By: Molly Helfend
During one of our adventures to Portland, we had the delight to sit down and speak with co-owner and executive chef of Broth Bar, by Salt, Fire & Time, Tressa Yellig. Her calming presence instantly nourished our souls, just as her delicious broth and summer collagen coolers did as well! We spoke about Tressa’s creative and health insights, the healing benefits of bone broth, and how Salt, Fire & Time makes some of the highest quality bone broth in the world.
Please tell our readers what the Broth Bar is and where it began.
Broth bar is the retail leg of Salt, Fire & Time. It was Portland, Oregon’s first dedicated Bone Broth Café. My sister Katie joined the Company in April of 2015 and this was our first project together. Broth Bar opened its doors in August 2015. The intention behind Broth Bar was to take the momentum around bone broth and use it to create an accessible user-friendly social experience that would help folks turn drinking bone broth into a routine of everyday wellness.
What makes Broth Bar unique?
Salt, Fire & Time has existed as a maker of old world artisan healing foods since 2009. We had been selling out of the kitchen for years, as well as hosting dinners, teaching classes and catering. Broth Bar by Salt, Fire & Time was a way of making all of this more mainstream that matched the public’s expectation of what an artisan food experience should be, while bringing everything under one very public roof.
Why choose Portland as Broth Bar’s home?
Portland has been a leader in innovative restaurant culture for at least a decade, but people are just beginning to understand how much innovation in food manufacturing also happens here. As a chef, working in California, people talked about Portland as the promised land of food – year round grow season, no sales tax and very collaborative atmosphere of creators and entrepreneurs. I was sold. I moved here, sight unseen specifically to try to build a Community Supported Kitchen that I would name Salt, Fire & Time. The project evolved so many times that, at present, it is a full line of products with two retail outlets all focused around healing foods and education. The business atmosphere here in Portland is a great place to test new ideas.
What exactly is bone broth and why is it so good for us?
Bone Broth is a nutrient dense source of easy to absorb amino acids and minerals that normalizes stomach acid. The body doesn’t have to use any energy to digest it, so it can divert a lot of that energy to healing the intestinal lining and improving the way it breaks down and absorbs the nutrients in our food. I think of it as a thrifty food and healing decision, because it sets up the whole process beautifully for optimal efficiency. It is also deeply soothing for the nervous system, great for muscle recovery and replenishing electrolytes and helps to improve joint mobility. Basically, it guarantees that the body is actually able to turn the food your eat into the medicine that it needs to function and heal.
How can we consume bone broth sustainably?
The most important things to focus on when making it or eating it are to 1) make sure the bones are coming from a source where the animals were allowed to live an authentic experience, eating and living the way that nature intended and 2) allow the process to happen at a low temperature for at least 8 hours. Don’t rush and be careful not to expose it to too much heat so that you can protect those delicate amino acids. I think the most sustainable way to do that is to develop a routine around your sourcing and cooking process. Make it part of your plan to know the farms that you are getting bones from and only make as much as you are planning to consume in a week or two. The larger the supply of bones you buy, usually the better the pricing that you will be able to negotiate. Having a freezer to store your bones in helps a lot, as well as being a place to store your finished product. It will keep for about 6 months in the freezer and is great to keep on hand for any of your cooking or nutrition needs. It’s a good habit to get in to drinking about a 6-8oz cup per day first thing in the morning to maximize digestion . The effects will continue all day. Otherwise, a cup in the afternoon is great for that late afternoon brain fog or many people enjoy a cup before bedtime to help quiet the mind and soothe the spirit from a day in one’s life! It’s sort of like nutritional first aid.
What is the most common question you get about consuming bone broth?
The most common question I get about bone broth is “which is the best animal to get bones from?” and interestingly the answer is whichever sounds most delicious to you. Truth be told, the nutrition panels on the broths are almost identical with nearly negligible micro variants between them. They are nutritionally the same and will have the same effect in the body. The biggest differences between them are the fat content and flavor.
Is there a vegan option?
At present we don’t have a vegan option – I fantasize about trying to build out the nutrient equivalent of bone broth in a vegetable form but it would be very comprehensive, expensive and difficult to make. Nonetheless, it is certainly on my short list for product development. I would not trust a product on the market today that claimed to be the same as bone broth.
How do you meld creativity, flavor and business together?
The easiest way for me to meld business, product development and flavor is with our company standard of high integrity in every department, also this is a lifestyle for me too. We will only grow this company without compromise to our ethics in sourcing and process. Being able to work with good farmers and good ingredients is inherently inspiring. Being close to our food and our customers is also inspiring. I get to see the consequences of my efforts directly influencing the lives of the people that we are serving on both ends of the business equation from the places we source ingredients to the people who’s lives are changed daily by the simple virtue of having access to quality food. I honestly believe that this is the way that change is made, one delicious high integrity experience and decision at a time. I love this job and passion for it is easy to come by.
What are some of the other menu items and products you chose to sell?
We also sell products from other vendors that match our commitment to quality and an intention to empower people to change their lives with high quality ingredients. At the end of the day, everything we do is in defense of quality foods – it’s the best way to effect future change at a community level and we hope that translates to a larger economy scale as well.
Every item that we choose to represent is cleanly sourced in its ingredients and is further supporting our customers to create a well-rounded healthy food experience at home. Whether it is supplements, snacks, condiments, drinks, or raw materials, I know the faces of the makers and that means a lot to this company.
Where do you see the future of the Broth Bar headed?
I see the future of Broth Bar much the way that Sally Fallon, the woman who pioneered this return to traditional foods, does – a Broth Bar in every town. Creating broader access to something so foundational is contagious and infinitely relevant to every community. We are slowly perfecting a model that others can use to make use of these products and processes in their areas.
If there was one message you would like our readers to take home from this, what would it be?
I want people to know that quality foods cannot be taken for granted and our access to food is an endangered privilege. Consumers have the most power to demand and secure access to these products in the marketplace by voting with their dollars. This not only protects producers like us, but also the farmers…and it takes so so many of them to make this work. This is one high integrity passionate response to protect the future of our food culture and the health of future generations and we need consumers to help us help them too.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by beautiful ingredients and the intention to empower people to live better quality lives because of the food choices they make. Beauty is a basic need just as important as food itself. We seek it out to surround ourselves and create joy in our lives. Traditional Foods like Bone Broth are beautiful. Health is beautiful. Humans are beautiful manifestations of this relationship to our environments. Food has the greatest ability to influence our health in any direction. It is the simplest most effective way to take charge of one’s life. There is enough suffering in the world and this is delicious medicine.
Health and Wellness are….
Health and Wellness are our birthright. Take advantage of reclaiming that fact, it is available to all of us, or at least we are trying to make it accessible to everyone so that they can. It begins with rebuilding the foundation of our bodies’ mechanism for changing food from our environment into healing nutrients and it can be especially pleasurable. This is a sensory environment. It informs our place on the planet and in community with one another. Food is foundational and bone broth even more so. It’s the definition of digestion.
Photo Credit: Eden Baron
Please visit Salt, Fire & Time’s website to learn more about visiting their bars and ordering broth online, as well as, classes and events.
Molly Helfend is part of the HOC team and is an herbalist and environmental activist. She graduated from University of Vermont in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Holistic Health. She will be attending University of Kent in Canterbury, England to receive her Masters Degree in Ethnobotany in 2017. She has worked for Urban Moonshine, Greenpeace and received her training with Spoonful Herbals. Her goal is to receive her PHD and become a professor at University of California Santa Cruz. Molly resides in Monte Nido, California.