Meet the Team!

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Welcome to 2019!

Golden Roots Kitchen is sending you warm wishes for a year filled with health, happiness, abundance, and—of course—delicious food!

We are incredibly excited for the year ahead, as we have a number of projects underway that we are especially looking forward to sharing with you. We wanted to kick this new year into gear by sharing some fun information about the team here at Golden Roots. Our team has a uniquely collaborative spirit, and we feel privileged to work in such an encouraging and inspiring work environment. We also feel strongly about pouring that energy into the food we create for all of you—it’s the secret ingredient that sets GRK apart, and makes our service so special.


We hope you enjoy getting to know us a little better!




Melanie - Founder, Owner, and Executive Chef—a Libra from Alamo, California

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What is your favorite GRK dish?

I’m obsessed with the Caesar Salad, especially the dressing. The synergy of the ingredients in the salad—kale and pumpkin seeds along with a nutrient-dense dressing—make it a great alternative to a traditional Caesar.


What are you currently reading? Cookbooks you love?

“The Contrary Farmer” by Gene Logsdon, has been fulfilling my desire to start a GRK farm. Logsdon is all about letting nature do the work for you. He makes cottage farming seem manageable by using traditional permaculture techniques and thoughtful growth and management.


How do you like your eggs cooked?

Quickly fried in butter on a hot pan so the whites brown a bit and the yolk stays runny. I’m loving having fresh eggs from my chickens at home; you can really taste the difference.


What is the largest goal you hope to accomplish in 2019?

Starting the GRK farm!


Why is Golden Roots Kitchen unique to you, compared to other food services?

The quality of ingredients and process-oriented approach that doesn't compromise flavor. It’s thoughtful from the perspective of someone who wants to eat the food for their health, but it is also so flavor-oriented. Soaking and sprouting has made a huge difference in my digestion, and has shifted the way I prepare food. It is such a misunderstood part of cooking that has been lost in our culture. It feels really good to help people find their way to a plant based diet that is nourishing for their bodies and sustainable for the planet.

 

Brett - Kitchen Staff—a Libra from Charleston, West Virginia

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What is your favorite GRK dish?
Very tough question—but the Tom Kha Soup wins.


Why did you move to Santa Cruz?

I moved to Santa Cruz in August 2012, to attend UCSC, where I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Art History.


What are you currently reading? Cookbooks you love?
“Dining In” by Alison Roman is a very relatable cookbook, and has beautiful and modern photography. I’m also reading “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng.


What is your favorite tradition?
Going to the Barre Studio in Capitola every week after a big push in the kitchen.


Why is Golden Roots Kitchen unique to you, compared to other food services?
There is so much focus on quality of ingredients, and I feel that the food is very unique compared to many other food services. A lot of love and personal touch goes into everything.

 

Erin - Kitchen Staff—an Aquarius from San Diego, California

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What is your favorite GRK dish?

My number one favorite is the Sesame Pulled Chicken; my second favorite are the Turkey Meatballs.


What is the largest goal you hope to accomplish in 2019?

Working on improving my personal health and nutrition. I really want to get back into going to the gym. I’ll also be finishing my Culinary Degree!


Is there anywhere on your travel radar?

I would really like to visit Machu Picchu in Peru.


Do you collect anything?

I collect so many things! I have a love for thrift shopping and look for things like: turn of the century 60’s glassware, Candlewick Dishes from the 50’s, and cookbooks.


Why is Golden Roots Kitchen unique to you, compared to other food services?

The people. Every other place I’ve worked has tended to be tense and high stress, and here, everyone is so positive with one another in the kitchen. We have a very collaborative workflow—everyone tastes the food and gives constructive feedback. Also, the quality of the ingredients is so different than many other places I’ve worked.

 

Dena - Kitchen Staff—a Cancer from San Jose, California

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What is your favorite GRK dish?

I’m super partial to the Caesar Dressing—I love lathering it on our crispy potatoes. I’m a baked goods girl at heart, and I do a lot of the baking in the kitchen, but I also have to stay away from gluten and dairy—so I love that our baked goods accommodate many dietary restrictions. The Ginger Chai Molasses Cookies are one of my favorites!


How do you like your eggs cooked?

Softly scrambled, or soft-boiled—still runny in the center and soft on the outside.


What are you currently reading? Cookbooks you love?

“Now and Again” by Julia Turshen. She’s all about simple and comforting food—and her recipes are so easily adaptable to many dietary issues. I also have my eyes on the book “Dining In” by Alison Roman—it was a Brett recommendation!


Is there anywhere on your travel radar?

I’m really hoping to take a trip to Ireland this year. There is a famous cookery and sustainable farming school—Ballymaloe—in southern Ireland, where I’d love to take some courses.


Why is Golden Roots Kitchen unique to you, compared to other food services?

