Meet Your Merchant: Preparing healthy cross-cultural meals in Tahoe City
Special to the Sun
What: Uncommon Kitchen
Location: 505 West Lake Blvd., Tahoe City
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Dawn and Doug Baehr have been in the restaurant business for 19 years. In 2006, they opened Uncommon Kitchen in the back of the New Moon Natural Foods on the West Shore in Tahoe City.
The relationship between Uncommon Kitchen and New Moon is a mutually beneficial one.
“People come in to shop for health food products and buy food from the café, and vice versa,” Dawn Baehr said.
Dawn is the organizational force behind the business — she refers to herself as “the kitchen sink employee.”
“I do it all — I run the register, make sandwiches, do the dishes and make deliveries. And I also keep the books,” she said.
Meanwhile, Doug Baehr is the creative force behind Uncommon Kitchen and comes up with all the recipes it serves.
The business employs four people during the day, and four people at night, often cooking and preparing until 10 p.m.
‘WE WORK WELL TOGETHER’
The Baehrs owned Stony Ridge Cafe in Tahoma for 11 years. The restaurant was a popular breakfast place before it closed in 2005.
“It was a good run but we were ready for a change,” Dawn said.
Doug graduated from the renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., in 1989 and is a classically trained chef. He worked under Douglas Dale at Wolfdale’s for six years.
The husband-and-wife team depends on each other to make their business a success.
“We work well together,” Dawn said. “We don’t spend all our time together, and we always have lots to talk about.”
Uncommon Kitchen prepares healthy food, using organic products whenever possible and offering a variety of sandwiches, soups and salads.
“We make all our food from scratch. Nothing is processed,” Dawn said. “We offer a cross-cultural ethnic menu. We make dishes like Pad Thai, Vietnamese spring rolls, sushi and falafel.”
Dawn’s favorite item of the moment is Doug’s roasted garlic sourdough bread.
She also suggests trying the Banh Mi, a Vietnamese pork sandwich.
“Doug makes it with his own twist, adding a mushroom duxelle spread,” she says.
SPREADING THE JOY
The Baehrs distribute their products to numerous locations throughout the area, including New Moon in Truckee, Alice’s Market at Squaw, and Tahoe Central Market in Kings Beach.
Dawn delivers food every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“We are basically a ‘to go’ business,” Dawn said. “We have limited seating in our café.”
You can find Uncommon Kitchen at various event throughout the region — they were at Wanderlust and the Guitarfish music festival this summer — serving up food under a tent.
“This year we rented a U-Haul and put our fridge in the back of the truck to feed the folks at Guitarfish. It was a great event,” Dawn said with a smile.
The Baehrs also prepared picnic dinners for the Lake Tahoe Dance Festival this summer at the Gatekeepers Museum, and they cater special events as well.
NEW VENTURES ABOUND
Doug Baehr has recently expanded his cooking creativity to YouTube with a new channel offering cooking classes — “Doug Baehr’s Uncommon Kitchen.” He teaches viewers how to prepare some of his classic dishes.
Another project is “Folk Kombucha” — Flower of Life Kombucha. Kombucha is a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria and touted for its health benefits.
The product line includes jasmine-, ginger-, rhubarb and black pepper combination-, and lemongrass-flavored Kombucha.
The Baehrs attribute the success of their business to the quality of their food.
“We are successful because our food is really good,” said Dawn, who added that most items on the menu are under $10.
The Baehrs have three children — Nash, Maia and Bixby.
“Our family eats really well. We like to eat good quality food,” Dawn said.
Priya Hutner is a freelance writer and can be reached at email@example.com.