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Natural cat food finds a niche at Smorgasburg

For Brooklyn Daily Eagle

`From Scratch’ caters to `sustainable’ owners

Shoppers at Williamsburg’s outdoor food market Smorgasburg expect vendors to make homemade and locally sourced goodies for them – not for their cats.

But that is exactly what From Scratch offers on Saturdays as Smorgasburg’s only food stall not interested in pleasing the human stomach.

The 4-month-old cat food company takes the same New Jersey-based DiPaola Farms turkey that other vendors use for sandwiches and purees it into a paste for felines–or the occasional adventurous human.

All three of the owners sample every batch of their human-grade and preservative-free pet food. The taste, they say, is close to an under-salted turkey pâté.

“The meat we use is so fresh and so fragrant that when the cat food is done cooking, it smells like Thanksgiving dinner,” said Jenny Tran, co-owner of From Scratch.

Tran and her two co-owners, Shabnam Azadeh and Matt Rosenberg, hope the quality of their products will attract cat owners who aim for more health-conscious food choices of their own.

 “Our product is for the kind of cat owner who wants to live a sustainable lifestyle and by natural extension wants every living thing in their home to as well,” Tran said.

One of those owners is Jason Ascher, who was one of the first customers to visit From Scratch’s stall at Smorgasburg.

“I wasn’t pleased with the cat food in my local grocery store and loved that From Scratch is human grade,” Ascher said. “The mass store brands can actually have some harmful elements in them like grains that cats really have no need for. I like that theirs has no fillers.”

He even noticed that his cat, Bunny, who had been putting on some weight, began to slim down when he changed her diet from Purina’s Fancy Feast to From Scratch, which pleased him even more.

Azadeh and Rosenberg got into the homemade cat food business after they each, unbeknownst to the other, began making homemade meals for their cats. When the two met through work and discovered their shared hobby, they decided to build a business for cat owners wanting homemade cat food but without the labor. Then they brought Tran into the business to handle marketing and design.

Now the trio turns things like turkey thighs, rolled oats, carrots, bone meal and taurine into 4-ounce and 16-ounce jars of frozen cat food that sell for $3.75 and $15 respectively. The product can last six months in the freezer or up to 10 days in the refrigerator. And despite the challenges of marketing frozen pet food at an outdoor market, the company sells about 480 ounces of cat food each month.

Sales and customer loyalty helped From Scratch branch out of its Smorgasburg stall and onto the shelves of Williamsburg’s Urban Rustic and Gourmet Guild, two shops that sell locally sourced groceries.

“We loved their idea and felt their product philosophy matched that of our store’s,” said Jee Song, chief operating officer of Gourmet Guild. “They came in with a service our neighborhood lacked. Cats often get the short end of the stick, and no local pet stores were servicing the small niche they do.”

From Scratch hopes one day to expand its access to that niche by gracing the shelves of stores like NYCPet and Whole Foods, but for now the three owners are happy to tend their stall, work on expanding their small home-delivery service, craft their second cat food flavor (this one holiday themed) and collect and reuse their old jars from customers.

 “I’m passionate about what we’re doing,” Azadeh said. “When I get to see other people come up to the booth and they’re excited about our product too and we can share that, it’s so rewarding.”

October 18, 2012 - 5:02am


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