Pickles from Berkeley’s Cultured, a winner at the inaugural Good Food Awards.
Pickles from Berkeley’s Cultured, a winner at the inaugural Good Food Awards.

Three Berkeley artisan food producers emerged victorious at the inaugural Good Food Awards which were presented at San Francisco’s Ferry Building on January 14. The awards celebrate food purveyors who marry great flavor with responsible food production and are divided into seven categories: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles and preserves.

In the pickles section, Berkeley’s Cultured on Bancroft won for its spicy oregano purple carrots for which owner Alex Hozven sources ingredients from River Dog Farm in Yolo County. Cultured uses a natural fermentation process which slowly creates a sour flavor and a deeper, more complex final flavor. The product is also alive and therefore good for digestion. Read the story of how Cultured came to be by Berkeleyside food writer Sarah Henry in her July 2010 profile.

Organic gingerbread ale made by award-winner Bison Brewing.

Bison Brewing, a 22-year old brewery run by Daniel Del Grande and George Allen, was a winner in the beer category for its organic gingerbread ale which contains hops from Clearlake, malted barley from Vancouver, WA, and spices from Sonoma.

Bison has robust environmental credentials: it has conducted a carbon footprint analysis of its operations, practices on-site wastewater treatment, and has a standard operations cycle for his cleaning procedures. It is also very involved in its local community. Four years ago, the company moved its operations to Fifth Street from an architect-designed brewery on Telegraph Avenue after the city of Berkeley revoked its manufacturing permit there.

Marsha McBride, owner of Café Rouge which won in the charcuterie category for its smoked beef tongue.

Fourth Street’s Café Rouge, founded in 1996 by meat lover Marsha McBride, was a winner in the charcuterie category for its smoked beef tongue. The awards’ judges said the tongue “epitomized the art of hand-crafted charcuterie”.

Café Rouge has a long history of showcasing the meat and poultry of ranchers who steward their land with care. Staffer Scott Brennan began to buy a cow a month to experiment with butchering whole animals, different cuts, brining and smoking. The restaurant and in-house meat market sources its beef from Magruder Ranch in Ukiah. The steers are an Angus Shorthorn cross and are raised on organic feed, organic pastures, and without the use of antibiotics.

Of the new awards, Henry says: “Each artisan’s product was chosen for taste, of course, but also for purity of ingredients, and the food producer’s commitment to crafting a food product in a sustainable and ethical way. Each won for just one item in their repertoire, but each small food business is known for producing quality products made from organic, local, seasonal, sustainably raised ingredients.”

The Good Food Awards, which were organized by Seedling Projects in collaboration with a group of food producers, chefs, food writers and passionate food-lovers, set out to recognize truly good food — “the kind that brings people together and builds strong, healthy communities”.

Interested in issues surrounding doing business in Berkeley? Be sure to attend Berkeleyside’s first Local Business Forum on Monday January 24, 7-9pm at the Freight & Salvage. Doors open at 6.30 and it’s free.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...