Interview with Chris Rayman, Founder of Sproutcraft
Photos by: Emily J. Hara / @grassmaven
How did Sprout Craft Creamery get inspired?
Sproutcraft was inspired mostly by my dedication in striving for using the highest quality products that one can get and in this case - not get. Most vegan cheese you can buy in a store are generally made with low quality ingredients and cheap fillers. Also, they tend to lack true aged flavor that you automatically associate with good quality cheese, vegan or not. Naturally working in plant-based kitchens for a number of years as a chef, I experimented and eventually found methods that worked well. This enabled me to use the cheeses I make on menus I develop, or for private events I'm hired to do not having to rely on unsatisfactory or inferior cheese product.
What makes your plant-based cheese different than other vegan cheese on the market?
The cheeses I make differ in regards to the specific type or style of cheese. For instance, the hard aged wheels are aged a minimum of 10-12 weeks for flavor and texture and are firm enough to be grated over foods. Vegan cheeses sold in stores are usually aged a maximum of 4-6 weeks to move product quickly and keep sales higher. The brie and blue bloomy rind wheels I produce are a speciality on their own because this style is not something even available in stores currently except in Europe. The same with the ashed "chèvre" style I make as well, it's not a style you can find in stores currently. Also, I process and dehydrate my own things like tomato powder, turmeric powder, nettles, as flavoring and or coloring in the cheeses. Organic and local ingredients are used exclusively or whenever possible. Also, the packaging or cheese paper is biodegradable made from cellophane and no plastics are used in selling of the product.
How does the fermenting process work? How does the bacteria from your cheese benefit our gut?
The fermentation process works by soaking cashews 6-8 hours then blending into raw cream and adding bacterial cultures and incubating for a period of time to change or lower the ph to be slightly more acidic. This provides an ideal environment for the cultures to produce lactic acid. This lactic acidification makes nut milk a safer food by affecting the flavor and texture as pathogenic and contamination bacteria do not grow in a ph of 4.6 or lower. The bacteria present in the cheeses therefore have a dual purpose: first to protect from unwanted bacteria from growing and as a natural gut aid in consuming them. They help feed our microbiome bringing us to better gastrointestinal health.
What is your self-care ritual before you create your recipes?
I don't really have a self care ritual before I make recipes but in general I like to surf, play guitar, hike, bike, daily meditation and a somewhat consistent yoga practice.
What is your favorite quote?
A favorite quote by Friedrich Nietzsche from Thus Spoke Zarathustra, "God is Dead"
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from listening and playing music; living in beautiful Santa Barbara with the ocean and the mountains; and having the opportunity daily to help people transition form the standard American diets to more plant-based, cleaner eating.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am working on getting Sproutcraft to market and scaling to do commercial production. I am looking to partner with Y’Not Organic juice bar in Pismo beach, which I consulted to open in fall 2017, to launch Sproutcraft commercially. Also, I organize and run pop up dinners with @terraadcaelum locally in Santa Barbara and I have a class coming up on nut-based cheese making @Samasamakitchen on 3/25.
What are 3 things in your holistic medicine cabinet that you cant live without?
1. cannabis oil balm
2. palo santo essential oil
3. sun potion pine pollen.
Where can we buy your cheese?
Currently the only way to buy Sproutcraft cheeses is directly through me personally as I do not yet sell it in stores or online. I do frequent the Santa Barbara farmers market and sell cheeses during.
Chef Christopher Rayman began his career learning classic french culinary in upscale gourmet kitchens. Deciding not to attend culinary school, he was primarily self-taught and gained invaluable experience in the restaurants that began his career. It was his time working alongside other highly-skilled chefs that shaped his experience learning their techniques and methods to develop his foundation of cooking. After years of working in the industry, Rayman made the decision to invest in his own health by introducing an all plant-based diet.
His classic culinary training juxtaposed with the adoption of the avant-garde, modern food movement, forged his own style and philosophy toward food. With the personal change to a plant-based diet, his progression and love of artisanal cheesemaking led him to experiment with non-dairy options. Using nuts as his base, his favorites being cashew and macadamia, Rayman borrows from traditional methods of cheesemaking to create authentic dairy-style cheeses.
Years of testing countless recipes and preparations led Rayman to become a leader in the process of fermentation and non-dairy cheesemaking in the Santa Barbara area. His presentations, along with his remarkable cheeses, have led to the beginning of Sproutcraft; a highly sought after delicacy in Southern California. What began as a personal interest in 2010 has developed into a highly anticipated small scale operation. Small batch, organic, and handcrafted, the cheeses are a stand alone in a market of alternative-dairy options.
Visit Sproutcraft to learn more.