Baked in the oven | Food and Drinks | Weekly Style
Vegetarian vegan focaccia from the garden. Focaccia stuffed with potato, Hatch chili and goat cheese. Scenes engraved on focaccia representing a green flower gardens and Bob Ross musings and even a dough interpretation from “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.
Wildcraft Focaccia Co. Owner Thomas Parfitt has a background in food and gardening, as evidenced by his Wildcraft Instagram account which until recently focused on the research and development photos of the baked goods listed above.
Over the past couple of weeks however, we’ve gotten a glimpse of Parfitt’s Manchester tribute to Mother Earth, which will be opening soon. At 1303 Hull S., Wildcraft Focaccia Co. will be operational for lunch and dinner service in July.
Parfitt and his business partner and Wildcraft co-owner Kevin Murphy have been working on the building since the fall, dealing with the standard rigmarole of permits, contracts and invoicing. But they’re almost there, hiring should start in a few days.
The two have been friends since Murphy moved to Richmond from his native New York City in 2006. “I knew Tom was setting up this project two, maybe two and a half years ago,” he says. Murphy has had a career in healthcare financial management and financial information systems management, but in his spare time he is an avid baker.
“We used to talk about ‘What did you put in this bread?’ and “How much hydration did you use?” “, Explains Murphy. “One day we just started talking and Tom said, ‘You should quit your job and be my business partner.’ And I said, ‘Okay!’ “
A numbers and spreadsheet guy, Murphy is busy on QuickBooks the morning we chat. “He thrives on that,” Parfitt laughs.
Parfitt, meanwhile, is enjoying the nature around him – the restaurant is already filled to the brim with a variety of potted plants. “I wanted to cross my two passions, he confides. “One being the world of food and the other the wild making and cultivation of food and the use of what surrounds us.”
Before trying to open his own restaurant, Parfitt rose through the ranks of the food and beverage industry, washing dishes in college and cheffing at places around town such as Zeus Gallery Café and Ipanema. Café, as well as a now closed Washington gourmet restaurant. establishment, CityZen.
Most recently, Parfitt worked at the University of Richmond where he developed and taught various programs for its Center for the Culinary Arts, including the Bakery and Pastry Program, the Nutrition and Food Science Program, and the Food Management Program. food services. He holds a master’s degree in permaculture, the sustainable and self-sufficient approach to land management and the development of agricultural ecosystems.
This means Parfitt isn’t spraying his garden with Roundup or using chemical fertilizers while tending to the asparagus, zucchini and tomato plants in his garden. A Parfitt family salad can consist of dandelions, herbal remedies, violets and clovers, all picked from the backyard.
“Wild craftsmanship is just the art of finding things in nature and using them,” says Parfitt. “So you can do wild crafts by looking for mushrooms or wild crafts by looking for natural yeast in the air, which is our leaven. ”
The accidental beauty that Parfitt has stumbled upon and woven into in his homemade baking experiences will evolve, slightly, into an appropriate brick and mortar format. But it remains, even with counter service and QR codes, the ingrained philosophy that food should be good, simple, well made, and with as little waste as possible.
“We really don’t do landfill,” says Parfitt, who notes that Wildcraft will be working closely with Compost RVA. Everything in the restaurant – from dishes to leftover food – will be reusable, recyclable or compostable.
While Murphy and Parfitt cook things other than focaccia, as the name suggests, the Wildcraft menu is all about this baked flatbread.
“People think macaroni and cheese or meatloaf are comfort foods, to me it’s focaccia and Italian salami,” says Parfitt. “I grew up in central Jersey and every once in a while I would slip 90 cents on my dad’s dresser and go buy a slice of Sicilian pizza, or buy a loaf of bread or a Danish from the bakery. … I have a very personal connection with this food.
“There is also an element of texture,” Murphy thinks of focaccia. “The crusty crust at the bottom, the crumb soft and open, and it’s not very technical in terms of making.”
Parfitt nods: “It’s simple. Everything should be simple here. Everything has its place.
Another simple fact the men immediately discussed – and fully agreed upon – was that Wildcraft employees would be treated with respect.
And respect looks like a living wage.
“We want people to come here and work regularly and be able to afford their apartment,” says Parfitt, who understands all too well the atmosphere that a poorly run establishment can create when it is normal to work “over 70’s. hours per week for $ 30,000.
“If the only way to make the equation work is to exploit people, then the equation doesn’t work,” Murphy notes. “This is something that we have decided in advance.”
Wildcraft will be open for lunch and dinner, “we’re looking at 11 am to 9 pm,” Murphy says. They plan to have a small but powerful menu of microbreweries and fresh and selected wines by the glass and by the bottle. Wildcraft menu items will include toasted flatbreads (light on the toppings), filled flatbreads (more balanced topping-to-bread ratio) and stuffed flatbreads (think loaded mojo pork iterations) as well as sandwiches, soups , salads and homemade pies and pies.
There will also be make-your-own flatbreads, starting at $ 14 for a half-pan and $ 21 for a full pan. Parfitt notes that they will be growing the vegetables on the menu, like capers, onions, mushrooms and roasted eggplants in their own gardens. They will get other toppings, such as local seasonal produce and chicken, from the Palmyre permaculture farm, CountyFolk.
They will also have a deli case ahead of time with take out meats, cheese and olives for locals who want to pass for groceries.
“It was great meeting everyone,” Murphy says of moving to this Hull Street next to places like Pig and Brew and A&F Seafood Deli.
“I keep telling our neighbors, when you start to smell the food, come in. ”