10 Philly Food Artisans You Should Know

By Danya Henninger  |  April 7, 2014

Shopping for locally made food is back in style, and choices are getting more plentiful by the month. Meet 10 food and drink makers whose products you will want to make an effort to seek out, and find out where to score those goods - be it at farmer’s markets, gourmet groceries, in restaurants or online.

  • Ari Miller of 1732 Meats

    Why We Love Him: Miller has a law degree, but bacon is his passion. His whole family gets involved with this hobby-turned-profession - his two young daughters plan to take over the business when he’s ready to retire.
    Signature Item: Garlic Insanity bacon - it’s like garlic bread, only in cured pork-belly form
    Where to Buy: Di Bruno Bros., Fair Food Farmstand
    Where to Try: Grilled quail with pancetta at Osteria Moorestown; latkes with poached eggs and black peppercorn bacon at The Avenue Deli; bacon-wrapped rabbit saddle at The Farm & Fisherman.

  • Neal Santos and Andrew Olson of Farm 51

    Why We Love Them: Santos freely admits he had no previous farm experience - he’s a city-born pro photographer - but partner Olson is a talented urban horticulturist. Together they restored a vacant lot in West Philly into a lush garden where vegetables grow and chickens roam.
    Signature Item: In addition to fresh eggs, flowers and produce, don’t miss the honey from the farm apiary.
    Where to Buy: Farm 51 farmstand
    Where to Try: Scott Schroeder of South Philadelphia Tap Room is a huge fan. For an evening snack, he recommends warming some apple slices in butter and honey and serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

  • Mark Fischer of Castle Valley Mill

    Why We Love Him: Modern mills are efficient, but they can’t match the flavor that you get from stone-ground grains. Fischer puts local corn, wheat and spelt through his refurbished 1800s machines to produce flours and polentas with unparalleled texture and taste.
    Signature Item: Stone-ground whole wheat
    Where to Buy: Wyebrook Farm, Swarthmore Co-op
    Where to Try: Castle Valley corn porridge and many breads at High Street on Market; grits at The Twisted Tail or Pub & Kitchen.

  • Megan Gibson of PB&Jams

    Why We Love Her: A former health and phys ed teacher by profession and vinyl-spinning DJ for fun, Gibson has always loved peanut butter. Last year she decided to leap into business for herself with a whole line of healthy nut butters, all locally sourced and naturally made.
    Signature Item: Maple walnut butter (and classic PB)
    Where to Buy: Fitler Square Farmer’s Market, Tela’s Market & Kitchen, Overbrook Farmer’s Market

  • Marcos Espinoza and Mark Novasack of Side Project Jerky

    Why We Love Them: These men have elevated jerky out of the Slim Jim realm into something area chefs are clamoring to collaborate on, and the flavors that come from these partnerships - pho jerky? coffee jerky? - are both unique and delicious.
    Signature Item: Mongolian beef jerky
    Where to Buy: COOK, Green Aisle Grocery, Tela’s Market & Kitchen
    Where to Try: Bags are sold as a snack at Bar in Midtown Village and Garage on East Passyunk.

  • Steve Slutsky of Zayda’s Foods

    Why We Love Him: Steve the Pickle Man rides a toilet. Yes, really. Set atop a platform on a tricycle, the porcelain throne provides both a place to sit and a container to carry the jars of snappy, vinegary pickles.
    Signature Item: Kosher hot pickles
    Where to Buy: Swiacki Meats, online
    Where to Try: Cosmi’s Deli, alongside a hoagie

  • Shelby and Amy Zitelman of Soom Foods

    Why We Love Them: With the help of a third sister in Israel, Jackie Horovitz, these women are introducing Philadelphia and surrounding areas to real-deal tahini - a rich sesame paste that is good for much more than just hummus.
    Signature Item: Tahini made from roasted and pressed Ethiopian white humera sesame seeds
    Where to Buy: Weaver’s Way Co-Op, Milk & Honey Market, Essene Market
    Where to Try: Hummus at Zahav; Thai sesame wings at The Gaslight; falafel at American Sardine Bar

  • Hank and Steve Freecon of Frecon Farms

    Why We Love Them: With cider maker Jamie Bock, these brothers took over the 80-year-old family orchards and added exquisite hard ciders to the pressed-apple product line.
    Signature Item: Hogshead Dry Cider
    Where to Buy: Frecon Farms retail store, Sly Fox Pottstown, Rittenhouse Farmer’s Market
    Where to Try: Fitler Dining Room and Tria Taproom both often have Frecon hard ciders on their beverage menus.

  • Arlene Kaufman of Karma Krisps

    Why We Love Her: After trying crispy, nutty, totally-unlike-store-bought crackers during a ski trip to Canada, Kaufman was unable to find them anywhere in the U.S. After two years of R&D, she hit on the perfect recipe and now offers her “krisps” in four flavors.
    Signature Item: Raisin-rosemary-pecan Karma Krisps
    Where to Buy: PhillyGoFresh.com

  • Tegan Hagy of LoveBar Chocolates

    Why We Love Her: After meeting cacao farmers from Mexico at a slow-food conference, Hagy began importing their beans and started the Philadelphia region’s first “bean-to-bar” chocolate-making operation. Bars are made in microbatches and come in wrappers covered with hand-painted artwork.
    Signature Item: 62% dark chocolate bar
    Where to Buy: Headhouse Farmer’s Market, PA General Store
    Where to Try: Pick up a bar to go with an espresso at Capogiro or Milk & Honey Market.