Prior to the pandemic, we had set out to report on just how wasteful restaurant disposables are—from items used in-house, to the various containers used for takeout orders.
After COVID set in and delivery became front-and-center, we let off the gas on that initiative, figuring restaurants had a lot of other stuff to deal with and would get back on their earth grind eventually.
In this case, we found a local company that has been working on planet-friendly food initiatives for years, including through the pandemic. Even better, their product is as unique as it’s delicious.
Maybe you have had one of their spoons passed to you at a cocktail party, as we did, and had more questions. Or perhaps you’ve never seen the bites that the Chelsea-based Edibles by Jack are putting out. Either way, you’re probably curious as well.
We needed to know more about these swallow-able spoons, and so we threw a bunch of questions at Co-owner Charlton J. Becker …
Are most people like, Holy shit! like we were when we first tried your spoon at a cocktail party? Or do some people just take it in stride like they eat all of their utensils?
Your reaction when first eating our edible spoon is the common response most people have. It’s why we coined the hashtag #haveyourspoonandeatittoo.
Some people may eat the composed Caprese salad out of the spoon first before biting into our Italian Herb Spoon. And we get it! It takes a minute to conceptualize the idea that they can actually eat the spoon. Maybe on the second try they eat the spoon with its components. That’s when the magic happens. The flavors of fresh Ciliegine mozzarella, sliced heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and balsamic glaze combine with the variety of Italian Herbs and fresh basil oil that make up our Italian Herb spoons. It’s at that moment you can witness someone thoroughly enjoying that perfect pairing they just experienced on their palate after the astonishment of being able to eat the spoon.
Give us the background. We all eat nachos and stuff and generally know that it’s a bonus to be able to consume the spoon, but what was the genesis of you taking it to another level?
In order to cover the background of this ingenious idea I need to talk about the creator. Edibles by Jack was conceptualized by my mentor, Jack Milan. He was a successful caterer who loved creating new things. His inventions might be to impress his clients with new and exciting flavors, come up with a dish that no one has ever seen, or make his life as a caterer a little easier.
The creation of the edible spoon entertained the latter. After many events had passed of serving hor d’oeuvres out of porcelain asian spoons Jack found a problem he really wanted to solve. The non-edible spoons were becoming a nuisance. Guests would enjoy their hor d’oeuvre and not know what to do with the spoon after they were finished. Servers would need to come around and collect the spoons. Many spoons were getting lost, broken, or simply thrown out. This would cause Jack frustration with the labor costs and lost product he would need to replace.
That’s when Jack understood the need to get innovative and create something. He came up with a cracker-based dough and added some poppyseeds for color, look, and flavor. Using a sheeter he created a thin line of dough. He placed a porcelain spoon underneath the sheet of dough and another one on top. Then an incision was made around the two spoons creating the exact shape of dough in between them. These were placed in the oven for a length of time giving the dough a chance to completely dry out leaving a crisp cracker that was the exact shope of the porcelain spoon. The end result was a sturdy cracker with enough flavor to combine well to what it was being served with without overpowering any flavors. The perfect marriage if you will.
What lessons did you learn with that? Particularly regarding spoilage and things going stale?
The learning experience created by these spoons was really that it created a solution to Jack’s problem with the porcelain spoon. The recipe Jack created remains today a product with a great shelf life. Our spoons last up to six months in a cool, dry area and can be frozen up to one year. Since the spoon is generally consumed by guests at events there is no need to collect anything besides maybe their cocktail napkin and an empty glass of wine. There is also nothing to throw away.
You are all about locally sourced ingredients. Tell us a little bit about where you get the stuff that goes into these?
Our butter comes from Cabot Creamery in Vermont. Egg whites from James Farm headquartered in New York. We use local wholesale restaurant flour. Our fresh herbs and spices come from an array of New England Farms. We use Boyajian located in Canton, Mass for our lime oil as they produce the best flavored oil with a great aroma of natural lime. Our lemon and basil oils come from Fam which is based in Italy. We have a local distributor that invited us to their manufacturing facility where we learned how sustainable their practices of making oil are using the freshest produce they can find. We appreciate the value of our relationship with this vendor and how wonderful the flavors of their oils that make up a variety of our spoons. Their products can be found at evoolove.com.
In your own experience in catering and in what you hear from chefs, what’s it like to factor in the flavor and texture of a utensil into a recipe? Is it just like an extra ingredient or is it something more because you’re taking into account the way someone is thinking about what is going into their mouth?
Whether using one of Jack’s original recipes or creating new ones we always stick with the same goal; create a flavor that is delicious but subtle. Whatever flavor is in the spoon is there to complement what is going into the spoon, never overpower it. Perfect example includes our Wasabi Sesame Spoon. When serving this with a tuna tartar you will first taste the tuna and whatever components highlight the tartar followed with hints of lemon oil and sesame seeds from the spoon. Following this delicious marriage of flavors you get the kick of wasabi and horseradish towards the back of your throat completing the umami experience.
What’s been the process of rolling out more than a dozen flavors and varieties? From deciding which to do to product testing?
When we took over Edibles by Jack there were 15 flavors in both standard and mini sizes. Being a chef I love to create new flavors and this business was the perfect opportunity to do just that. Our first addition was the Frutti de Mare, a squid ink spoon with just a touch of old bay seasoning. It’s not currently on our list of options but one we may bring back. Influences from our catering clients also derived new flavor opportunities like our pretzel spoons which go very well with your favorite local beer. When creating a Red White Chocolate spoon for Valentine’s Day one year we decided on a Green Mint Chocolate spoon to cover our basis for the holiday months.
At one point, we had up to 24 flavors for both sizes of our spoons. After getting a bit overwhelmed with our variety we decided to scale back to our top 18 flavors. We do also offer a gluten-free line available in our plain and chocolate standard sized spoons.
Are you just looking to build a local sustainable empire? Or are we going to see you on Shark Tank handing an edible knife to Mr. Wonderful so he can cut a big chunk out of your profit margin?
Our goal is to continue what Jack Milan started. He created a product to solve an issue for his guests. Not only was he successful in entertaining his goal, his product now fits in the growing need for sustainable products across the world. As owners, Kristen Fields and I know that our products taste good, are sustainable, and fulfill many needs in society. These needs are not limited to satisfying an inconvenience to our guests. They also save our catering clients a lot of time in preparation for their events. They fulfill a need in society to eliminate waste. As a chef I will always stand behind what I am serving or selling. I can stand behind our edible spoons because they taste delicious, are consistent, create a solution for many customers who utilize them, and carry on what my mentor had envisioned over 20 years ago.
And finally, where can people get their mouths on these?
Our website sells direct anywhere the United States Postal Service will venture. We can also be found on the catalogs of US Foods, Reinhart, and Gordon’s Food Service.