This year, grocery stores did better. When I write Erin Patinkin to check up on a few things, I make sure her birth place is Chicago. Asked if her hot dogs had any other ingredients she added to them: “Nope,” she says. “I only put mustard, relish, pickle, peppers, tomato, and onion on them.” Confirmed! If you’ve been a long-time friend of the Ovenly baker and cookbook author turned entrepreneur and food business adviser, you recently met for coffee in Kingston, New York.
We talked about the future of food: grocery trends, new cooking tools, and cuisines that want to be better represented in the CPG world.
It made me think about what to expect in the new year, both the challenges we’ll face as well as the small glimmer of hope that we might be able to shake off the shock of a two-year pandemic. Later, I sent Patinkin an email and asked her for some ideas about what to look for in 2022. She was cool enough to write back. She has worked with some of the most interesting food brands in the world, most of which are run by women. These include Kismet, Pineapple Collaborative, Pop Up Grocery, Seed + Mill, and many more.
After co-founding Ovenly and Seemore, you went on to work as a food consultant and mentor. You focus on businesses run by women. What do you do for a living?
If you’re a start-up, I help you grow and organise so you can get money from a seed or seed round. There are many ways to work together to set up standard operating procedures, revise financial statements, and change the way high-level operations work, from identifying co-packers and developing supply chain solutions to building decks and developing five-year financial models. In addition, founders and I look at vision, mission, and values very closely and think about how to make good jobs and be more environmentally friendly in every day life. This is what we do. I work with a lot of companies that make consumer packaged goods (CPG) in grocery food, but a small number of them also make CPG or sell CPG or sell CPG or sell CPG or sell CPG in fashion or beauty.
Do you know how brands find you? What are you looking for in a company that you work with?
Besides a single Instagram post from a long time ago, it has all been word of mouth, mostly from people who have known each other.
Predicting the time. Is there going to be a big change in the way food is made by 2022?
During the pandemic, many companies’ flaws were exposed. A lot of the new trends will be about how to deal with them (like supply chain and retention). Some of the things I’m thinking about are as follow:
Restaurant automation: Before the pandemic, quick-service restaurants were already using automated technology. I think smaller businesses will start looking for the same things now, too, because they can save money and time. As of fall 2021, there are 10 million open jobs, but only 8.4 million unemployed people. If the restaurant industry is going to be long-term, we should look into some automated solutions, especially when it comes to order taking.
Frozen food sales are going through the roof. Frozen food was almost as good as fresh in 2020, and having food in your freezer is great and can help you get through any food shortages. I think we’re going to see more and more companies start making frozen foods, like Kajaana, one of the brands I’m working on.
What kind of food do you wish people would pay more attention to?
Peruvian, and Liman is the city. I’ve had some of the best food experiences of my life at restaurants in New York City that serve Peruvian food. I want more!
Our job is to be in the food media. What are we not doing? Is there a storey in 2021 that you think should have been talked about more?
We hear a lot about problems in the supply chain all the time, but not enough about how those problems could change how companies source their goods. When Aramark talks about getting more of their food from local sources, it gives me hope that this could be good for local food systems and farms (both indoor and outdoor). People who go to farmers’ markets and buy food from farms are becoming more popular. CSAs sold out in the Hudson Valley in about a minute last year. I hope that’s the case for a long time.
You have written a cookbook together. Are you going to write more? What would you like to do, and with whom?
I did, thanks! Last year, Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York’s Most Creative Bakery was reprinted. It has recipes for both sweet and salty foods. These days, I’m more interested in the business of grocery food and how to write how-to guides that people can use. There are likely to be more books in that vein. As for writing another cookbook, it would be a mix of recipes from my grandmother, who lived in both the United States and Serbia. It would be a memoir and a book of recipes. I could bring in Diana Spechler to help with the stories, Ana Ortiz to help with the recipes, and Kelly Marshall to help with the photos, too. Or I could write a book with a thousand recipes for soup.