Finding healthy and delicious food in Chicago isn’t as easy as our big city counterparts like New York or LA. Thankfully as the wellness community has started to grow here, so have our nutritious food options (slowly, but surely!) What happens to be one of the newest (and one of our favorites) in that category is FARE. If you’re up to speed on the local food hall scene you’re likely familiar with FARE. Whether it’s your go-to lunch spot or you’ve never heard of it, you’re going to want to keep reading.
Creating “food with purpose,” FARE is known for their create-your-own bowls. The feature tasty greens or ancient grains as a base with several veg options (the tumeric pickled cauliflower + carrots is a highlight!) and proteins to add (everything from sustainable salmon and ground turkey to a veggie patty) topped with a variety of sauces to match your taste buds. We realize we may sound like a walking ad for FARE but that’s because we’re genuinely excited to have an option like this here in Chicago. And as an added bonus, both locations (in Wells Street Market and the new Time Out Chicago Market) are close to both TSB studios. So next time you’re flowing with us in River North or at The Hoxton, be sure to swing by FARE afterwards!
So now that we have your mouth watering for some delicious fare (get it?), we wanted to get to know one of the co-founders — Britni deLeon.
How did the idea for FARE come to life?
Kasia [my business partner] and I met working for the Gibsons Restaurant Group. We were in the sales office everyday and always brought very similar looking lunches; usually roasted vegetables with a delicious sauce and some baked good or superfood energy ball or bar we had made. We were frustrated by the lack of quick healthy lunch options so decided to do something about it 🙂
What does food mean to you?
Food is our love language. Preparing and sharing a meal is how we express gratitude to those we love. Food is not only nourishment for our bodies (which is why we only use the cleanest ingredients) but also for our souls. Food is how we experience a new city or country, and how we recall memories from our travels, food is nostalgic, food is joy.
Do you cook? If so, what is your favorite thing to make?
We are literally never not cooking. We make mostly vegetables, in every way you can imagine; grilled, shaved, roasted, marinated, confit, stewed, sautéed you name it we’ve tried it. We are currently really into braising big fat beans in good olive oil, garlic, and herbs and serving over a hunk of sourdough with a nice crisp salad of shaved fennel and onions. So comforting and delicious.
When it comes to food, what’s your holiday tradition with your family?
Britni – every year all the ladies in our family get together a few days before Christmas and spend the day baking. We make dozens of cookies from recipes passed down from generations and some new ones we’ve picked up along the way. We pack boxes of assorted cookies and share them with friends, neighbors, colleagues and of course save a few for ourselves 🙂
Kasia – we start our Christmas Eve meal with borscht soup and homemade mushroom pierogi. My mom and I make the pierogi the day before and my dad makes the soup. It has been this was for as long as I can remember and is one of my favorite parts of the holidays.
Speaking of the holidays, is there anything special we can expect from FARE this holiday season?
We are excited to be a part the BIDE Holiday Market on December 15th at Exchange 312. Bide Market is Chicago’s first fully sustainable, plastic-free, vegan, and cruelty-free shopping experience and we will be serving up our version of a grown-up (vegan) lunchable. Grain salad, beet hummus, seeded crackers and our vegan / gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.
What are some sustainability practices you follow (either personally or with your business) when it comes to food?
At FARE 90% of our packaging is compostable. We work closely with our vendors to source local produce when we can, cutting down on the distance our food has to travel to get to us. We use every part of each vegetable that we can (i.e. saving stems from herbs and butts of onions and carrots for broth). Kasia and I practice these exact same things at home and try to keep our kitchens as wast free as possible.
With your presence in two food halls now, what are your thoughts on the booming food hall scene in Chicago?
The reinvention of the “food court” was long overdue and we think a food hall has been the perfect setting for our first couple of locations. Being a new, unknown brand / concept we find that being in the company of so many established Chicago restaurants has really given us a much further reach. Beyond that, we are so grateful for the support of the other concessionaires at Wells Street Market and Time Out and feel lucky to now call many of them friends. It’s been wonderful being part of a community with so many passionate fellow restauranteurs.
What are your thoughts on Chicago’s overall food scene when it comes to health and wellness?
We believe Chicago is one of the greatest food cities in the world, but we tend to be a little late to the game when we’re talking about wellness-focused food. The demand is there and restaurants are starting to catch on. There are a lot more options than there were 5 years ago but there is room for so much more.
What’s next for FARE?
We have big plans for growth in the next 5 years. We know that in order to do that successfully we have to have a strong, passionate team around us that believes in our mission and the food that we serve. We are currently working hard on finding and training the right people to help us reach that goal. We have a few exciting things in the works that we can’t share quite yet, but what we can tell you is FARE’s first stand-alone storefront will open this spring (2020)!! There we will have the space to expand our catering program, which is rapidly growing, and will also be the model for many FARE’s to come!
With our sustainability features still fresh in our minds, we are thrilled to hear about FARE’s sustainability practices (especially the fact that they’ll be at BIDE Market this month!) We featured BIDE founder Parisa Morris a few months back…and we can’t wait to shop chic eco-friendly finds while noshing on some tasty FARE at the next BIDE Market.