Anyone up for ramen and tacos? Step into the farmers market booth of Brothers & Co., a locally owned small business that uses food and art as its creative mediums. Founded by two brothers, Zachary and Seth Pacleb, Brothers & Co. started out as catering and increased to farmers markets. Since we at the IE celebrate community and support collaboration over competition, we asked the Paclebs who they’d like to give a shoutout to: Tiffany Rand (writer and chef), Adam Makkar (chef and artist), Lindsey Shepherd (head of operations), friends in their community, local farmers, family support and their entire staff.
Along with catering and private events, Brothers & Co. serves ramen and tacos at local markets: fresh ramen noodles in a rich broth and handmade wheat tortillas topped with fixings like tea smoked chicken, seasonal root vegetables on legume mash with Greek yogurt, and summer pico de gallo. Each category offers both animal (with seared chicken or pork belly) and plant (a vegan or vegetarian option with roasted summer veggies, smoked roots, or brassicas) options.
Much of the Paclebs’ cooking stems from their summers with family in Hawai’i where dishes like somen, Korean fried chicken, and spaghetti with meat sauce can be found in open markets just stalls apart. When asked why ramen and tacos, Zachary Pacleb said, “Neither ramen nor tacos are from the Philippines or Croatia but you see noodle and bread all around the world, and those two preparations were the easiest to convey to people and have been extremely versatile. We’ll make you a taco, but it’s not going to have carnitas or salsa marmalade, [instead] we marinate our chicken with Lapsang Souchong and our pork belly with a Chinese braise.”
Brothers & Co. promotes plant-based options by turning up the umami in their veggies dishes. Umami, also known as a savory taste and one of the five basic tastes in food. “It’s easy to depend on the luxury and sustenance of meat options but from a creative standpoint and a variety standpoint, it’s more difficult to hit all of those same receptors with just plant-based options, but it’s a good challenge,” says Zachary Pacleb.
Brothers & Co. also noted they wouldn’t have half the business they had without these options as well as being active about shifting people’s tastes and preferences away from a solely meat-based diet. (According to the Paclebs, many self-professed meat lovers have new plant-based favorites after eating Brother & Co. plant options.)
Brothers & Co.s’ activism is not just limited to food. Their team recently hosted Leftovers, a series of art installations focusing on the intersection of art, ‘leftover’ food, and community engagement at the Vera Project.
“As I started working in kitchens out of culinary school I would start to notice these different materials that had interesting textures and could be malleable to make something different so I started collecting things,” said Zachary Pacleb. “I would dry perishable ingredients, keep corks, egg crates. So when I started photography in high school and transitioned into painting, those paintings gained texture through different materials and shifted into full-blown sculptures.”
In addition to an artistic environment growing up, the Paclebs spent their time in two homes. One with Czech Slovakian dishes of brothy soups, steak and potatoes from their mother, and another in Hawai’i when they’d visit their Filipino father during the summers filled with chicken adobo, katsu curry, and canned green beans over panko fried pork chops. “There’s very distinct memories we have of our grandma in Hawaii and rolling lumpia. [She would] send us home with Ziploc bags of lumpia.” said Seth Pacleb.
Zachary Pacleb added, “[We’d be] walking in the kitchen and a whole group of women would introduce themselves as grandma or aunty. I remember a pig head being the in the truck of farm and my dad and all of the siblings would fight over the ears. And my grandma would walk around chewing and eyeball of the pig and walk around the house.”
Equipped with their cooking chops, artistry, activism, and community, Brothers & Co. is hoping to slowly but consistently shift consumer assumptions and further sustainable food systems. They’ve raised money to donate to DESC (Downtown Emergency Service Center) and taught at Shorewood High School’s culinary program. Brothers & Co offers private events and educational courses on plant- and animal-based cooking to individuals, companies, and organizations. “The more we can engage youth at a younger level the more and showing them it’s more than just sustenance and a huge culture behind is, you can do whatever you want within it. And planting that seed is the least we can do.” says Zachary Pacleb. “It’s everything from trying to build a plant-based environments to building a work environment, and we try to have a fun kitchen where we still work hard and being present in our community, whether it’s through food or art, and moving toward a more cohesive society and ultimately, thrive and treat each other as human beings, not just as a customer or employee.t’s a mutual exchange. Just like with our farmers on our days [at] the market we’re able to feed them throughout that day, you’ve got to have that symbiotic relationship. We thrive when we all thrive, we are not separate from those we interact with.”
Saturdays Year-round: Univerisity District Farmers Market; Sundays Year-round: Ballard Farmers Market. For more information, visit: https://www.brothersandco.me/