tell us about your products.
All our vegetables are organically grown in California, and we use
only certified organic spices and herbs. Ingredient quality is of
utmost importance because we use Old World wild fermentation
methods--no water added, no vinegar added, no lab-grown cultures added. Then we age each batch for 4-8 weeks which provides a unique depth of flavor.
What Does Being A Small-Batch “Craftsman” Mean To You?
It means I have literally worked on every single jar of Brassica and
Brine product myself. I have helpers, but I'm involved every step of the way. I am the one who inspects the cabbage when it arrives from the farm. I am chopping the cabbage, kneading the salt and spices in, and tasting the finished batch to make sure it's ready. I even apply the labels by hand, myself.
What is your favorite small-batch treat?
Honestly, I'm newly married as of three months ago and my wife's
baking is my favorite small batch treat. Currently not for sale though.
What Drew You To Food?
Farming actually drew me to food. My time participation in Adamah: The Jewish Farming Fellowship in 2008 laid the foundation for my passion for food. When you're growing your own heirloom veggies, milking your own goats, gathering your own eggs each morning, it leaves a huge impression regarding what food can look like.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
Nowadays I'm greatly inspired in my professional life by my fellow
food crafters and food entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, especially by Instragram photos. Pascal Bauder is doing amazing work. The girls behind Red Bread, the creative minds behind Bestia and Sqirl. In my personal food journey, I'm inspired by authors like Tamar Adler, Sandor Katz, and Sally Fallon.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
I used to make seasonal specialties which would rotate depending which veggies were coming into season. I've developed a number of favorites out of those specialties which I hope to introduce as year round products, like Moroccan pickled lemons, sauerruben, and sauerkraut champignons (a sauerkraut spiced with three different mushrooms).
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
From my own products, Kimchi Karma is my favorite. I love the heat and complexity of flavor. I also loved my seasonal fermented sour dill pickles. I only made them one summer a few years ago, but I still have people asking about them at the farmers market.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
I'm perennially into lemons at this time of year. Lemon curd, pickled
lemons, spritz of lemon in my salads. I can't say I'm obsessed but
pretty into it.
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
Oven roasted pastured chicken thighs from Grown and Behold and organic kale and celery salad downed with my own basil and lime kombucha.
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
Funny you ask. I would answer Sandor Katz, the person who inspired me most in my passion for fermentation. But he actually tasted my kraut on a recent Sunday at the San Diego Fermentation Festival and loved it. Checked that off my bucket list.
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other craftsmen?
One piece of advice I appreciated was to be proud of my product. Of
course I'm proud, but sometimes people ask "Why is this jar of
sauerkraut this price? The sauerkraut at my supermarket is 1/3 of that." What some people don't realize is that this is some of the best sauerkraut being made in the United States right now, and that other sauerkraut brand is some of the worst. We're doing everything by hand with the very best quality ingredients. That all costs us more, but the end product is worth it. Don't be scared to be confident in your product, and your pricing.
The advice I would give to other food crafters is to realize that
there is a huge business aspect to making and selling food to the
public. There are permits, bookkeeping, taxes, insurance, developing relationships. It's not just making and selling food. So make sure you hone some business skills before you dive in head first to pursue your passion.
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?I keep strictly kosher so my options are a little limited. I really love Basil in Brooklyn, NY. I wish we had a kosher restaurant like
that here in LA.
What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
I enjoy spending time with my wife, gardening, biking, hiking,
cruising the coast on my Vespa, and reading, especially farming or
food related books.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
I've got a playlist on Spotify that we listen to over and over in the
kitchen. Includes a little Quiet Riot, a little John Mellencamp, a
little Rolling Stones, a little Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen. It's a
What is your favorite recipe to make with The Four Theives?
Honestly, I don't usually cook with the kraut. Eating it raw preserves
the probiotics and enzymes. I use it a side dish with most meals, but
one that I especially enjoy is sunny side up eggs, toast, and Four