Christine Doerr is a certified chef, professional graphics designer, and owner of NeoCocoa, where she creates luxurious, award-winning truffles, chocolates and other delicious treats.
She co-owns Kitchen 519, a shared-use commercial kitchen in the San Francisco Bay Area where she and her co-host Tammy Tan work with an exclusive and hand-picked group of talented food entrepreneurs on the cutting edge of culinary excellence (and record this podcast!).
Christine founded NeoCocoa in 2008, with the help of La Cocina, a non-proﬁt incubation program that helps female food entrepreneurs start and grow their business. In the years since founding NeoCocoa, she has garnered some serious accolades. She was most awarded at the 2011 San Francisco International Chocolate Salon with multiple awards including Best Truﬄe and Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience. In 2011, she was honored with the distinction of being named a top 10 North American Chocolatier by Dessert Professional magazine. In 2016 the Toffee Nib Brittle won a Good Food Award and in 2017 the Black Sesame Seed Brittle won a gold sofi (Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation) from the Specialty Food Association.
Christine continues to expand her product offering beyond her initial “Hearts of Chocolate” line of ganache truﬄes, creating a variety of other chocolate confections including barks, toffees, and chocolate covered marshmallows. She also serves on the Chef’s Council at CCD Inovations Inc and the is on the Pastry Program Advisory Committee (PAC) at the International Culinary Center.
June 16th, 2020 | 10 mins 57 secs
Update: Thanks to your purchases, we raised $1,800 to support the work of Planting Justice! Thank you for supporting this effort.
We’ve joined thousands of other #BakersAgainstRacism supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement by doing what we know best: making delicious food! All profits from the purchase of our brownies and spiced nuts supports Planting Justice, a non-profit organization with the mission to “Grow Food. Grow Jobs. Grow Community” by empowering “people impacted by mass incarceration and other social inequities with the skills and resources to cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing.” On this brief episode, we share our reasons for joining this movement, and why we chose Planting Justice to receive our donations.
May 28th, 2020 | 23 mins 3 secs
We’re back! We didn’t plan to be away this long, but the world changed, quickly. In this episode, we share what it’s been like running three essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how we’re coping with all the changes it’s brought about.
We’ll have more episodes throughout 2020, so thank you for staying subscribed (or for resubscribing)!
December 14th, 2019 | 46 mins 22 secs
In our final episode of 2019, we take a break from interviews to talk about our favorite (and busiest!) time of the year: The holidays! We get personal and chat about our holiday history, how we prepare (business-wise and personally), how we celebrate, and what we miss. Along the way, we admit a few shocking truths, from Tammy’s feelings on pumpkin pie to Christine’s childhood Halloween costume, and we wrap up with a holiday-themed Wrapid Fire and a heartfelt thank you to you, our listeners!
Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and see you in 2020!
(Recorded in November just ahead of Thanksgiving.)
November 23rd, 2019 | 59 mins 58 secs
In 2007, Anucha Kongthavorn stepped off a plane in San Francisco from his native Thailand, and got a job cooking the same day. He's spent his career in the service industry, from restaurant busser to cruise ship butler, culminating in opening his own Thai food take out, Mae Krua. He joins us to talk about his journey, shares his philosophy on serving others, provides advice on starting a restaurant, and explains why his restaurant regulars asked about his emotions before ordering.
November 9th, 2019 | 26 mins 46 secs
This episode we talk about something we both know a bit about: farmers’ markets. Both NeoCocoa and Spice Hound owe their early success to these neighborhood marketplaces, and we firmly believe they’re an amazing way for new food entrepreneurs to get started. We visit a local market to chat with vendors and shoppers, ponder their growing popularity in urban areas, and share our experiences from over a decade of being behind the table.
October 26th, 2019 | 50 mins 27 secs
Dan Mills turned his hobby of collecting commercial kitchen gadgets into Tinker Kitchen, a makerspace for community cooking. He joins us to talk about his inspiration for the space, why entrepreneurs need grit in the face of never-ending roadblocks, and how his very understanding girlfriend provided the (literal!) space he needed to succeed.
October 12th, 2019 | 59 mins 5 secs
Kelly Zubal of Inticing Creations made a custom guitar birthday cake for Journey guitarist Neal Schon, and appeared on TV next to Martha Stewart. Now she’s here with us to talk about how she got started in her sculpted edible cakes career, her experiences as a “reality tv star”, and why her husband “Home Boy” Pete is her third favorite kitchen tool.
