Today I have a great guest post about a unique restaurant concept in the works in Berkeley CA. The new cafe about to launch in September is called Mission Heirloom Garden Cafe.
Yrmis Barroeta and her partner Bobby Chang co-founded Mission Heirloom in 2013. After solid careers in fashion and product design, respectively, they both found themselves frustrated with their food choices. They found their lives were much improved by following therapeutic diet protocols, but couldn’t find anything delicious and convenient. Five years of research, testing and being nothing but guinea pigs lead to the creation of Mission Heirloom—a platform to explore and discover foods that best enhance performance!
I had the pleasure of sitting down for lunch recently with the crew and owners. I was treated to the most delicious lunch complete with an amazing crunch from gluten free crackers and curry favored homemade ghee. The other option with truffle salt and ghee, simply divine. That was just the starter! The lamb meatballs as the entree was out of this world. I am happy to report Christian Phernetton, Head Chef of this project is certainly the right candidate for this restaurant! After a rigorous large response from the culinary world, he was picked to head up this creative project. I am excited to see what comes in the future!!
I asked KATE WILLIAMS, part of this project and experienced writer to highlight their concept for us! Please welcome Kate as she gives us a glimpse into this revolutionary new cafe.
A More Virtuous Food Chain
My name is Kate, and I’m here to tell you about Mission: Heirloom, a new food company that is revolutionizing the concept of healthful eating. I know that as readers of Trish’s blog, you’re all interested in nutrition and health-promoting foods. But while you may want to cook and serve the most nutrient-dense foods at home, we recognize that it isn’t always possible. That’s where we step in.
We believe that the route to a strong body and a striving planet is through sourcing, preparing, and serving meals that are healthy, delicious, and (most of all) joyful. We combine the latest dietary research with creative culinary ideas to create fully prepared nutrient-rich stews and soups. Our inspiration comes from comfort food all over the world, merging the best flavors we taste with our high nutritional standards. Each meal is designed with flexibility in mind—customize at home and play to your heart’s content.
Right now, Mission: Heirloom is in beta. We’re still tweaking, testing, and tasting our way through our culinary ideas. During beta testing, customers in the Bay Area can order meal sets on a weekly basis for pick-up and delivery. Come this fall, we will open our first cafe in North Berkeley, and will only continue to expand from there.
But while there are plenty of food companies selling fairly healthful food, we are not an ordinary restaurant. We go above and beyond. We are scrupulous in our avoidance of toxins in everything from the food we serve to the air we breath. Believe me when I say that our kitchen is cleaner than clean.
Furthermore, we recognize that everyone has different food allergies and intolerances—instead of begrudgingly accommodating them, we view these requirements as culinary opportunities. We look at each person’s individual needs first.
How do we do it? Here’s a closer look at our own personal “food chain:”
We only use the best ingredients we can find, sourced from organic, biodynamic, and other good-hearted suppliers. We’ve formed relationships with each farm with whom we work so that we have a thorough understanding of their farming practices and products. We consider the sourcing of every item that comes into our kitchen—from pork to peppercorns. Many of our vegetables come from the Berkeley farmers’ markets, and we especially love Full Belly and Riverdog farms.
Ingredients like animal proteins can be tricky, and we are super strict about what proteins enter the kitchen. All of our animal proteins are raised on outdoors and are fed only what nature intended (no corn, soy, or GMO-feed). We are especially conscious about our pork sourcing, as it is challenging to find pigs that haven’t been fed GMO corn.
Our kitchen is strictly gluten-, grain-, and soy-free, so we take extra care to make sure that everything we bring in has been prepared with the same standards. This means there will never be any cross-contamination in our spices, flours, and nuts.
In our commissary kitchen in West Berkeley, we take the extra steps to ensure a clean, toxin-free workspace with no chance of cross contamination. Our kitchen is located in a shared space, so we need to take even more steps to ensure that things like stray gluten particles never reach our food. To do so, we have negative ion air purifiers located in the kitchen that clean the air and eliminate airborne toxins. We’ve placed a rug right near the entrance to trap any additional contaminants that come in through the door.
We also use a zero-waste reverse osmosis machine (the first ever) to filter city water. The machine also reintroduces our own blend of minerals back into the water to optimize flavor and nutrition.