I was introduced to GRK because a friend brought me some of their food while I recovering from a car accident—it was a major treat to have such nourishing food at that time, especially food that met my dietary restrictions. I reached out to Mel months later and she gave me a chance to explore working in the kitchen as I was continuing to heal—something I was very grateful for. The whole team is filled with wonderful people whose enthusiasm and energy surrounds the food—and to me, that makes GRK incredibly special.

 

Dole - Kitchen Staff—a Libra from Woodbury, Connecticut

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What is your favorite GRK dish?

The Fresh Ginger Chai Molasses Cookies. I love that they are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. I recommend making an ice cream sandwich with them!


Why did you move to Santa Cruz?

I moved to Santa Cruz from Los Angeles in 2011, mostly to get more in touch with nature and find a change of pace. Santa Cruz reminds me of the small town I grew up in.


Do you collect anything?

One of my favorite hobbies is searching for abalone shells and sea glass—I recommend going to Pigeon Point Lighthouse.


What is your favorite tradition?

Going on snowboarding trips, or visiting other special places with my family during the holidays.


What is the largest goal you hope to accomplish in 2019?
I’m really excited to gain more kitchen experience through GRK.

 

Elaina - Kitchen Staff—an Aquarius from Menlo Park, California

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What is your favorite GRK dish?

It’s a tie between the Ragu Stuffed Acorn Squash and the Frittatas.


What is your favorite tradition?

My fiance and I always sit at the same table at Mobo Sushi—he proposed to me there.

How do you like your eggs cooked?

Scrambled, cheesy, and they have to have truffle oil!


Do you collect anything?

All things ladybug—ladybugs remind me of my mom. I’m also a world dance teacher and I love music, so I also love finding new music on Spotify.


What is the largest goal you hope to accomplish in 2019?

I’ll be getting my degree!

 

Sophie - Sustainable Packaging and Delivery Support—a Gemini from Scotts Valley, California

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What is your favorite GRK dish?

My favorite is the Fogline Farm Ragu with Zucchini Noodles. My second favorite is the Chia Pudding.


Do you collect anything?

I collect shells—Davenport Landing Beach is one of my favorite places to go searching for them.


Is there anywhere on your travel radar?

Spain, Amsterdam, Italy, and Ireland


Do you have any habits you are working on forming or breaking?

I’m working on breaking my cycles of procrastination on school assignments. I want to get in the habit of using my planner for better time management.


What is the largest goal you hope to accomplish in 2019?

Getting into the colleges I applied to. I really want to go to school in southern California—UCSB or UCSD.

 

Sierra - Community Outreach & Creative Projects Director—a Taurus from Santa Cruz, California

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What is your favorite GRK dish?

I have many delicious favorites, so I’ll put them in categories. My favorite treat is the Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin, my favorite salad is the Agrodolce Delicata, and my favorite dish is the Chickpea Curry with Spinach.


What are you currently reading? Cookbooks you love?

I tend to start multiple books and switch around. I’m currently reading “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk. One of my favorite cookbooks is “Decolonize Your Diet” by Luz and Catriona—a book with beautiful stories on traditional foods and ways of cooking.


How do you like your eggs cooked?

I like the GRK frittatas, or any variation of a fully cooked egg.


What is your favorite tradition?

I love traditions that involve ceremonial food. Especially from my own ancestry, which is Slovakian and Mexican. I also enjoy traditions that are formed within ourselves, like braiding my hair with oil every night before bed. I believe that traditions are a beautiful way to connect with yourself, the world, ancestors, and friends.


Why is Golden Roots Kitchen unique to you, compared to other food services?

GRK is unique for so many reasons. I believe that the environment in which things are created has a great impact on the presentation and feeling of the product. Melanie puts a lot of work into creating a respectful and caring workplace. The product is made with extreme care and intention and careful consideration of the nutrition and balance of flavor. We are constantly wanting to improve and grow with sustainable practices. Ultimately, it’s really delicious and joyous food—full of nutrition!

 

Mary - Nutritionist—an Aquarius from the Santa Cruz Mountains

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What is your favorite GRK dish?

Black beans and chocolate are two of my favorite things, so the Black Bean Brownies are always a winner.


What are you currently reading? Cookbooks that you love?

I’m currently reading “Sacred Powers” by Davidji; it is all about tapping in to the wisdom of the soul. I also love the cookbook “At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen” by Amy Chaplin.


What is your favorite tradition?

Every June I go to the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. It is a sacred place for diverse music, delicious food, and unique art. It is a celebration of the Summer Solstice, family, and love.


What is the largest goal you hope to accomplish in 2019?

Slowing down and finding balance in such a fast-paced world. I really want to find more time for myself and my creative flow. I also want to work on growing more into my nutrition practice.


Why is Golden Roots Kitchen unique to you, compared to other food services?

The quality and variety of ingredients that go into the food is huge for me. So much thought goes into the preparation of the food—from the technique, to the flavor, how the body will process it, and the final presentation. The food is made with great intention!

Melanie Geist