Local Vendor Spotlight: Raw Decadence
Piccolinos!, the small raw cookies from Raw Decadence, fuel your body and satisfy as a treat that won’t leave you with a sugar rush and the inevitable crash.
By Carmelo Sigona
**NOTE: Piccolinos has since changed its name to Biscolinos!
Piccolinos!. It’s a big name for a little cookie, but don’t let that fool you. These cookies, made by Fernando Chavez and Valerie Frese of Raw Decadence in Redwood City, are made with wholesome, raw ingredients and are sure to satisfy.
Valerie and Fernando developed Piccolinos! not necessarily for the benefits of “raw foods,” but for the benefit of a combination of ingredients that would give Fernando the right kind of energy to push through an afternoon in the corporate office. We’ve all reached for a candy bar, donut or sweet-something snack that provided a brief spurt of energy and satisfied our hunger, only to discover ourselves in that inevitable afternoon slump that hits after the sugar rush.
Piccolinos! can help with that!
“My career took me to Florida a few years ago where I spent a lot of the day in business meetings,” said Fernando. “Every few hours they’d roll in a cart of donuts, cookies, candy bars and soda. After a while I just couldn’t handle it” I was craving something satisfying, not something that would make me more hungry and tired in the long run.
That’s when Valerie started experimenting with dehydrating raw products, and focused on creating nutrient rich treats that are loaded with omega-3s, anti-oxidants and live enzymes but with one caveat – It had to taste really good.
Raw food literally means not cooked. The fundamental principle behind raw foodism, according to WebMD, is that plant foods in their most natural state – uncooked and unprocessed – are also wholesome for the body as some nutrients and enzymes are lost when foods are cooked.
The couple discovered that a combination of ground raw almonds, dried cranberries, organic unsweetened coconut, raw organic cacao nibs, organic agave, organic coconut oil and sea salt, set into a sort of dehydrated snack worked perfectly as Fernando’s afternoon pick-me-up.
“We didn’t set out to create something raw with the intention of promoting it as such,” said Valerie. “I had taken a few raw food classes, just out of curiosity, so with the knowledge I gained I worked out this small snack for Fernando. What’s inside is natural food that feeds the body, curbs the appetite and gives you energy.”
From Florida to the shelves at Sigona’s
Valerie and Fernando, both Redwood City natives, returned two years ago from Florida. Valerie, who restarted her drapery business, began sending out the raw cookies as client gifts.
“Over time I started getting more calls for the cookies than draperies,” said Valerie.
With encouragement from friends and family, the couple started experimenting with more flavors, shapes and sizes to do some market testing and research.
Valerie tried many different shapes – round, triangle, square, etc. They didn’t want to offer a typical cookie shape or something rectangular that would automatically associate it with a health or nutrition bar. The winning form was a sort of biscotti shape; a unique design that allows for three cookies in one attractive and conventionally designed package.
The name “Piccolinos!” sprouted during in an over-dinner brainstorm with friends where they discussed names and meanings sourced from other languages such as French and Italian.
“Our friend Bernard Chouet suddenly threw out Piccolinos,” said Fernando. “Picco in Latin is “small” as related to in context of the language. It was the perfect fit and we loved it.
“After that everything started coming together very quickly and felt right. We even found an available commercial kitchen 1.3 miles from house,” continued Fernando. “We launched Raw Decadence in October 2009 and formally started producing product for retail sales in early 2010.”
Many of the ingredients they use are sourced as locally as possible, and some they purchase from Sigona’s. They are meticulous about ingredients, not only in the source but in understanding the products. For example, they use unsweetened coconut and coconut oil as they help curb the appetite and are good for heart and arteries. They also pay very close attention to their agave, only using 100% certified organic agave directly from the source so they know it hasn’t been cut or corrupted.
There is a big movement now for alternative snacks, treats and foods that fuel the body and provide that long-lasting energy. Piccolinos!, which are also gluten free, are just that and more!
These satisfying treats have a fresh, clean and powerful taste that’s not over done. Fernando notes that he doesn’t like foods that are too sweet or too salty so they’ve strived to present balanced flavors. While they’re great simply right out of the package, the couple also suggests dicing up a few to eat with yogurt or serve them alongside your afternoon tea or coffee.
Piccolinos! have only been on our shelves just a few months, but already have a large fan base. We’ve heard from customers who keep them in their purse, glove box or lunch box for when they need a pick-me-up, and our marketing manager keeps a stash (of the apricot & cacao nibs) in her desk for an afternoon snack!
Look for them near the registers at both stores and don’t forget your coupon next week so you can try a few on us.
CLICK HERE FOR THE COUPON