Having a foot in the worlds of food and international development led Ethan Frisch to create his spice company, Burlap and Barrel. He’d worked as a line cook and pastry chef in both New York and London, an ice cream maker serving politically inspired flavors on city streets, and as a logistics manager and policy advisor with various international organizations. All of this combined gave him the perfect set of skills to bring, for example, wild mountain cumin from Afghanistan into the restaurants of New York City.
He started the business in October, with a storage space in Queens, and now you can order smoked pimentón from him online. The goal? More transparency and traceability in the spice industry, where how these essential pieces of our cooking are grown, how they’re transported and how long they’re sitting in a warehouse are all generally unknown. “I wanted to shake that up a little bit,” he tells me. “It’s happened for coffee, it’s happened for chocolate—but it hasn’t happened for spices.”
Burlap and Barrel—run almost completely by Frisch himself—works directly with farms in a half-dozen countries. A few varieties of cardamom, allspice and annatto seeds come from a family farm in the cloud forests of central Guatemala; he might be the only person importing spices from Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, where they grow cinnamon, black pepper, clove and nutmeg.
Try some of the Zanzibar spices—cinnamon verum shavings, Zanzibar peppercorns and stone nutmeg in the shell—by entering our giveaway below!
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