By Sharon Kurtz~
The term “artisan” has become the latest buzzword for anything craft-related, with little to distinguish a superficial label from the real deal.
Consumers tend to think of artisan foods as authentic, made by real people using specialized ingredients and produced locally in small batches using traditional, organic, and sustainable methods. Artisan processes typically reflect a personal passion, particular skill, or revered tradition.
Below, we highlight three real-deal, Dallas-based food artisans.
Jordan Jent, co-owner of Texas Fungus, began growing mushrooms in his garage in 2016.
Jordan had been a cook for 10 years but found the restaurant industry incompatible with family life. After two years working in corporate America, he searched for an experience more conducive to being a husband and father.
A series of late nights on YouTube eventually led Jordan to the world of mushroom farming.
“I just kind of went down the rabbit hole and found out there was a reason why fungi have their own kingdom,” Jordan said. “I was fascinated. I wanted to learn the microbiology behind it, so I spent three months reading and learning.”
Texas Fungus got its start in the summer of 2018, when Jordan met co-owner Adam Cohen in a
D/FW-based Facebook group for growing mushrooms. The pair quickly filled a niche for unique, regionally grown mushrooms in local restaurants.
Texas Fungus grows its gourmet mushrooms — oyster, Lion’s mane, and Shiitake, among many more — grow in a 2000-square foot facility in Arlington, TX.
After a successful start, Adam and Jordan were nearly blindsided by the effects of COVID-19. Texas Fungus was selling primarily wholesale to restaurants. But Jordan and Adam learned to pivot.
Texas Fungus now sells its mushrooms eight farmers’ markets in the D/FW area. Local support — and curious new customers — has kept up the momentum. Restaurant orders are still minimal, but direct consumer interaction, word-of-mouth, and social media has helped Adam and Jordan introduce more people to their beautiful, delicious mushrooms.
Head “bean counter” Marta, and husband/business partner, Kevin, have always loved coffee.
In 2010, they left the corporate world behind. In 2011, they founded Noble Coyote Coffee turned their passion into a business.
Marta and Kevin began selling their coffee at the Good Local Market (then called White Rock Local Market) in East Dallas in 2012. They now have a roastery and cafe located in Exposition Park.
Noble Coyote’s goal is to provide space for consumers to explore and enjoy coffee. Now, its coffee is available in many local grocery and specialty food stores, as well as in cafes and restaurants around the metroplex.
Always searching to add new offerings for their customers, the couple sources beans from a wide range of coffee-producing countries, including Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Peru. Ethical trade and sustainability issues are important to Marta and Kevin, so Noble Coyote only purchases beans from importers that compensate farmers fairly.
Before COVID, Noble Coyote was open five days a week and held public cuppings and brew classes twice a month. Once COVID hit, it shifted into a curbside cafe, where folks can order bags of freshly roasted beans as well as bottles and growlers of cold brew coffee, coffee drinks, and brewing equipment.
Marta and Kevin are prepared to continue this model for as long as they need. The two have moved Noble Coyote’s popular classes and cuppings online, held live on Facebook and IG Live.
Yelibelly Chocolate’s motto is “Let’s get chocolate wasted!” — so you know it’s going to be fun.
Yelibelly’s chocolates are award-winning, beautiful, and especially pleasing to the palette.
Yeli discovered flavor-infused chocolates she had never seen before when she traveled overseas to Italy. In 2007, she brought that inspiration back to Texas and started making her own chocolates.
“The first boutique to carry my chocolates was a dance studio where I taught belly dancing,” she said.
After searching for a name that truly portrayed the journey of her chocolates, a friend suggested melding her name and her passion: dance! Thus came the name Yelibelly Chocolates.
Yeli now has a production facility in Addison, which has been making amazing truffles since 2009.
Each of Yeli’s chocolates and flavor-infused ganaches are ethically sourced and hand-crafted in small batches using natural ingredients. They use real cream and butter in each batch of ganache, steering clear of preservatives. You will be able to taste the difference!
“I want people to take a bite of my chocolates and have that ‘wow’ factor with pronounced flavors that come out and hug you,” she said. “I want people to be satiated by one chocolate.”
Yeli has developed a robust corporate gift business with custom wedding flavors (which COVID has currently halted).
In the wake of COVID, she and her team have developed virtual chocolate experiences, expanded the wholesale business, and created chocolate mail-order kits. But one thing hasn’t changed: Talking and teaching about chocolate is still Yeli’s passion and delight.