Who: Cassandra Gates, owner of bone-broth company Broth Baby
Where: Oakland, California
Cassandra Gates is the owner of Broth Baby, an Oakland-based bone broth company that serves the greater Bay Area. Inspired by her studies in holistic nutrition at Bauman College, she decided to create a bone broth that is full of good-for-you ingredients, but also really tasty.
To her organic chicken bone-based stock, she adds vegetables, shallots, garlic, and bay leaves, plus kombu and sea salt for a nice dose of umami. The result is a super-flavorful broth that's great for sipping or cooking with.
Cassandra started Broth Baby two years ago in her kitchen, but she moved to a commercial space when the company took off. "I had melted the knob on my oven," she laughs.
Even so, she was only recently able to quit her job and devote herself full-time to the business. "It was a risk, but it was immediately obvious that it was the right move."
Broth Baby does half of its business through subscription, which delivers the broth directly to Bay Area people's homes every Monday. The other half is through retail at Preserved (a stop on our Neighborhood Walk!) Her time working at local restaurants such as Bar Tartine and Ramen Shop also influenced her product. The natural sea salt and kombu add a nice dose of umami and Good Eggs, a local food delivery service, said Cassandra.
Running her business out of a commercial space means she has more time to spend using her home kitchen for cooking (often with her slow cooker, which she loves). When she first moved in four years ago, the kitchen needed some help. Now, thanks to smart home improvements, it's functional and homey.
When walking in, for example, the first thing you see is the dining area, which contains a large table and a built-in bench that Cassandra and her boyfriend installed. "We can easily fit 10 people around that table," says Cassandra. They added beautiful pillows and sheep's skin throws to cozy up the benches, and a long mirror along one wall to bounce more light into the room.
A Visit with Cassandra Gates & Her Kitchen
Who cooks and eats here?
Mostly it's me and my boyfriend, with two traveling roommates who split their time between Oakland, Hawaii, and Sonoma.
Tell us about any renovations or kitchen improvements you've made.
The kitchen needed a lot of love when we moved in. We built two rows of shelving in the back corner to accommodate medium-sized kitchen appliances, hung a pan rack, and installed tiny shelving to create a spice rack in a little nook that wasn't being used. We also added a small clothesline for drying herbs and a knife magnet and suddenly things were looking up!
What's your favorite thing about your kitchen?
The built-in cabinets that are original from the 1930s when the building was built. They were a brilliant white when we viewed the apartment, but the landlord painted them a horrid brown color after we signed the lease (so they would match the newly added wooden cabinets next to it — so silly!).
It was such a sad moment when we saw the newly painted cabinets, but I have moved on and still enjoy them for their unique latch features and abundant storage space.
Also, I just recently learned that the white ceramic countertop built into the cabinets was a popular tabletop feature in many households for its ability to cool evenly. My grandmother uses this type of tabletop to make her delicious caramels and peanut brittle — now I know why!
What are you most proud of in your kitchen?
I'm most proud of our use of the negative space next to the built-in countertop as a spice rack. It has just the perfect depth to fit all of our Oaktown Spice Shop spice bottles. It's always nice to be able to see all of my spices without digging through a drawer or deep cabinet.
What do you like to cook the most (besides bone broth)?
I love to use my slow cooker to make all sorts of pulled meat. I recently made a delicious Italian pork sugo with red wine, bone broth, canned tomatoes, and a four-pound pork shoulder — so heavenly and delicious, and so easy to make. Served over rigatoni, it makes me think of home.
Cassandra's 5 Best Bites
- The meat quiche from the Starter Bakery stand at the Saturday Grand Lake Farmers Market is to die for!
- Another pick from the Grand Lake Farmers Market: The plate of chicken curry with yellow rice at Andy and Cindy's Thai tent.
- Margherita pizza from Boot and Shoe Service with glass of red when I want to treat myself.
- Sourdough english muffin from Arizmendi Bakery on Lakeshore. Pro tip: Ask them to heat it for you and eat it there with plenty of butter and a drizzle of honey (both available at the condiment counter).
- Happy meal burger and fries with beer and shot for $25 at Plum Bar — after a long shift at the kitchen, this is just what I need!
Thank you for the visit, Cassandra! Find out more about Broth Baby, a pasture-raised bone broth that's perfect for sipping and cooking with.
This kitchen visit is part of this month's Bite-Sized Guide, our travel guides to destinations near and far. This month we're getting to know Oakland through a walking tour, recipes, and visits with local cooks. See the full Guide here.