A loan of $5,000 helped purchase fresh pressed pomegranate juice in order to double my grenadine production.

Jennifer's story

I have always made things with my hands.

As a shy child I perched next to my father in the basement, watching intently as he tinkered. I made bean bag throw games by banging scraps of wood together with the adult hammer. In junior high, a couple of years after he died, I would sit on his stool and dismantle clocks, reassembling them around new faces I had carefully stenciled to look like the Swatch watches so fashionable at the time. In high school this led to soldering jewelry that I was too afraid to wear lest it drew unwanted attention.

Food was there too: after eating as many of the toffee pieces in the See's assortment we bought every Christmas as I could without getting in trouble, to find a recipe for English toffee in the Joy of Cooking, one of two cookbooks my mother owned, was too exciting to pass up. Combined with an insatiable sweet tooth, by the time I entered high school I had made every one of the recipes in that Candies and Confections chapter, even when it meant finding ingredients in unorthodox places. Glycerine, necessary for salt water taffy, is best found in a pharmacy rather than a grocery store.

I began college and studying theatre, but after realizing I needed to be making concrete things, I left to learn woodworking. Trade school led to art school, while I supported myself tending bar. Several pieces of mine had been shown and sold in galleries, but the lonely artist lifestyle left me restless. So I immersed myself in bartending.

At the Slanted Door I began making ingredients for our cocktails: syrups, candied garnishes, liqueur-infused marshmallows, bitters-infused ice. After spending months perfecting a historical version of orgeat, an almond syrup whose history and tradition had been subsumed by the industrialization of food production, several other San Francisco bartenders wanted to buy it from me, and I began Small Hand Foods in earnest. I added five more flavors in the subsequent years.

Art school taught me an incredibly valuable lesson: If you want someone to pay for your art, you need to consider your audience. When I began bottling syrups for bartenders, I paid attention to how they were going to be used. Bottles that fit into a speed rail, necks that fit a pour spout, and appropriate sugar levels to make a delicious and not overly sweet cocktail, were all attributes I wanted to achieve. I have used my syrups every shift for five years, as have many of the most prominent bartenders in the bay area. I ultimately would like to release several more flavors and possibly expand into the coffee market.

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About Small Hand Foods

Industry: Food
Years in operation: More than 5 years
Website: SmallHandFoods.com


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