The stories of great local food – restaurants, farms and artisan foods – brought to you via the web, print and social media.
From Concept to Preview
We love good food. Our senses and taste buds come alive when we discover great new restaurants, farmers markets, artisan foods, cooking classes and food tours. We love meeting all the talented local cuisine creators and often find the stories behind their businesses just as fascinating as their food.
We’ve recently met:
- A former bread salesman turned sausage maker turned Penngrove restaurateur. Amazing sausage!
- A Petaluma insurance agent that was inspired to get into organic farming after reading the book the Omnivore’s Dilemma. Such a cool experience to be on their farm.
- And a Mendocino fisherman that began making gourmet salt from the water he previously fished. We never knew salt could be so interesting.
One night after watching “Diner’s Drive-in’s and Dives” on the Food Network we started wondering why there wasn’t something that told these great stories locally. A place that connected local folks with local food in a fun way... food is supposed to be fun!
So like that bread salesman, insurance agent and fisherman, we took a leap of faith and jumped in wholeheartedly to create Forks Up Sonoma. Our vision is that Forks Up will be the definitive place to discover and share all those great local restaurants, farms and artisan foods.
We built a website, created the social media pages and then we figured, what the heck, let’s make a magazine too (that way we can send it to people around Sonoma County!). Of course we plan on creating some cool apps too but that’s down the road a bit.
In Search of Great Food
Our first task was to find all those great local restaurants we have passed by a thousand times but hadn’t ventured into yet, plus the ones we love. Creating a database of these establishments, we reached out to local mothers clubs, firefighters, realtors, and folks in the neighborhood to create review teams. Off they went to dine and relay their experiences to us. At Forks Up we seek honest feedback from real folks… just like you. And we decided our first rule would be: in order to participate in Forks Up an establishment must first receive a positive review from one of our teams. That way it keeps everyone honest.
We then found some great local writers to write the articles. We wanted people who could bring a certain level of art to the stories just as a chef does to a recipe. After that we loaded up our camera gear and went out to take great food photos… because we’re pretty good photographers.
Finally, we launched the preview magazine and website. People went crazy for it! The response has been phenomenal. Chefs, farms, local food artisans have been calling interested in being reviewed with the hopes of being featured in the Forks Up Network.
Yanni’s Sausage Grill, one of the featured restaurants in the Forks Up preview is a good example of what we’re about. Yanni’s is a 220 sq ft (not a typo) restaurant with seating for 9 (again, not a typo) opened by a former bread salesman. He’s won gold medals two years in a row at the local harvest fair.
The Yanni’s article is called “the Wow Factor.” It is written by a local writer named Michael Larrain and photographed by Margi. The article begins… “Received wisdom insists that there are two things in this world you do not want to see in the making: laws and sausages. But a hole-in-the-wall, almost entirely take-out eatery tucked into the tiny town of Penngrove, has already proven, quite early in its run, to be the exception to this rule. Anyone who’s had the good fortune to fall into Yanni’s Sausage Grill might well want to become acquainted with every part of the process, so savory are the results.” The article continues at Forks Up Sonoma.
Still hungry? Then read more:
Now imagine those types of stories covering the entire local food spectrum of restaurants, farms and artisan foods. Think you’d be able to find something interesting? We think you will.
Click the “back this project” button above to help us continue to tell these stories and drive the local food economy.
What We Will Use The Money For:
While we already have over two dozen restaurants reviewed and another dozen restaurants, farms and food artisans waiting to be reviewed, we need a little more money to pay the authors, engineer some new website features and print our first run (up to 15,000 copies) of the debut magazine.
What Are The Forks Up Rules?
- The food must receive a positive review from one of our local review teams.
- Restaurants must be local, so no big chains or franchises.
- Farmers and Artisan Food creators must sell to the public either directly or through local retailers.
- We don’t publish bad reviews. If we receive a less than favorable review, we share that information with the business owner but that is a far as it goes. We want to promote good food, not hurt the bad. That’s just bad karma anyway.
- Reviews are done by request of the business owner. We don’t schedule secret reviews because like we have seen from the TV show Kitchen Nightmares… you can’t hide bad food. Besides we are interested in the story. We like when our review teams are engaged with the chefs, restaurant owners, farmers and artisan food creators.
What Forks Up Doesn’t Have
- Critics: Our review teams are sent to experience the food. They are not food critics, just normal people who like good food. We want the human story not the angry old man with an ax to grind approach.
- Ratings: We don’t rate restaurants, farms or artisan foods. Until 3 stars or 4 clovers mean the same to everyone it’s really a pointless exercise. We will never tell you which local cheese is the best. Food is subjective.
