From Savory Insects to Artisan Chocolate and Sweet Potato Pie, Culinary Treats Run the Gamut at Maker Faire Bay Area

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From Savory Insects to Artisan Chocolate and Sweet Potato Pie, Culinary Treats Run the Gamut at Maker Faire Bay Area

Chances are every single one of us, at some point in our lives, must be a maker of food, or a food maker, if you will. The beauty of Maker Faire is that it’s not just robots, but rather a magical mix of tech and tradition, electronics and edibles, and pretty much everything in between. With some projects, the main “innovation” may be fine-tuned artisanal craftsmanship.

One area at Maker Faire Bay Area that has been showcasing food makers for years is Homegrown Village, where you can meet many food experts in their field, be it fermentation, chocolate, cheese, spices, or some other tasty persuasion. The best part is that, in true Maker Faire fashion, these folks are happy to share their tips and techniques. Scroll down for a sampling of the hands-on workshops and presentations that will be in Homegrown Village, in Zone 8, this year.

A new feature at this year’s Faire is an entire section devoted to cutting-edge food and food production, curated by the folks at Future Food, a worldwide initiative based out of Italy. Whether it be alternative proteins, indoor gardening, waste reduction, super foods, or community gardens, these makers are pushing the envelope of food production in hopes of a more sustainable future for us all. Check them out in Redwood Hall, Zone 7, and get a sampling of the projects on display below.

In this roundup, we mostly focus on food, but of course there would be no food if not for gardening. For many of the gardening-related projects that will be at Maker Faire this year, check out the Earth Day roundup we put together a couple of weeks ago.

All this and more will be waiting for you at the 12th annual Maker Faire Bay Area, taking place May 19–21 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds, south of San Francisco.



What is Future Food, you may ask? They say it best on their site:

Future Food is an entire ecosystem that makes food innovation a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future, connecting with the world while promoting the local territory.

This comprehensive ecosystem centers around education, the Future Food Institute Trust, through its precious global partnerships, the Food Innovation Program and the numerous international training projects, provides a true platform of positive cross-pollination and constant inspiration.

In the ecosystem there is also a Future Food Accelerator that supports food corps and institutions on the paths towards open innovation, as well as training startup, nurturing communities of young entrepreneurs and scientists with “disruptive” ideas through laboratories.

The last project is the Future Farm: 70 hectares of land dedicated to combine farming traditions (protection of biodiversity and organic production of old variety of seeds), and new technologies and materials for the development of waste.

On our site, we’ve been fortunate to have Chiara Cecchini of Future Food’s Food Innovation Program blogging profiles of some interesting makers leading the charge in this field. The series is called Edible Innovations, and we encourage you to take a look to learn more. Chiara will be speaking at Maker Faire at the Make: Live Stage on Saturday, 5/20/17, from 12:45 PM – 1:30 PM (PDT).

Here is just a sampling of the Future Food Makers who will be at Maker Faire Bay Area this year.

Bitty Foods: Fun with Cricket Flour

Cricket flour is exactly what it sounds like: a finely milled flour made from whole crickets. Crickets can be grown using very little land or water, and they consume waste-stream food products. They might be the most sustainable protein on earth. Bitty Foods will be showcasing their cricket flour and the delicious things you can make with it.

Don Bugito

Don Bugito is a San Francisco based food company that has been offering planet-friendly protein snacks, featuring delicious edible insects in savory and sweet flavors, since 2010. They’ve recently opened an urban farming operation in Oakland and will be on hand to discuss how sustainable and ecological edible insects are and you can go about creating an edible insect farm for your home.

Read the Edible Innovations profile of Don Bugito.

Dandelion Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the few foods that is both fermented and roasted, two processes that create interesting flavor notes. It can have more complexity than wine, but as most companies will try to remove these nuances for the sake of consistency and cost, many people have never experienced chocolate’s full potential. Learn how to make chocolate throughout the day with the artisans at Dandelion Chocolate! Smell the cocoa roasting and refining, touch the cocoa beans, hear the beans break and the chocolate bar snap, taste the nibs and molten chocolate, and see the particle size decrease before your eyes.

Check out the ripe pods!

Read the Edible Innovations profile of Dandelion Chocolate.


Grow-IoT is an open-source Internet of Things platform for growing things! As a tangible example, they’ve built a computer-controlled growing environment. It consists of a closet-sized grow tent, an LED light, a hydroponics setup, fans, pumps, a camera, and lots of sensors. Common Garden is working on making a suite of open-source software for growing things.

Imperfect Produce

Imperfect Produce is a produce company on a mission to reduce food waste and create a more sustainable food system. They purchase produce from farmers that cannot be sold at conventional grocery stores due to sizing, shape, coloration, and overall aesthetic issues. As a leading force in the “ugly produce movement,” Imperfect saves over 100,000 pounds of produce from being wasted in the field or landfill each week! They will share free fruit, chat about food waste, and engage folks in their mission to reduce waste.