Another way we eliminate toxins is by making our own cutting boards out of single pieces of food-safe wood. We’ve learned that the wood glue used in store-bought cutting boards (yes, even Boos blocks) can contain leachable toxins like formaldehyde, so we’ve created our own toxin-free boards, cured with coconut oil, beeswax, and salt.
Finally, we never cook with aluminum and non-stick pans. We only use inert, heavy-duty stainless steel to prevent the leaching of metallic flavors and chemicals into our foods.
The cooking is where the real magic happens. We’ve done countless hours of research to determine the most beneficial (and least harmful) culinary methods. Some of these ideas will likely be familiar to you:
● Everything in our kitchen is 100% made from scratch
● We are careful to prepare each dish with optimal nutrient density in mind (for example, we always cook our greens with an abundance of fat so that the fat-soluble vitamins are accessible).
● You’ll never see canned or processed foods in our kitchen—except for organic, unrefined extra-virgin olive and coconut oil. Refined oils, commercial sugars, binders, and emulsifiers have no place in our diets.
However, we also take several more steps to go above and beyond what you’ll find in any other restaurant:
● We determine the best balance of our head-to-tail meat, optimizing vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. The healthiest way to eat meat is to cook with as many different cuts as possible, prepared in the same proportions as they appear in the animal itself. Meatballs are a great way to incorporate an array of animal cuts into your meal. Our meatballs are around 1/4 organ meats and 3/4 muscle meat, just like they appear in the full body of the animal.
● We cook our proteins at low heat and high humidity to preserve the integrity of each protein molecule, eliminate oxidation, and prevent the formation of excess free glutamates in the our meats. This method also helps to preserve the good stuff—vitamins, minerals, and a moist, tender texture.
● We also never mix proteins with sugars or vinegar. Both catalyze reactions in the protein once the meat hits the heat, which lead to the formation of a couple of different potent carcinogens.
● We believe that the most optimal diet is also a grain- and legume-free one. Instead, we celebrate the abundance of meat, vegetables, fruits, and wholesome fats.
● There’s never a whiff of smoke in our kitchen. A smoking oil is a toxic oil, no matter how virtuous it was at room temperature.
We aren’t just rethinking food from a health perspective. We’re also optimizing each ingredient’s craveability. To do so, we carefully balance flavors, textures, and tastes, bringing you food that satisfies and satiates. At Mission: Heirloom, we do comfort food differently.
We privilege special diets when developing our menus, and we strive to be a trustworthy resource for people following specific dietary protocols. At the same time, we believe our food is approachable and enjoyable for everyone, no matter his or her health status. Our one-bowl meals feature innovative combinations of heirloom varieties of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. We find inspiration in comfort food all over the world, blending the best flavors we find with our high nutritional standards. Each meal is designed with flexibility in mind—customize at home and play to your heart’s content.
Unlike most food delivery companies, we never store our meals in plastic. Everything is kept in glass jars or takeout containers made from compostable sugarcane fiber. Simply put, plastic increases toxin exposure. It can leach all kinds of chemicals—not just BPA—into our food.
Like all food businesses, we meet the city and state health code regulations. Unlike everyone else, we are working around the clock find the least toxic solutions.
We use only natural, plant-based dish cleaners that don’t leave harsh chemical residues on pots and pans. Each glass jar is sanitized in the oven to keep them sparkling clean and free of sanitizer residue.
We go through many dish towels and aprons in a day. But commercial laundry companies simply didn’t meet our standards, flooding our linens with potentially harmful chemicals. Instead, we do our own laundry with natural, toxin-free detergent.
Like a well-tended garden, we are an ever-evolving work-in-progress. We are constantly studying, experimenting, learning, growing, tinkering, and improving. The Mission: Heirloom you see today may look completely different than it will a year from now. But our commitment to your health and joy will remain unwavering.
Want to learn more? Curious to try our food? Visit our website We welcome anyone and everyone to stop by the kitchen and take a tour. If you’re particularly interested in a tour, reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set a date.
Kate is the content and communications writer for Mission: Heirloom. She is also a freelance writer for several online food publications, including Serious Eats, KQED, SF Weekly, and Berkeleyside NOSH.