Most of us suffer through college cafeteria food. For Max Block and Jake Ahles, founders of The FareTrade, it provided an impetus to get off campus and start cooking in their own kitchen.
“We moved off campus sophomore year and immersed ourselves in the food community. We went to farmers’ markets, family-owned grocers, and hosted dinner parties,” says Max.
After graduation, Max worked for a PR firm and Jake worked for a restaurant, until they had the idea to start their own food subscription service.
“Max and I were traveling around the country, and were able to discover awesome products. We originally just wanted to create a way to get those products to people around the country who wouldn’t hear about them otherwise,” says Jake.
They realized that partnering with local chefs would add a distinctive dimension to their service, and began The FareTrade. Each month they work with a different chef, who chooses unique artisan foods and creates recipes. Baskets contain about five products, and members receive access to step-by-step tutorial videos from the chef.
“Both of us grew up in families that sat around a table to eat, and grew up understanding the importance of what people need from food,” says Max. “With The FareTrade, we have the ability to bring chefs into our members’ homes and showcase amazing culinary products so people can get around the table, make that connection, and share an amazing meal with friends and loved ones.”
The founders believe that today’s generation and culture places a unique value on artisan products.
“After World War II, there was more canned food and mass production,” says Jake. “Today, there’s a movement back to hand grown, locally produced, quality ingredients.”
“There has never been a generation that wants to understand where their food comes from so much,” says Max. “It’s a beautiful opportunity to be part of that community and conversation.”
Along with their members, Jake and Max have learned from the chefs and local producers.
“Each of these artisans have taken it upon themselves to further the food conversation in America,” says Max. “It’s enlightening and so inspiring for us to work with them and showcase what they do.”
Through the journey, they have discovered many favorite products that have earned a spot in their kitchen.
“There’s a place in Brooklyn called Sfoglini that makes cuttlefish pasta,” says Max. “They have an amazing eye for what artisanal products can be and push the boundaries of what people expect.”
“A company called Grist & Toll hand mills grain from local farmers using specific grains you can’t find anywhere else,” says Jake.
June’s basket is curated by Bruce Kalman, head chef of Union Restaurant in Pasadena, CA and winner of the Food Network’s TV show Chopped.
“He’s someone who really wants to focus on producers in his backyard,” says Max. “We’re featuring a product of his own (BK Spice Porcetta Rub) and are excited to bring his elevated comfort fare to our members.”
The basket also includes Grist & Toll Polenta, Seascape Strawberry + Rose Geranium Jam from Sqirl, Sam Marzano Tomatoes from Bianco DiNapoli, and Curried Pig Popcorn from Dakota’s Pop Parlor. The FareTrade is also currently offering a deal for Father’s Day: $10 off the monthly price.