Read the Edible Innovations profile of Imperfect Produce.



Take a break from the blinky beepy to learn how to make sauerkraut, sweet potato pie, jam, and more. Hungry for knowledge? Head to Homegrown Village in Zone 8.

The Sauerkraut Marathon

Fermenting is one of our favorite things to do at Happy Girl Kitchen. This workshop will begin with an introductory talk and tasting and we begin to divulge all of our secrets on how to get the right texture and flavor in your pickles. All of our recipes are simple and delicious and we will teach you how to keep it safe and yummy. Through demonstration and hands-on instruction, all participants will be empowered to make live culture ferments. Everyone will take home a jar of sauerkraut!

Hands-On Homegrown Workshop
Saturday 5/20/17 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM (PDT)
Sunday 5/21/17 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM (PDT)

Creating a Gourmet Sweet Potato Pie

Charlie Swift of Charlie Frank’s Pies is the creator of their famous gourmet sweet potato pies that come in peach, vanilla fudge, coconut rum, and Caribbean ginger, creating a virtual revolution in the world of pies. Charlie’s presentation will explore the inner process of creating a sweet potato pie and actualizing that recipe into a mouthwatering dessert creating an eating experience.

Maker Square Stage
Saturday 5/20/17 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM (PDT)

DIY Tea Blending

Join the folks of T-We Tea for a fun-filled tea workshop where you’ll learn about tea and then try your hands at making your own mini signature blend. Topics covered: What is tea? Countries of origin. The processes to make the different types of tea. Herbals. Blending tips and tricks. Then hands on!

Hands-On Homegrown Workshop
Saturday 5/20/17 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM (PDT)
Sunday 5/21/17 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM (PDT)

Cooking With Dehydrated Food

Learn how to use dehydrated food to add nutrition and flavor to things your family already eats with Kelly Manzo from A Pop Above. Presentation includes ideas for meat rubs, seasoning side dishes, soups, dips, and desserts.

Maker Square Stage
Sunday 5/21/17 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM (PDT)

Making Brie and Camembert at Home

Making your own cheese at home is easier and much more fun than most people think! Warm some milk, mix some cultures, cut the curd, add to baskets, and age to perfection. Come discuss the science, the art form, some history, and even the magic of home cheesemaking in this quick and dirty discussion that will have you salivating and begging for more! Come revel in cheese with Nicole Easterday, the founder of FARMcurious.

Maker Square Stage
Saturday 5/20/17 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM (PDT)

Note: Nicole is also presenting “Fermented vegetables your kids will beg for!” on the Maker Square Stage on Sunday 5/21/17 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM (PDT).

Home Distilling: Moonshine, Alt Fuels and More

Learn how the maker community is embracing one of America’s most controversial folk arts and adding tech to make it their own with Jeff King of Red Beard Studios. From CNC cut MakerStills to Arduino-powered fermentation monitors, makers today are combining science with art and reinventing the rebel spirit that helped found this nation.

Maker Square Stage
Saturday 5/20/17 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM (PDT)

How to Make Jams

Coco Guilhem, founder of Maison de Monaco, has been making fruit preserves since she was a child in Brittany, France. Coco will demonstrate how to make fruit preserves at home in small batches.

Maker Square Stage
Saturday 5/20/17 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM (PDT)

Tempering Chocolate: Why & How

Cocoa butter, one of the primary components of chocolate, forms into one of several types of crystalline structure when solid, some of which are more desirable than others. In this demo, Sivan Wilensky of Suite Foods will go over tempering methods used to achieve the ideal structure and explain what their differences are.

Maker Square Stage
Sunday 5/21/17 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM (PDT)

Seed Propagation and Flat Building

In this workshop led by Justin Cutter, founder of mobile garden Compass Green, come and make a seed flat using recycled materials, and start some seeds for a late summer harvest. Participants will also learn about Biointensive sustainable agriculture and companion planting.

Check out the cool concept behind Compass Green:

Hands-On Homegrown Workshop
Saturday 5/20/17 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (PDT)
Sunday 5/21/17 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (PDT)

Fizzy, Funky, Fermented Carrots

Did you know sweet and crunchy carrot sticks are great for at-home fermentation? Join Kelly McVicker, Founder of McVicker Pickles, for this hands-on workshop making fermented carrot sticks. Participants will make their own jar (limited to the first 30) and choose spices to create custom flavors.

Hands-On Homegrown Workshop
Saturday 5/20/17 1:30 PM – 2:15 PM (PDT)
Sunday 5/21/17 1:30 PM – 2:15 PM (PDT)

Tinker Kitchen

Tinker Kitchen is a food-hacking community building a makerspace in San Francisco with all the cooking gadgets you can’t fit into your kitchen. Come play with industrial culinary hardware like sous vide circulators, commercial pasta extruders, chocolate tempering machines, and more! They’ll be doing demos at their booth all day.

Hungry yet? Come meet all these amazing makers at the 12th annual Maker Faire Bay Area, May 19–21 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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