Chef Dakota Weiss not only curated a box with The FareTrade, she's also the maker behind one of the featured products! Dakota's Pop Parlor.
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
It started sort of as an accident. I did a themed dinner for Valentines one year and it was called “Night of a 1,000 Spices” After about 156 spices I was running out of ingredients to use and was trying to figure out a way to pack in more so I made a Toffee popcorn (which is now called Curried Pig) I walked around the kitchen and my Banquet Chef was frying bacon and I tossed some of that in. My Pastry chef was making a Curry Yogurt, so I tossed in some curry powder and then I walked by the salad station and tossed in some smoked Pistachios…mixed it up and tasted it and was blown away at how all of the flavors came together. I sent every guest home with a bag of the popcorn and we had several people call back and ask about it and where they could buy it. So after lot’s of going back and forth about weather or not to step out of my comfort zone I decided to make it a small company.
Tell us about your products.
I started Dakota’s Pop Parlor 13 Toffee Based Popcorns. I like to play around with Salty / Sweet / Spicy Mixtures. For about a year I stuck with just those 13 flavors, but true to my nature I got bored of making the same flavors over and over again. I decided to branch out a bit and make some Air Popped flavors that are more on the savory side and healthier as well. A fun simple one being Oh My Butter! This one is made with a dehydrated Goats Milk Butter and Sea Salt. I have also added some really fun Chocolate covered flavors as well, such as Ninja Fuel which is White Chocolate, Wasabi Oil, Coconut and Black Sesame Seeds. The newest Chocolate flavor being one of my absolute faves is a simple Key Lime Pie, I am using a White Chocolate base, fresh Key Lime Zest, Graham Cracker Crumbs and Sea Salt. It’s really really good.
What Does Being A Small-Batch “Craftsman” Mean To You?
That’s sort of a loaded questions… :) But really what it means to me is that I am able to make the product myself personally from start to finish. It allows me to wear many hats. I am proud of my product because I source all of my ingredients locally and organic (when possible) I make each batch of popcorn by hand so I have total control of the outcome and I am always 100% confident of the end result.
What is your favorite small-batch treat?
I am really loving everything that Lemon Bird Jams is producing. One of my new obsessions is the Yuzu Kosho they are making. It’s the perfect balance of Sour, Salty and Spicy. It make one hell of a delicious Michelada!
What Drew You To Food?
My mother was a super hippie who made all of our baby food from scratch and never let us have any artificial foods. As a child I did not appreciate this but now looking back on it I am so thankful. I knew what food (real food) tasted like. Even though I was a super picky eater as a child I do believe what my mother cooked for me and my sister growing up is what led me to a career in food.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
My inspiration for food and dishes comes from everywhere. I am inspired by music, art, seasons, smells and especially other chefs.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
Right now I have really been focusing on both of my restaurants. As one of them is growing pretty fast I am working on the expansion plan and consistency of product. Even though every shop has the recipes and everyone who makes the sauces follow those recipes does not always mean they all taste the same. You have no idea how hard it is to do.
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
You really can’t beat a super yummy and smoky salt. I like to use different woods to smoke my own salt. They add so much flavor to your food and I even use them on desserts!
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
Fish Sauce…it really adds the most amazing kick of salt and umami flavor to anything you add it to.
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
Last night was a simple Grilled Chicken Taco Salad with fresh Queso and Pickled Peppers.
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
Robin Williams, he would most likely have something pretty funny to say about the popcorn and the unusual flavors.
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other craftsmen?
The best piece of advice would have been from my father, which was “NEVER have a business partner, do it yourself and make your own decisions and policies”
Advise I would give to other Craftsmen would have to be…Believe in what you do, love every aspect of your craft and make it fun.
What Other Local Food Craftsmen or Chefs Do You Admire?
I would have to refer back to Craftman and Wolves, William Werner is San Francisco. I have so much admiration for his passion in what he does. He gives everything 150%. He has dominated his brand and owns it every piece of it. His talent is by far some of the best I have ever seen. And through all of his many years of success he keeps it real and is incredibly humble. Carlo at Big Sur Salts is inspiring as well. He makes some amazing product that taste great and are so beautiful.
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
My mom’s roasted Chicken with Fresh Shaved White Truffles.
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?
I recently had the pleasure of eating at Atelier Crenn. It was most unique and so delicious.
What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
I love to head up to the Central Coast and check out the amazing wineries and farms. I am a super huge fan of sleeping in and snuggling with my two pups Chaplin and Costello. Sometimes it’s a big treat to stay in my PJ’s all day and sip Champagne and watch movies.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
It changes depending on my mood but a familiar go to album would have to be anything from M83 and Silversun Pick Ups…
What is your favorite go-to comfort food?
I love a simple piece of torn Warm Sourdough Bread with a cultured Butter and the Old Red Sea Salt sprinkled on top. And you can’t beat a Butterscotch Cookie with the Salt on top as well.