What’s Cooking in the New #CohereFoodLab

Written by Antoinette Marie Johnson on February 26, 2020

Not simply an office. Not simply a branding agency,” Antoinette Marie Johnson’s words have served as an anthem of sorts since Cohere moved into its now new headquarters. The space is dynamic, with the branding agency space, a floral studio and now we are thrilled to officially introduce what we have been cooking up in the Food Lab, and how it fits into our work.

Q: WHAT IS THE NEW #COHEREFOODLAB?

Erik Oberholtzer (EO): The #CohereFoodLab is where we are testing recipes, piloting products and growing our own food brands to help redesign the food system to be more sustainable and locally sourced. The rare combination of Cohere as a creative agency and my identity as Chef, makes for this fun experimental lab in Philadelphia that is focused on the intersection of design + food + impact. We are currently repositioning Consumer Product Goods (CPGs) such as specialty indegenious sugar cane Heirloma de Cana, a zero-waste concept Simply Good Jars, and receiving products to test such as Made In Stainless Steel Cookware.

Photos above by Alex Cahanap

As if we’re not busy enough, we are also testing recipes for a project we will launch in Spring Arts, featuring regenerative organic produce that is unique to Southeastern Pennsylvania. Our work with partners such as the Rodale Institute, the Crop Trust and Pocono Organics helps us go global with biodiverse ingredients and bring them back as hyper local to help experiment with how to do this elsewhere. We hope to open in the summer of 2020.

Q: COULD YOU SPEAK TO THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FOOD LAB DRIVING MORE SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES? 

EO: Many of the concepts that drive sustainable practices in the food and agriculture spaces – regenerative agriculture, biodiversity, food as medicine, and zero waste – are difficult to understand. The first step for us is to develop practices and language internally so that as we create content and action through Cohere’s channels, and do it truthfully. As a team, we are working on a list of ten commitments to help guide our sustainable practices. What I hope is that I can help influence what is already a really progressive, thoughtful, amazing culture to one that is world-class in a place of mindful leadership.

One way we’re moving the needle on this mission is Lunch & Learns, a practice every Wednesday where we discuss complicated topics around sustainability over family-style meals with the team, clients, and partners. We invite people to join virtually, so stay tuned for our late spring dates.

Photo by Alex Cahanap

Q: WHAT ARE SOME PARTNERS COHERE IS WORKING WITH THAT ARE OPENING UP THESE CONVERSATIONS THROUGH THEIR WORK?

EO: The Crop Trust and Food Forever2020 whose mission is preserving global crop diversity.

The Rodale Institute, the leading authority on organic agriculture in the country, located right in Berks County, Pennsylvania. 

Pocono Organics, the largest regenerative organic farm in the nation and a partner to The Rodale Institute. 

And, Arts & Crafts Holdings for supporting our transition to the Spring Arts neighborhood.


Q: LASTLY, WHAT IS A STAND OUT INGREDIENT THAT HAS MADE ITS WAY ONTO THE COHERE PLATES THIS WINTER? WHY? WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND IT? 

EO: The hero of the winter for me has been the scarlet turnip. It is not as earthy as other turnips or rutabagas. It has a subtle rosy flesh with a vibrant pink outside. It kind of looks like a Chioggia beet. It’s both delicious shaved raw in a salad as we had in our family meal this week but also great roasted with a little bit of caramelization on the outside. It could be added to any dish as an accessory but it’s also good enough to stand alone. It’s from Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op and I’ve seen it at Mom’s Market and some farmer’s markets but only a few people have been carrying it. It’s great.

 

Left, Scarlet Turnip Salad. Photos by Alex Cahanap

Photos by Alex Cahanap


YOU CAN FIND ERIK’S CREATIONS AT…

February 22nd – 26th: Chef Erik to attend the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a redundant inventory of the world’s crop diversity.

Erik at The Svalbard Seed Vault

February 28th: Chef Erik to cook with his mom Sherry a sold-out dinner at COOKPhiladelphia’s Premier Demonstration Kitchen  

Audrey Claire’s COOK class

March 4th: Cohere’s very own, Designer, Randi Bellamy to lead a Lunch & Learn with a DIY Skin Toner workshop 

March 18th: Heather McMonnies of Food Hedge to lead a Cohere Lunch & Learn focused on foraging