- Best of Lists: Forks Up will never ever rank food against each other. While we certainly have our favorites, they might not be the same as yours. We ask our review teams to share their experience using descriptive terms so you can get a sense of the food, then you can make your own decisions.
- Negative Reviews: If you want to read negative reviews you’ll have to go somewhere else. Negative reviews can kill a business. And besides does reading a negative review actually enrich your own life? We doubt it. We are not interested in negative reviews…or sharing them with others. When we receive a less than favorable review, it stays between us, the review team and the food entrepreneur. If they’re able to make a living selling bad food, then who are we to take that away from them?
Who Are We?
Kevin – the idea guy. He’s always tinkering with some new creation… you’ll see a bunch more coming to kickstarter soon!
Margi – the rebel for a cause. If she is not out and about advocating for a cancer organization, she’s probably taking pictures somewhere.
Alma – the trained killer. Every organization needs a great sales person and she’s it! Alma’s high energy and love for GREAT food is a great mix for the Forks Up Team.
Where Are We?
Initially we’ll just be in Sonoma County. But we have plans to take the concept to other locales as well.
Yanni's Article Written by Michael Larrain
Photographs by Margi Levin
Background Music: "True Moments" by JewelBeat.com. Used under their standard license agreement numbered 120306184126.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
YES, WE DELIVER --- No need to venture out, we’ll come to you. $10 donors will receive a thank you postcard reproduction of the first ever Forks Up Sonoma cover announcing our debut to the public.Estimated delivery:
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SOUP DU JOUR --- This is better and more exclusive than the Hollywood Walk of Fame (OK, it’s not but just go with us on this one). $25 donors will be listed as a supporter in the first issue of the magazine and will receive a copy of the magazine. Plus you will also receive the Yes, We Deliver Reward.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
STIRRING COMMITTEE --- Yes, we play with food AND words. The Stirring Committee is kind of a combination of a focus group and fan club. Before we introduce something new, we’ll ask for your opinion. When we have a cool food event to go to, you will be in the know and notified first. It is sure to enrich your food experience. There will always be more stuff we’re adding to make it a more stirring adventure! Plus you’ll get the Soup de Jour and Yes, We Deliver Rewards.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
CLAM BAKE --- Pledging 100 clams? Forget those cheesy plastic bibs with the crustacean on it… be a mollusk! With this reward, you can hit the red carpet when you wear your hip Forks Up official launch t-shirt. Plus you’ll get the Stirring Committee, Soup de Jour and Yes, We Deliver.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $250 or moreYou selected
EXTRA SHOTS --- Our Co-Founder (and resident photographer) Margi tends to take more pictures than we can fit into the magazine or website (plus she doesn’t always stick to the shot lists). Her snap happy work has found its way into national publications and even bottles of Jones Soda and now you benefit too. Your Extra Shot is a signed 8x10 print of her work. You will choose from a small collection of cool food, agriculture, nature or environment shots and select which print will soon be adorning your wall. Plus you’ll get the Clam Bake, the Stirring Committee, Soup de Jour and Yes, We Deliver Rewards.Estimated delivery:
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CUP O’ JOE --- The great thing about producing great stories and photographs is they’re great reading and they’ll enrich anyone’s home. With the Cup O’Joe reward you will receive a beautiful soft cover edition of the stories within Forks Up -- a perfect enhancement for your coffee table. Each copy will be signed and numbered by the Forks Up founders. Plus you’ll get the Extra Shots, Clam Bake, the Stirring Committee, Soup de Jour and Yes, We Deliver Rewards.Estimated delivery:
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CHEFS TABLE --- No knife skills practice here, just toasting great food, fascinating conversations and new friends over dinner. Four donors (plus guest) will join the Forks Up team in Sonoma County for dinner. Plus you’ll get the Cup o’ Joe, Extra Shots, Clam Bake, the Stirring Committee, Soup de Jour and Yes, We Deliver Rewards.Estimated delivery:
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3-COURSE FOOD TOUR --- Do you like food adventures? Then join us on a 3-stop Sonoma County Food tour. We will delight your senses and taste buds with stops for Appetizers, Entrees and Desserts. Plus you’ll get the Cup o’ Joe, Extra Shots, Clam Bake, the Stirring Committee, Soup de Jour and Yes, We Deliver Rewards.Estimated delivery:
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TODAY’S SPECIAL --- While Forks Up doesn’t use traditional advertisements like other websites, we will take on some corporate sponsors during our growth stage. For writing that big check, we will display a banner in a special “Forks Up Sonoma is underwritten by” section which will be located just above the footer on every web page. Banners will rotate with each new page load and stay in the rotation for six months. Plus you’ll get the Cup o’ Joe, Extra Shots, Clam Bake, the Stirring Committee, Soup de Jour and Yes, We Deliver.Estimated delivery:
- (45 days)