“We’re changing the way people eat and the way people cook.” That may seem an immodest quote, but it comes off matter-of-factly when uttered by Crystal “Chef Pink” DeLongpré of Bacon & Brine in Solvang. Chef Pink and her wife and business partner, Courtney Rae DeLongpré (she’s the briner), are now cranking at their new full-kitchen restaurant on Copenhagen Drive, where they’ve been making what they call hyper-local food for two months now.
“Our menu is dictated by what we have available instead of making a menu and then substituting ingredients,” explained Chef Pink. “It takes a certain kind of temperament in the kitchen to deal with this every day. It’s a completely different prep list each day.”
When first opening Bacon & Brine as a simple sandwich shop in June 2014, Chef Pink turned to pigs because they are a particularly sustainable protein. Today, relying on one farm where “all the animals are raised for us,” they work through one animal at a time so each day can feature a different cut. “People are a lot more receptive to terms like organic, local, sustainable — these words weren’t associated with meat a few years back,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be just quinoa and kale that’s organic and local.”
Indeed, given that quinoa is almost all grown in South America, Chef Pink explained, “We don’t have a lot of grains on our menu. It’s shocking for some people who don’t get the concept. They ask, ‘Where’s the filler?’ But if you’re sustained by the protein, you’re getting a full, healthy meal. They just don’t know it, as it’s disguised with bacon.”
Like the pigs, the restaurant’s produce also comes entirely from Santa Ynez Valley farms, which the Bacon & Brine team got to know quite well this past summer. “All our servers were planting crops and shoveling pig shit,” she said. “Everyone knows why we do what we do.”
Despite the team-building, summer wasn’t all fun: The DeLongprés had to rent their new location sight unseen, only to discover it needed months of work. “It would take a lot to throw us for a loop next time,” said Chef Pink. “We lost the whole summer having to rebuild the entire building down to the framework.” That struggle with fundraising and rebuilding is captured vividly in the TV documentary Hungry (see below).
Ultimately, Chef Pink wants to “share what we’ve learned about the best ways to do farm-to-table and help food culture as a whole.” And then one day perhaps even relax. “Maybe in two years I can have a day off,” she said. “Probably not, but I can dream.”
1618 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang; (805) 688-8809; baconandbrine.com
‘Hungry’ Shows Chefs’ Struggle Against Sexism
Chef Pink is no stranger to the small screen, having appeared on Spike TV’s Bar Rescue and Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen. But she felt like a stranger as part of a new food doc, Hungry, which premieres on the Logo network on November 17.
“The movie was focused on gender inequality, and I never saw it as a problem,” she explained. “I thought, ‘Just work harder.’ But after seeing the final film and the statistics, it’s a pretty big bummer.” The most striking stat for Pink and Courtney Rae? Only 4 percent of small business loans go to women.
Their six-month struggle to crowdfund the expansion of Bacon & Brine is just one of three stories told in Hungry about female chefs trying to make it in a world dominated by men. There’s also Chef Sarah Kirnon, who’s trying to turn Miss Ollie’s in Oakland into a collective, and Chef Dakota Weiss, owner of Estrella and Sweetfin Poké in Los Angeles, who’s trying to launch a franchising empire. It’s a powerful, passionate look at the ways the battle for women is never over.
Hungry premieres Thursday, November 17, at 9 p.m. on Logo.