Actually, first we ate their arepa's, and they were so delicious we had to find out who made them. So we walked from our coffee booth down to the stand they were sharing with our friends, Leaves and Flowers, and had our first encounter with Yo También. Kenzie and Isa were calmly, almost nonchalantly, whipping up their arepa's. It was clear they really find their zen through cooking, and take joy in sharing it with other people.
This summer, Kenzie & Isa have been living and working at Full Belly Farm in the Capay Valley of Northern California. We reached out to them to share a bit of what life's like at the farm, and get the story behind how they met, how they work together, and how Yo También came to be. We hope you enjoy!
Casey & Ally: Tell us about your morning rituals!
Making time in the morning before starting a crazy day is essential for our success (and sanity). This is very difficult more often than not due to the fact WE LOVE SLEEP.
We enjoys mornings more than anything and always wake up early enough to spend some time together, drink coffee and cook breakfast before starting our days off to different directions. EGGS ARE A MUST! When we’re living in SF we love sitting on the front stoop and soak in the first rays of sun in our underwear. Neighbors and the mailman love us.
While living at Full Belly Farm this summer, our morning rituals have remained the same in some ways, and changed in others. We definitely still make time for breakfast - eggs and coffee are still essential. A bit of chill time before the busy day commences also takes place on our very short commute to work, which now involves walking past fresh figs trees and seeing how many fit into our mouths.
C+A: When did you both start drinking coffee, and how?
Isa: I remember my dad would always order an espresso shot after dinner and that ritual stuck with me. As a kid, I always wanted to order one as well, but naturally was not allowed to drink coffee at such a young age, so my parents came up with ordering me a “teterito” which literally translates to “little baby bottle” so I could share that ritual with my dad. In Venezuela, a teterito is basically steamed milk with a maybe a tiny drop of coffee. Later on, those teteritos became heavily caffeinated once I started architecture school and just never went back from that moment on.
Kenzie: I started drinking cups of coffee as a part of my daily morning routine while in first year University. There was an amazing coffee shop on campus that had basic drip coffee and you could skip the line if you had the exact amount of change and used your own mug. Party time.
C+A How did you meet?
I: I always love to say that we met at this job we both had where Kenzie was my boss and then she had to fire me because she fell in love with me, ha! Makes a great story but it’s not 100% accurate. We did work together for about a month or so but actually met through friends and seeing each other at events and art shows. We became really good friends and went camping together a bunch, organized dinner parties with friends, and went swimming in the ocean frequently. Then I fed Kenzie a fish eye once and the rest is history.
K: Isa scared the bananas out of me right from the beginning. She was all of a sudden always around and was talking about her ceviche and cooking expertise. Someone invited her to my birthday and I thought she drugged me. She didn’t. Her energy and passion for life made me want to be around her all the time, and that’s exactly what ensued. She did give me a fish eye to eat at one of our first dinner parties - I thought she was nuts but I did eat it and it’s now a tradition that I crave.
C+A: You both have been living and working on a farm this summer—something many people dream of doing. What led you to do that, and how has it been?
K: Our summer living here at Full Belly Farm in Guinda, CA has been a whirlwind. We’ve been working events and the Farmers Market for Full Belly for two years or so, so when the opportunity to move to the farm and work full-time in the kitchen was presented to us, we knew it was something we had to do!! We’ve been hosting YoTambién events for a year and desired to learn more about the systems in the kitchen as well as growing all of the ingredients needed for our recipes. Seeing the full circle of how crops are planted, harvested, packaged, and then delivered to restaurants as well as us in the kitchen has been an eye-opening experience.
Hanging out with the goats and taking river dips has been pretty great too …
I: What Kenzie said.. Also, it just feels great to take a break from the city life and realize that you don’t need much to lead a healthy and happy life. Just strong coffee and good food and books, and oh! and your main squeeze.
C+A: You guys are a couple (like us!) who live, work and play together. Any tips for how to make it work?
Oh well, it’s definitely interesting, haha! When we work, we try to be very professional and give each other honest feedback, without taking things personally. We both admire the differences we have as individuals, and are always learning new things about ourselves from each other. We make a good team because of our various strengths that have become increasingly complementary. But mainly, we just enjoy spending time with each other more than anything. We believe it’s a privilege to share so many aspects of our lives and to have projects of our own that we work towards together.
C+A Your arepas are delicious. What’s the story of YoTambién? And why arepas?
K: Isa gave me my first arepa on the back porch of a surf shack at Ocean Beach in the Sunset District of SF. It was stuffed with avocado, dusted with salt & pepper, and that was it .. so simple. I loved it. We started making them every Sunday for breakfast with eggs, fresh cilantro, and other local produce we’d get at the farmers market. This tradition was something we began to share with roommates, friends, and family when they visited. Arepas are so versatile and so damn tasty I’M OBSESSED. It’s a humble Venezuelan street food that is eaten by many, and needs to be shared .. now more than ever in a country that is going through the hardest time it has ever encountered. The Venezuelan culture and family dynamic is so strong and beautiful and I want everyone to know about it. I love Isa’s family with my whole heart, and feel so honored to be a part of their traditions.
I: Arepas are the daily bread of Venezuelan people. An arepa is probably the first thing you’ll learn to make growing up, and it can be eaten at any time of the day, so it was just one of the first things we started cooking together. When Kenzie and I started hanging out more, I remember we once made a ton of spring rolls to take down to the beach and started joking about how fun would it be if we had a food business. I guess it naturally evolved into a real thing, we both started working at the Farmers Market for Full Belly and always got to bring home so many goodies. We loved experimenting with new recipes and hosting people over at our place for meals. My Venezuelan heritage is so important to me - I’m always trying to share it with everybody! Food just happened to be a great way to do so. YoTambién explores traditional Venezuelan and tropical recipes, made with local California ingredients - it represents us, our diverse backgrounds, and our current lifestyle in a place we’re making our home.
C+A: What are your favorite spots to eat (1) in the Bay area, and (2) in THE WORLD!
1. Outerlands 2. Trouble Coffee 3. Bar Crudo 4. Mission Chinese 5. Bartavelle (Berkeley) 6. Ippuku (Berkeley) 7. Penrose (Berkeley) 8. Ramen Shop (Berkeley) 9. Flour + Water
One of the best meals I’ve had is fresh sardine skewers under a bridge right by the Bosforo river in Istanbul, Turkey. Also, there is no experience like eating oysters from a bucket in front of the ocean at Margarita Island, Venezuela.
1. Picnic at Ocean Beach with olives, a fresh loaf of bread from Josie Baker, homemade baba ganoush, cucumbers, and sardines !!
2. This woman’s house in Colombia where she cooked us breakfast that consisted of fresh tomate de arbol juice, perico (traditional egg scramble) and frrrrrresh arepas.
C+A: Who would you love to have a coffee with (can be anyone, dead or alive)?
K: Meryl Streep and/or 2 Chainz, maybe even at the same time … ?