Meet A Local: Kendra + Baron | Pernicious Pickling
Meet Kendra + Baron - creators behind the Southern California pickling brand, Pernicious Pickling. With a full line of bold pickled products - ranging from traditional pickles, to beets, carrots + cauliflower - Pernicious Pickling melds the flavors of their distinct homelands (Baron is from England + Kendra hails from Missippi) with their new Southern California landscape.
Pernicious Pickling Co.
Artisans: Kendra Coggin & Baron Conway
Costa Mesa, California
What inspired you to start your company?
"Hello!" from this Mississippi gal, Kendra, and English chap, Baron. We’ve been avid lovers of pickles since our mums first slathered Chow-Chow and Piccalilli on our school lunch sandwiches. Now living in Southern California, we were surprised to not find any locally made pickles in our neighborhood shops so we spent the next 15 months perfecting our favorite recipes, garnering the many required state licenses, setting up shop, and Pernicious Pickling Co. was born. Today we have 10 varieties of pickled vegetables – all with bold flavors inspired by our homelands and the richly diverse culture of Southern California.
Tell us about your products:
There's a saying that goes on every jar of Pernicious Pickles: "Pickles ain't just for sandwiches!" – and we believe this with a passion. Our sole focus is on creating great products that are inspired by and celebrate both our heritages and the cultural diversity of Southern California. We bring together fresh ingredients and memorable flavors to create pickles that are as delectable straight out of the jar as they are in the food and drinks we love – whether it be a Pickled Surfer Cocktail, Roasted & Pickled Curry Cauliflower, or Crostini with Creamy Goat Cheese and Dilly Beets.
What does “artisan” mean to you?
While almost everything these days uses the tag “artisanal”, for us it rests on a few fundamental principles that we try to embody not only into the products we make, but also in the way we run our business. They all start with the importance of the personal touch and focus on:
Quality, craftsmanship, innovation, attention to detail, and, of course most importantly, love of what we are doing.
What are your favorite artisanal treats?
The small production Syrahs and Northern Rhone-inspired wines from Linne Calodo, Booker (Paso Robles), and Kunin (Santa Barbara); the Italian-inspired chocolate creations from Valenza Chocolatier (Costa Mesa) and pastas from Baia Pasta (Oakland); Olive Heights’ cocktail bitters (Los Angeles).
What drew you to food?
The easiest way to answer this question is “Babettes Feast”. Which really means that for both of us, so much of our lives, passions and friendships have been centered on food and drink. We both grew up in households where the social center of our houses and families was the kitchen. And this has continued to this day, whether it’s finding new places to eat, creating a recipe for just the two of us, or eating with our family and friends, food excites and delights us. So when we decided we wanted out of the rat race of corporate life and to follow our passions and hearts, food was it.
Where does your food inspiration come from?
Louis Pasteur said, “Chance only favors the prepared mind” and we are true believers of this. We find inspiration everywhere – a Thai curry dish at a favorite restaurant inspires a new flavor combination, gravlax at a Swedish bar leads to a new way of using our Pickled Beets, a drive through Sonoma influences how we speak about our brand, and the list goes on. I think it goes for all creative small business owners that when you love what you do and are dedicated to its success, you look at the world through rose, or in our case, pickle-colored glasses.
What products are you working on now?
Do you have a favorite product?
We love all of our pickle babies equally, but we probably reach for the Pickled Red Onions the most in cooking – swirling into mashed potatoes, topping oysters, replacing vermouth in martinis (don’t forget the garnish!), pairing with grilled fish, etc.
Latest ingredient obsession?
What did you have for dinner last night?
We’ve just returned from a short trip to Barcelona so our dreams are still filled with smoked sardines, pickled white asparagus and peppers, paper cones brimming with tiny cured meats, marinated anchovies, thick hot drinking chocolate, sweet vermouth with slices of lemon on the rocks, and cava, cava, cava.
What person, living or dead, would you most like to have try your product?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten in building your business? What advice would you give other artisans?
(1) Ask for advice and perspective, but take everything with a grain of salt. You know your business and capabilities better than anyone else.
(2) Know the market and find a niche. What makes your product different/better/interesting?
(3) Get your product in front of people by taking advantage of the food/craft shows in your area. In California, we’re very lucky to have such amazing events as Patchwork Show, Unique USA, Artisanal LA, Renegade Craft Fair as well as the Good Food Awards and Winter Fancy Food Show.
(4) Your brand is everything. Every decision you make should be based around “is this good for the brand?” whether it’s participating in an event, taking a class, partnering with another company, introducing a new product, photography, social media post, etc.
What other local food artisans or chefs do you admire?
These chefs/restaurants continually inspire and delight us: Chef Eric Samaniego of Little Sparrow Café; Chef Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria; Chef Noah Blom of Arc Restaurant
If you had to choose your last meal, what would it be?
Anything, as long as we’re surrounded by the people we love.
Favorite restaurant or food experience?
What do you enjoy doing outside of the kitchen?
Surrounding ourselves with happy children, playful dogs, good wine
What’s your favorite kitchen soundtrack?
Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Soundtrack