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Small Business Spotlight: Artisan’s Palate

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Store owner Pia Maffei shows off local products – Alex Groves photo

Any frequent shopper can likely attest to the fact that when they go to the store, there are usually items with ingredients they’re not familiar with.

A quick scan of labels will reveal a number of unheard of or unhealthy ingredients such as L-Cyesteine, Calcium Triphosphate, High Fructose Corn Syrup and others.

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Local products – Alex Groves photo

And then there’s always the issue of where food comes from. Many of the food stuffs at larger chains tend to come from places far, far away.

It’s something that some of the experts thoroughly engaged in how food is made and shipped have complained about but not changed. In this modern jungle of capitalistic enterprise, the distributors of the mass produced and poorly made tend to hold the most sway over the market.

But in recent years, individuals like Pia Maffei are leading the charge to inspire people to consider the importance of their local artisans and farmers. Her store, Artisan’s Palate, specializes in the unique products made right here at home. Almost everything comes from farms and markets no more than 100 miles away and you can expect the kind of quality of the “mom and pop” shops of old.

Maffei said she’s proud of how her shop exhibits and celebrates the “boutique foodmaker,” and that she has tried to pull together locally-made products from a number of different individuals.

“We’re thrilled to say that we have over 25 micro-local artisans,” Maffei said.

For those looking to get a taste of Southwest Riverside, the rear of the store offers products made in such areas as Temecula, Murrieta and Hemet.

Then, as customers move from the rear of the store toward the storefront, they will find even more products made within a 100 mile radius. However, these items have a special distinction, according to Maffei.

“Everything from here up is from within the 100 mile, but got recognized by a national authority,” she said. “And these national authorities were Dr. Oz, Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey and Food Network.”

These authority-recognized foods are located around a tablet on one of the bottom shelves of the store, a project that Maffei funded through the help of popular crowdfunding website Kickstarter.

The tablet runs an app which allows people to see some of the testimonials and programs where the various items were featured.

Maffei said that she realized she wanted to create a project that would allow people to know their local artisans and the products these artisans created as a way of forming a basis of comparison against the multitude of similar items offered by the big chain stores. She realized this after many years of working in a technology-fueled industry.

“I spent the past 25 years in technology,” she said. “And basically the last five years I went from software technology to hardware. And the technology was always 3D graphics and animation and then it went into 3D displays without glasses.”

Maffei said that she worked as the Chief Operating Officer for the North American division of a French company that specialized in these kinds of technologies but that such a position entailed a lot of responsibility.

The food-lover said that her moment of clarity came when, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in New York, the company seemed not to care about what she had to go through while staying there for business.

The result? Maffei’s decision to combine two of her passions – technology, as evidenced by the tablet, and also food and the people behind it.

Maffei said that one of her favorite things about the products is that natural element they all contain.

“(I love) telling stories of who’s making the items,” she said. “And because everything’s handcrafted in small micro-batches, there’s no preservatives and there’s no junk in anything.”

1 Comment on Small Business Spotlight: Artisan’s Palate

  1. I just love this store! You really feel like you are in Pias’ home and she is showing you around! Fabulous products and wonderful prices! I wish her lots of success in Temecula!

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