PHOTOGRAPHED BY KATHERINE RAPIN
Every year, Edible Communities magazines around the country ask you, our readers, to name Local Heroes in six categories. For 2017’s awards, Edible Philly partnered with the Philly Farm and Food Fest to select nominees—and then you voted. Your picks are celebrated on the following pages.
Dock Street co-founder Rosemarie Certo
“We started making beers
the way they were made in
the old country, and then we
made them better. We had no
tradition to hold us back.”
Dock Street Brewing is a Philly institution. They helped birth the craft-beer movement in the city in 1985, protested foreign tariffs on American beer in the nineties, and opened their West Philly brewery in 2007. At the beginning of it all, their simple mission was to elevate the status of beer. “We believed that beer didn’t have the respect it deserved,” says Dock Street co-founder Rosemarie Certo.
Back when most Americans were praising beers like Heineken, Dock Street built its first brewery on 18th and Cherry Streets—the first post- Prohibition craft brewpub in Philadelphia. “We started making beers the way they were made in the old country, and then we made them better,” Certo says. “We had no tradition to hold us back.”
That attitude has carried through the years, prompting the creation of oddball beers like the Walker (made with goat brains and cranberries at the peak of Walking Dead hype), or Ain’t Nothing to Funk With (a brew that vibrated to a six-month Wu-Tang playlist). They’re currently making a beer with wild yeast they’ve collected in West Philly, and plan to roll out a prickly-pear gose—which will be gluten-free—this spring. “We’re all alchemists,” says Certo. “Experimenting is all about making something different, something better.”
Dock Street is beloved for its classic beers, too, like the Rye IPA and Bohemian Pilsner, which it distributes across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The brewpub continues to serve as a gathering place for grad students, professors and longtime West Philadelphians. “This is a great local neighborhood hangout,” Certo says. “It really defines what the whole craft culture is about and the roots that it started in”—like making a quality product, supporting a sizeable staff (more than 30, and growing), and creating an environment where people can connect over great food and drink.
Dock Street also supports the community with benefits like Rare Beers for School Supplies. Each month, Certo taps a special beer to give away in exchange for paper, pencils and notebooks, which Dock Street donates to West Philadelphia schools.
With a cannery and second bar in the works next door, Dock Street will continue to be a neighborhood hub. It’ll also keep pushing craft beer to the forefront with the Philly spirit and spunk that makes it a local hero.
Dock Street Brewery
701 S. 50th St.
Dock Street is adding a new bar and cannery to their
brewery on the corner of 50th Street and Baltimore Avenue
Heather Marold Thomason and Cecilie May
“We’re working with the farmers
to know about their herd size,
their land and how it works for
them to produce animals for us.”
It’s a logistical challenge to get an animal from the small, local farm where it was raised to a slaughterhouse, then to a butcher and finally to a dinner plate. So butchers Heather Marold Thomason and Cecilie May designed a more convenient system that benefits small farmers and customers alike. Their new company, Primal Supply Meats, is both a subscription service for home cooks and a wholesale provider for restaurants.
Joining the Butcher’s Club subscription service is simple: Sign up online, choose your box size, and select your pickup location. You pay as you go and can pause or stop the service any time. Members and nonmembers can also purchase à la carte items like eggs, stock or strip steak. A week’s subscription box might include sausage, a roast, and a couple pounds of quick-cooking cuts like pork chops or top sirloin steak, but specific cuts rotate. “We track what we pack for everybody every week so we can ensure variety,” Thomason says.
The magic of Primal Supply is in the supply chain Thomason and May have set up. They source whole animals from their network of local beef, pork and poultry farmers. The animals are broken down into primal cuts (think loin, brisket, and shank for beef ) at Smucker’s Slaughterhouse in Lancaster, and then delivered to the Primal Supply facility, housed in 1732 Meats’ operation in Lansdowne. In the massive space, they cut and vacuum-seal the meat and pack shares based on each week’s orders.
Through their wholesale program, they deliver larger cuts and extra ground beef to restaurants like Aldine, Vetri, Bar Hygge, Fork and High Street. “We use the two programs to make sure that the whole animal gets used without any waste,” Thomason says.
Their whole animals come from eight farmers who raise beef, pork and poultry in Southeastern Pennsylvania. They create plans for the season based on availability and demand, sometimes as much as a year in advance. “We’re working with the farmers to know about their herd size, their land and how it works for them to produce animals for us,” Thomason says.
It’s the most important part of the supply chain, and it’s the reason Primal Supply started. “We saw how hard it was for farmers raising meat to get it cut and sold,” Thomason says. With tentative plans for a brick-and-mortar location, Thomason and May will continue to increase demand for local, sustainably raised meat and make it easier for us to get our hands on it.
The Fair Food Farmstand stocks a variety of guild members’ cheeses in their all-local case.
“We felt that it was
really important for the
cheesemakers to have
a voice, and to educate
themselves and the
The Pennsylvania Cheese Guild wants you to know that our state’s cheesemakers produce stunning cheeses that rival those of Vermont and Wisconsin. Under the Foundation for Enhancing Communities, the nonprofit supports a growing number of cheesemaker members like Shellbark Hollow Farm, Valley Milkhouse Creamery, and Clover Creek Cheese Cellar—some of our region’s top artisans.
A dedicated group of cheesemakers had formed an organization back in 2007, but it relied on volunteer time without ample support. Several years later, inspired by the crowding landscape of up-and-coming cheesemakers in the community, a group of cheesemakers, business owners and food scientists at Penn State revamped the guild.
“We felt that it was really important for the cheesemakers to have a voice and to educate themselves and the consumers collectively,” says Sue Miller, cheesemaker at Birchrun Hills Farm and one of the founding members of the guild.
Cheesemaker members get opportunities to learn and network at the guild’s educational events. Last year they organized a three-day workshop with Jim Wallace, a world traveler and cheese enthusiast who studied at the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese. Wallace demonstrated the preparation of six different cheeses and how to work with molds and age cheeses while providing historical background on the cheeses from his travels to Europe.… Read More