Crumble & Whisk is a photography client of mine, so you might think me biased when I say that these are the best cheesecakes I have ever eaten. This isn’t a sponsored post, though, and anyway, I would never tell you that something tastes good if it doesn’t. If I wanted to play that game, I’d still be working at a marketing agency.
So believe me when I say that Charles Farriér’s cheesecakes are something special. And you don’t have to take my word for it — if you’re local, you’ll be able to try them at the SF Street Food Festival this Saturday.
Crumble & Whisk is known for innovative recipes, made with organic, seasonal produce — local, whenever possible. The menu changes regularly, according to what’s in season. And Farriér isn’t just shopping the berry section of the market.
A cheesecake called “The Dirty South” features organic sweet potatoes, seasoned with a brown sugar spice blend and topped with a bourbon caramel drizzle. Inspiration comes from all over — from a strawberry-basil cheesecake that reflects Farriér’s years in fine dining, to an orange liqueur-infused “Dream-sicle” cheesecake based on a favorite summertime treat from childhood.
For his “Beet & Berry” cheesecake, pictured above, he roasts baby beets and purees them with organic blueberries, swirling the sauce into the cheesecake batter, then tops it off with a blueberry and red wine compote. The combination works like a complex wine, with earthy notes that balance out the sweetness and acidity of the blueberries. Farriér says that some people are turned off by the name, though. “People who are used to normal, traditional flavors… They’re like, beets? Why would you put beets in a cheesecake?”
For those who prefer the classics, Farriér even makes a traditional New York style cheesecake. Like the rest of his menu, it features his signature shortbread crust — a crispy, buttery crust that has forever ruined me for the kind made from graham crackers. Classic doesn’t mean boring, though: his vanilla cheesecake is glazed with a Kentucky bourbon-infused caramel, and the decadent Triple Chocolate Threat combines semi-sweet chocolate cheesecake, chocolate ganache, and a chocolate version of his shortbread crust.
Crumble & Whisk came about as something of a fluke. Farriér went to culinary school after high school, and spent years working as a line cook in high-end restaurants, but eventually left the culinary world to take an office job. “I’d had enough of it,” he said.
It hadn’t had enough of him, apparently.
I was at work, and we were having a potluck, and my coworker said, “You were a cook, you should bring in a dessert.” Okay, well, I don’t know what to bring in. So I went home, fumbled through some books, and I decided to make a cheesecake. I wasn’t thinking about selling them at the time. But when I brought it into work, everyone said, “Oh, these are so good, you should sell them!”
He declined at first, but eventually, urged on by friends and co-workers, he began taking orders and baking cheesecakes on the weekends. Word spread. One day, as he was getting his hair cut, his barber suggested that bring some of his cheesecakes by the barbershop and sell them there. Farriér was dubious at first.
I said I didn’t know how that would work. But he said, you know, just try it. So I did, and people were like, “You should go to the beauty shop next door and see if they want some.” And so I went to the beauty shop next door and they were like, [shifts voice up an octave] “Oh yeah! You got cheesecake?” So that worked out. Then I went to the beauty shop across the street, and it just kind of grew from there.
And it kept growing. These days, Farriér rents commercial kitchen space at La Cocina, the San Francisco culinary incubator, and is growing Crumble & Whisk into a full-time business. As a member of La Cocina’s prestigious incubator program, he receives support and guidance with the business, regulatory, and technical aspects of food entrepreneurship, as well as access to the resources and markets necessary to build a successful food business. It’s going well — he recently won a Local Foodmaker grant from Whole Foods, and is hoping the retailer will begin carrying his cheesecakes (hint, hint).
Farriér’s next steps? Get Crumble & Whisk cheesecakes into stores around the Bay Area. (If you’re a retailer and interested in carrying them, you can reach him at crumbleandwhisk (at) gmail.com.) In the meantime, the rest of us can order cheesecakes by contacting Farriér directly — and yes, he’ll cater your party.