Jennifer and Serafina are some of the hippest chicks in the natural food business.
As you know, I attended the informative Sow Your Seed Funding program presented by Slow Money Northern California for Bay Area food entrepreneurs and their supporters. Slow Money’s goal is to connect small food producers with the community (investors and consumers) and create venues to share and learn about the value of a sustainable local food economy and how we can support these trailblazing entrepreneurs.
One of my favorites, the Bay Area remake of “Baby Boom” wonder women team: Jennifer Johnson and Serafina Palandech of Hip Chick Farms gave an overview of their home-grown family business and its brilliant success with their delectable free-range or all-natural chicken fingers, wings and meatballs. I was impressed by their delicious free-range and all-natural chicken treats, business ethics and core values. Hip Chick Farms is a small natural food producer based in Sebastopol in Sonoma County. Jennifer and Serafina are more than just business partners, they’re wives and mommies to the sweet Rubyrose, a three-year-old bunny’s ear.
I made the trip north across the Golden Gate through the bucolic Sonoma countryside past storybook family farms to sit down with Serafina at their beautiful four-acre homestead farm in Sebastopol. I received a warm welcome from three bounding canines (Winne, Sebastian and Carrie Dog). Serafina introduced me to their dearest Rubyrose and together they gave me the royal tour of their adorable family farm. First we visited the palais de poulet, (a flock of Guinea Hen chicks and assortment of laying hens) chickens always make me so happy, poules lend such a nurturing, laid back spirit to any farm. We then strolled through the pasture to see their adopted team of statuesque Percherons (Duke and Pepper), pre-retirement they ferried wagonloads of visitors around a sprawling chartreuse vineyard in wine country. Rubyrose is learning to ride two miniature horses (Prune and Quince). Two sage donkeys (Lola and Frannie) take this new family farm life all in stride. Serafina told me the story of she and Jen’s union and journey from a 900 square foot home in San Francisco’s Excelsior District to the purchase of their peaceful family farm in Sonoma County.
Serafina Palandech, a city-chick from Los Angeles and has a long steeped career in non-profit event planning and fundraising from the San Francisco AIDS Walk to many other private events in the Bay Area. Serafina met Jennifer in 2009 and soon afterwards they had Rubyrose. Serafina has been a stay at home working mom since. She and Jennifer began scheming their entrée in the food business in 2011.
Jennifer Johnson, a food chick hails from San Anselmo and is a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Jennifer graduated from the Culinary with honorable aspirations to work for one of the most storied restaurants in California. Jennifer approached the venerable Chez Panisse, founded by the organic goddess of California Cuisine Alice Waters. She eventually landed a coveted spot Chez’ kitchen and cooked for Alice for nine years. In 2011, Jennifer then responded to a request for a private chef and wound up cooking for the Getty Family and their in-home Montessori School for the past twelve years, not to mention having had the awesome pleasure of cooking for our president, Barack Obama on a few occasions.
In 2012, the pairing of Jennifer’s kid-tested, discriminating mom endorsed recipes, and Serafina’s business acumen combined and Hip Chick Farms was born. Serafina and Jennifer were on a quest to create their products with the best natural, locally sourced ingredients, which will satisfy the discerning palates of kids and health conscious parents alike. The Hip Chicks focused their attention on one of the finest free-range poultry producers in the region: Mary’s Free Range Chicken. Serafina, Jennifer, Rubyrose and Serafina’s mom made the trip to Sanger, CA to visit with David Pitman at Mary’s to “talk chicken”. They toured David’s cutting-edge farm and CAS (controlled atmosphere stunning) processing facility. The chicks were impressed with Pitman Farms stringent Step 5 animal welfare standards and knew right away that Mary’s Chicken would be the best foundation for their wholesome Chicken Fingers, Wings and Meatballs. The Hip Chicks are so proud of their relationship with Mary’s Chicken; every package includes Mary’s Logo. That’s a serious commitment to sustainability and quality.
The Hip Chicks next challenge was to find a processor who shared their high standards for creating the best quality product possible at a fair price. The duo found a processor in Fresno near Mary’s who would take that fresh organic chicken and convert Jennifer’s recipes into their dream product. Their remaining project was packaging and USDA approval. Serafina contacted her neighbors at Amy’s Kitchen in Petaluma for guidance on packaging. She was so thrilled to learn that the people at Amy’s were so helpful and readily referred them to resources for packaging. Serafina and a friend partnered to design the seventies inspired label, each package bears a photo of their family.
Within months, Hip Chick Farms had their product on the shelves of every Whole Foods store in Arizona, California, Nevada and Hawaii. They’re very proud of their relationship with Whole Foods and the independent grocers who carry their products.
Look for Hip Chick Farms products at these fine retailers.
Seraphina and Jennifer are dreaming of many new products: organic chicken stock, chicken pot-pies and fish sticks. Their goal is to make the best products on the market.