The social network for East Coast lesbians & our LGBTQ pals.
THE BEST LESBIAN THING OF THE WEEK
Name: Sara Fatell
Current Location: Bloomingdale, DC
Business and Position: Owner/Baker, Grassroots Gourmet
Grassroots Gourmet. Tell us about it.
Grassroots Gourmet is a made-to-order, family-run baking company. Hailing from the non-profit world, it was clear that progressive folks are conscious of how they spend their money, both as organizations and individuals. Sweatshop-free labor, union-printed materials, recycled paper, soy ink, women- and minority-owned business owners, etc. We care about more than the product. But, in terms of local bakeries, where the sweets are made fresh and delivered, there wasn’t much to find. So, here we are, baking for change, because we care, too.
Our recipes were learned in the kitchens of our grandmothers, our techniques fine tuned under the watchful eye of our mothers. From the combination of our passion, organizing skills and life experience, Grassroots Gourmet was born.
We weren’t always in the kitchen. We’ve done our fair share of political work, non-profit work, and invested time, energy and love in various passion projects. We’ve found that we are happiest when we can continue our passion for politics and change, and still be a part of something great, from our kitchen. Grassroots Gourmet is where passion meets progress with a purpose; it’s our common ground. We’re young progressives who want to feed the revolution… literally, by baking for change.
What’s the food like?
Our made-to-order menu features all kinds of treats including cakes, cupcakes, cookies and pies. We’ve also got sweets for everyone from scones and muffins to rugelach, whoopie pies, and more.
So, give us the skinny. What’s the very best item on your menu?
The John Hancock Triple chocolate chip cookie is the best! Our signature cookie (get it, signature? Hancock?) packs 3 kinds of chocolate- semi-sweet, milk, and white- with an almost even ratio of chocolate to cookie. You can’t have just one!
What did you do before this grand adventure?
Before starting my own baking company in the fall of 2009, you could find me blazing the campaign trail, training and developing our youth leaders and supporting progressive politics by working with organizations like Planned Parenthood, ChoiceUSA, the United States Student Association and more.
During these wild adventures I baked as a stress reliever. In the chaotic world of organizing and politics, where so many things are out of your control, victories are in tangible and days are long, there is something sweet about sharing food. Getting lost in a recipe, tunes blaring, was a great place to be. And in the end, I’d have something yummy to share with the folks with me in the trenches. They all had to stop, take a minute, and eat something that made them smile.
You say that Grassroots Gourmet was born from your passion, organizing skills, and life experience. Do you feel that the East Coast’s LGBTQ-activist community is a good home for these goals to thrive?
Yes. I feel pretty good about the intersectionality of DC progressive politics. You’ll find that so many activists here are able to weave their jobs and passion projects together to support a multitude of causes.
Did you ever own an Easy-Bake Oven or were you well-versed on skillets and the anatomy of a Chef’s Knife before you could walk? How did you learn the craft of food making?
I’m sad to report that I never had an Easy-Bake oven. But I do remember having a great time in the kitchen with my Mom and Mommom, baking and cooking together. Since childhood, I’ve been a self-taught foodie in the making. I love to check out magazines and blogs about food, read cookbooks and watch too much food TV. Still waiting on that Easy-Bake, though….
Are there advantages to being an LGBTQ-owned business? Disadvantages?
The best part about being an out and proud queer business owner is that our community is so supportive. It’s nice to be able to provide sweets for my community knowing that they appreciate, as much as I do, a familiar business owner. It’s just that much easier to plan a birthday party, event or wedding knowing the clientele feels comfortable.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since the fall of 2003, into the spring of 2004. Coming out is a process, of course. The hardest person to tell was my freshman-year roommate, since she was the first person I had to tell in person, face to face. I had called my 3 best friends, as they were at different colleges, so that wasn’t so bad. And I knew my roommate wouldn’t care- she was pretty cool. And I’m sure she knew already, since I had my girlfriend at the time. But the idea of saying it out loud, to someone’s face, was a bit nerve-racking.
Rest assured, it went fine. She was cool. And we’re still friends. (Thanks, Keren.)
Who’s your queer hero? Queero, if you will.
Well, like your typical organizer I am thankful for Harvey Milk, Audre Lorde, and the like. But I really thought LezGetTogether would have asked me about my Queer crush. So here it is: At a Creating Change conference once, I was smooshed in an elevator with Kate Clinton and a ton of other people. Maybe I’d been drinking. The conversation went like this:
S: You’re pretty funny, you know.
K: Well that’s good. Since I am a comedian.
S: I know! It’s really working out then.
(Kate laughs. Sara probably makes a silly face)
S: I would totally make out with you.
(Kate blushes a wee bit and laughs some more)
Friend 1: Kate, have you met Sara?
Then the elevator doors open and my hopes and dreams fly out into the lobby. Bye, Kate.
Was there a person, event, or experience that really inspired your idea for Grassroots Gourmet?
For a couple years my friends and family would try my treats and continue to say “These are really good. We’d pay for these. No, really!” It’s the community support that has been the reason I have had the courage to start and run my own business.
What do you wish you’d known ten years ago?
I wish 10 years ago I had the foresight to take a business class. That would have been helpful, maybe. My Sociology degree and organizing experience are very helpful; don’t get me wrong.
When's the last time you did a somersault?
I’m sure that at some point over the past 4 summers as a counselor for Girls Rock DC I’ve done a somersault with my 8 year old girls. If not, this summer I will be sure to fit that in.
What's the longest you've owned (and worn, if only occasionally) a pair of shoes?
I have a pair of “dress-up” sneaks from the summer before my freshman year of college. I used to wear them out dancing in college. They have newspaper print on the sides. They probably get a few good wears a year at this point, but I’ve still got ‘em.
How can members of LezGetTogether.com help Grassroots Gourmet succeed?
Grassroots Gourmet is proud to announce that we are in the process of opening a brick and mortar shop. We are building my dream kitchen, planning a small store-front, and very excited for the next big steps. We hope LezGetTogether fans can find us online (grassrootsgourmet.org) like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter. You can join our mailing list for updates as we get ready to open up shop. In the meantime, check out our online menus and let us know the next time you need sweet treats baked fresh and delivered. Thanks!