Bite Club: Tasty upcycling food startup

Wind & Rye Kitchen strives to make use of the overbounty of produce.|

Wind and Rye: Upcycling Tomatoes? What do you do when life gives you 1,500 pounds of ripe, slightly bruised tomatoes? Make a whole lot of tomato sauce, Bloody Mary mix, and tomato jam.

That’s the idea behind Wind & Rye Kitchen, a startup food project imagined by pastry chef/farmer Laci Sandoval. In just a few months, with nothing more than a truck, a borrowed kitchen and a willing local chef, she’s transformed, literally, tons of produce headed for the compost pile into shelf-stable, commercially salable products. Meaning a whole lot of tasty spaghetti sauce.

It seems the bounty of Sonoma County is sometimes a bit too bountiful, with up to 30 percent(!) of farm market produce going to waste because of minor bruises and blemishes. Working with nearby County Line Harvest in Petaluma and Backyard Kitchen in Forestville, Sandoval has rescued and upcycled these well-worn tomatoes into bottled deliciousness. Talk about waste not, want not.

The Wind & Rye Kitchen pilot program she began this summer is just a peek at what Sandoval is envisioning: A large shared commercial kitchen, food incubator, classroom and gathering spot within financial reach of the average Sonoma County eater.

Sandoval launched a $40,000 Kickstarter campaign this week with the goal of converting an old barn on her property into a commercial kitchen. With a dearth of affordable shared commercial kitchens in Sonoma County, it opens the door to small farms who may want to “test” creating a prepared product without the steep financial investment involved.

In addition to the kitchen, Sandoval hopes to create reasonably-priced farm dinners, cooking classes and events that keep the focus on local foods.

“Wind & Rye Kitchen was created to celebrate our personal relationship with food through the ritual of eating on special occasions and in our daily lives. Whether you’re looking for the perfect wedding cake or a memorable meal shared with friends under a starry night sky, we welcome you to feast with us,” said Sandoval. To contribute to the Wind & Rye Kickstarter campaign, go to


Bistro Ralph Closing, Long Live Ralph! For months there’s been speculation about the future of Bistro Ralph on the Healdsburg plaza. BiteClub’s got the scoop that owner Ralph Tingle is selling the eponymous restaurant, with his last day of service slated for Nov. 8.

“Twenty two years inside these walls in enough,” said Tingle. But don’t expect him to be off the radar for long.

Tingle plans to open a Healdsburg roadhouse restaurant with a full bar and beer garden next summer.

“I’m reinventing myself,” he said.

As for the fate of Bistro Ralph? Tingle said the new owners (who he won’t yet name) are planning to operate the restaurant as Bistro Ralph for the rest of 2014, then remodel and rename the restaurant as something else.

Big names involved? We suspect so, as Ralph’s is some prime downtown Hburg real estate.


Michelin Bib Gourmands SF Bay 2015 Announced: It’s Michelin season! As a preview to the big stars that will be announced Tuesday, the restaurant rating guide has announced its San Francisco Bay Area Bib Gourmand Awards.

The award is a huge feather in the caps of moderately-priced restaurants (i.e. the ones most of us can actually afford) and a definite pathway to the stars. This year’s Bib winners for Wine Country are: Backyard (Forestville), Bistro Jeanty (Yountville), Bistro 29 (Santa Rosa), C Casa (Napa), Chalkboard (Healdsburg), Cook (St. Helena), The Farmer & The Fox (St. Helena) *NEW, Grace’s Table (Napa), Glen Ellen Star (Glen Ellen), Hot Box Grill (Sonoma, under new ownership), La Salette (Sonoma), Monti’s Rotisserie (Santa Rosa), Oenotri (Napa), Redd Wood (Yountville), Risibisi (Petaluma), Sazon (Santa Rosa), Scopa (Healdsburg), The Girl and The Fig (Sonoma), Willi’s Wine Bar (Santa Rosa). Falling off this year’s list: Boon Eat & Drink (Guerneville).


Burnt Ends (The Tasty Bits): Was that Chef Duskie Estes of Zazu Restaurant + Farm making BLTs on KQED’s Simply Ming last Friday? You bet. Watch for future broadcasts on KQED Life.

Chef Michael Chiarello hosts Food and Wine Editor Dana Cowin at his Yountville restaurant, Bottega, on Wednesday, Oct. 22. Dubbed the “first lady of food”, Cowan will be introducing her new book, “Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen” (Ecco, $34.99).

The book lays bare her many kitchen mishaps (including an infamous bout with a blender) with course correction techniques on everything from 65 of her favorite chef buddies, from Eric Ripert (on her lobster sauce), Ming Tsai (potstickers), Thomas Keller (chicken) and Jonathan Waxman (turkey).

Presented in conjunction with Book Passage, $140 per person includes a meal, wine and signed book. Details online at

Still hungry? Check out Heather’s always updated food and dining blog at

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