Farm to Table to Soil is the best way to describe Jammin’ Crepes, a Princeton, NJ eatery that sources produce locally, preserves the harvest and composts 100 percent of its food scraps.
In an era when farm to fork restaurants and artisanal food trucks are the norm, Jammin’ Crepes continues to redefine what it means to be local and earth-friendly. From the jam that fills their crepes to the table displays urging people to say “no” to plastic straws, the three owners, Kim and Amin Rizk and their good friend Kathy Klockenbrink, seem to be constantly improving upon their customer service pledge that vows:
• that every crepe is made fresh to order and that our batters are made lovingly in-house from scratch every day;
• to use ingredients from regional farms and food artisans, supplemented by fair trade and organic ingredients whenever possible;
• to compost all our organic waste and recycle all that we can, as a means to minimize our impact on our landfills.
Farmer’s Market to Bricks and Mortar
It was 2011 when Jammin’ Crepes introduced their Crepe concept at the West Windsor Farmer’s Markets. From there, they quickly grew a following and expanded into the Princeton Farmer’s Market. “We experienced how Princeton as a community really rallies around local grassroots businesses,” says Ms. Rizk. Four years later, the trio opened their first restaurant in downtown Princeton.
While the move from open air market to a bricks and mortar building seemed fast, the expansion was well planned. “I’d like to think we went about the growth thoughtfully. We didn’t just dive in. We had an idea and a concept and a business plan. Our thought process was — before we invest heavily into a brick and mortar operation, let’s see how well it goes at local farmers markets,” says Mr. Rizk, the business, finance and marketing manager who is also the self ascribed ‘music guru’ who chooses the music selections for the restaurant.
Restaurant Supported Agriculture (RSA)
“Sourcing local is our DNA,” says Mr. Rizk. Which means, they go beyond purchasing local produce every week. This year, they invested in a Restaurant Supported Agriculture Share (RSA) from Cherry Valley Cooperative Farm (CVC) before the farm season began.
RSA’s are based on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model where members pre-pay for their seasonal subscription. Cherry Valley provides Jammin’ Crepes a box of seasonal produce twice a week and they also grow a few crops specifically for the restaurant including hot peppers for their Jersey Heat Hot Sauce, and string beans and dill flowers for their ferments and pickles.
“We really appreciate that Jammin’ Crepes was willing to invest in an RSA with us. It helps with our upfront cash flow and they don’t have to search each week for fresh produce. Instead, we deliver what’s in season to their door twice a week,” says Alec Gioseffi, CVC Farm Manager.
Jammin’ Crepes also regularly purchases produce from 12 local farms and a dozen regional vendors including Green Paper Cup, a locally-owned compostables paper company that distributes a wide range of compostable dining products.
Jammin’ Crepes supports local organic farms in more ways than just by purchasing produce. On August 28th, they will be sponsoring a fundraising dinner for NOFA-NJ. Tickets can be purchased online at $40 each.
Sorry No Strawberries In December But We DO Have Jam
“When we first came up with the concept of sourcing as much food as possible from local farms, I wondered how we were going to offer strawberries year round when they are only available in May and June,” says Kim Rizk.
The solution? They preserve strawberries by making jam which also educates customers about seasonal eating. “So when customers ask for fresh strawberries in December, the staff says, ‘Well, strawberries are not in season, but we do have delicious strawberry jam that we preserve and serve year round,” says Ms Rizk. Thus the name – Jam in Crepes.
So Much to Compost
While the crepes are the shining star, the team’s earth-friendly efforts are what makes the restaurant truly outstanding. “When I saw the amount of waste we produce, I realized I couldn’t be in this business unless we composted,” says Ms. Klockenbrink, a passionate environmentalist who is constantly looking to find ways to lessen the restaurant’s environmental footprint.
In 2017, Jammin’ Crepes estimates they saved more than 186,000 pounds of food and paper waste from the landfill through their composting program. Currently, they send close to 65 gallons each of compostables, recyclables and landfill waste to their respective outlets daily. Their goal is to continue to search out ways to reduce their environmental footprint in the future.
From a Cookbook to Blackberry Ketchup
While Ms. Klockenbrink is the environmental conscience of the business, Ms. Rizk is the creative inspiration. Directly after college, she worked at the Hay Day Country Market, a well-known farm stand located in Westport, CT. Her job testing recipes led to the Hay Day Country Market Cookbook, which was published in 1998. The cookbook is still available for purchase and is filled with seasonal recipes such as New Potatoes and Fiddle Head Ferns for spring and Cider Glazed Autumn Medley Brussels Sprouts for fall all of which would fit perfectly on any farm to table menu today.
Ms. Rizk continues to create in the kitchen and is currently perfecting blackberry ketchup. As she says, “Who says ketchup has to be made from tomatoes?”
It is not surprising that Alice Waters was one of Ms. Rizk’s inspirations, but her love of cooking began much earlier growing up on a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Her parents added a Bed and Breakfast to their farm, and while she admits she wasn’t a natural in the garden, Ms. Rizk loved to be in the kitchen making preserves.
“I learned early on I didn’t have a talent in the garden. I leave the growing to the farmers and am very happy to buy all my produce from them,” she says.