This post is one of a series of profiles of the AllSpice staff. We’re so proud of our talented and eclectic crew!
Name: Ben Jacobi
When did you start working at AllSpice? I started working at AllSpice just recently compared to the veterans here; I started in Mid-January.
How did you come to be at AllSpice? I had just spent six months traveling the US, hiking and camping and carrying bear spray, and it occurred to me that I should probably find a job. I didn’t want to work at a large company again, instead I wanted to find a locally owned spot with an atmosphere that I felt I could work in. Luckily, I like to cook, AllSpice is local, and after sending my resumé to Rory, I got a job!
What do you do at AllSpice? In addition to the general duties of the store, I spend a lot of my time learning from the other staff members, who have an incredible amount of knowledge. It’s great to learn something new every day, and to try out different spices with my cooking.
What is your favorite ingredient at the store? I really like to chug the Pinot Noir [Red Wine] vinegar when nobody is looking. Ha – I kid. Seriously, my personal cooking tends to lean towards the meat and fire method, so I really like several of the blends we have: Bourbon Pepper, the Quebec Steak Seasoning, and our Sonoma Seasoning Blend. They’re all pretty basic spice blends, but each has a *lot* of flavor, and when you season with one of these, you don’t need to do much else with your food. Of course, if you’re getting down to the very basics, using just salt, pepper, garlic, and a good oil, it will never lead you astray.
What is your favorite thing to cook or what is your specialty? Is there a grill? What about a camp fire? If the answer is yes to either one, then I’m ready to cook. Campfire cooking is interesting because you have to really focus on temperature control and the environment around you, but, again, having a good mix of spices will let you vary your food while you’re out in the wilderness.
What is the most difficult dish you have ever prepared? Would you make it again? I made an irish stew aspic (pictured), which wasn’t difficult, but it was time consuming and I didn’t know if it was going to work until right before serving it. That was nerve-wracking. I will not be making it again.
When someone else is doing the cooking, what is your favorite dish? I really enjoy other people’s take on stir fry, as well as those all-day soups that are old family recipes.
Do you have a food that is your guilty pleasure, and if so, what is it? Beef Jerky. But do I feel guilty about it? Not terribly. But I have also been known to eat a block of Parmesan without anything else though…
What is your favorite thing to do at the store? I really enjoy helping people find things, so this place is a good fit for me. Talking about what I’ve cooked, or am planning on cooking with peers and customers is a lot of fun too.
Everyone has their own little niche that they bring with them to the store, what thing would you say is the most beneficial to our customers? I earnestly want to help them enjoy their food even more. Oh, and I’ll carry people’s stuff for them too. I was an English major, so I love to read and write, and I’ve got an honest curiosity to learn as much as I can about spices and their uses. I am also a very curious cook, so I am always interested in hearing about what others are cooking as well.
What is your favorite thing or things to do when you are not at AllSpice? Being outside is important to me, so anything that can get me out into the woods is wonderful, Frisbee golf, reading dense history books about the Portuguese merchant diaspora… (ok that’s a really specific example, but you get the idea). My friends and I try and cook for each other once a week at least, and cooking for a group is a lot of fun, and makes a great exercise for your timing / time-management skills.
Do you have another job or do you go to school? I do not. I love my time here so much that even just thinking about another job puts me into a week-long malaise that is only mitigated when I come into work. Actually, I really just like it here and haven’t thought about doing anything else.
Photos: Eva Lewin Photography