September 28th, 2019 | 59 mins 55 secs
We discuss the state of “plant-based meat alternatives” then taste seven different burgers, beef and not-beef, to see if we like (or can even identify!) the plant-based ones from Impossible Food and Beyond Burger. These are definitely not your old-school alternatives like Boca Burger or Gardenburger. Do these lab-engineered foods actually taste like beef? Can a self-described carnivore and a non-beef eater find common ground in these patties, or will we be left asking “Where’s the beef?!”
September 14th, 2019 | 58 mins 38 secs
Growing up in a big Greek family, cooking for large groups was a natural part of Marissa Daskalakis Tsangaropoulos’ youth. She eventually turned that passion for bringing people together over food into a business, Fete Fraiche, first as a personal chef, and now as an event chef and caterer for the likes of Google and Stanford. Marissa shares the challenges of unanticipated growth, why saying no is such an important part of success, and the reason she’s such a gigantic fan of… lists and spreadsheets?
August 24th, 2019 | 59 mins 59 secs
The lack of decent lunch options led Koji Kanematsu to launch Onigilly, serving onigiri—traditional Japanese rice balls—to busy American workers. He now has an ambitious mission to build Onigilly into a nationwide chain of at least 500 locations, as a healthier alternative to Subway and McDonald’s. He joins us to share his vision, how his early career in high tech and mobile gaming prepared him for the food business, and why the death of his childhood friend inspires him to always move forward.
The end of this episode mentions the death of Koji’s friend by suicide. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org
August 10th, 2019 | 59 mins 31 secs
Steven Hollifield walked into a kitchen dish-pit, found it magical, and remained in food service his entire career. He now runs two kitchen-based businesses, Seismic BBQ and South Basin Kitchen, and joins us to discuss how he got his start, shares some sobering realities of owning a catering business in San Francisco, and of course, talks barbecue, from sauces to its place in American history. Learn about the value of a good partner, great suggestions for great meals, and why even the chefs at Michelin-rated restaurants go to... Taco Bell?
July 27th, 2019 | 17 mins 10 secs
It was unusually warm in San Francisco in early June, so we took a quick break from interviews to chat with each other about ice cream to keep us cool during these rare, warm San Francisco evenings. If you live in—or plan to visit—San Francisco, consider this a guide to delicious, creamy treats.
July 13th, 2019 | 51 mins 38 secs
Joel Sakakihara and his brother updated their grandfather’s 60 year old toffee recipe, and built a business that’s grown from farmer’s markets to Costco and Whole Foods. Joel joins us to chat about the complexities of running a rapidly-growing food business, advice for starting a food business of your own, and how he launched the company with... Arnold Schwarzenegger? Plus, the return of our favorite segment, Wrap-id Fire!
June 22nd, 2019 | 45 mins 27 secs
Award-winning pastry chef Robert Hac joins us to taste some of the best chocolate croissants in San Francisco. Robert is the pastry chef at Sons & Daughters, where he builds seasonal desserts inspired by memories of the foods he ate as a kid. He traces his love of cooking to his grandma, and the dumplings and mochi they made together. We talk about the start of his decade-plus career before Robert shares the essential trait needed to enter the culinary world, creeps himself out from his open kitchen, and defends the artisan creator. And what in the world does Jackson Pollock have to do with dessert? Tune in to find out!
June 8th, 2019 | 59 mins 36 secs
As an entrepreneur, you do what it takes to make your dream a reality, and Elyce Zahn almost literally built Coco Tutti by hand. She makes gorgeous, “addictively edible” chocolate artwork, an award-winning business she started just as her architectural business was going under. We cover a wide range of topics this episode, from Elyce’s start in the arts to having the vision to see a kitchen where others see an office. Learn what you can accomplish when you’re a one-woman force of nature.
May 25th, 2019 | 53 mins 52 secs
Mirit Cohen was “executive chef” of her family’s large dinner gatherings long before becoming Executive Chef at Google and Adobe, as well as CEO of her own “daily foodservice” business. Now Adobe’s Global Workplace Experience Programs Manager, Mirit shares her advice about the importance of identifying your market, the hazards of scaling too quickly, the right way to shut down a business, and why she believes sharing a meal is the original social networking.