Lola’s Local Food Lab

By Andrea Pyenson / Photography By Andrea Pyenson | September 01, 2015
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Drinking Vinegars
Kim Shkapich makes her wildly popular shrubs, or drinking vinegars, in enticing flavors like cucumber dill, blueberry basil, wild beach plum and apple vanilla using local ingredients.

Beneath the Lighthouse Restaurant in Wellfleet, New York transplant Kim Shkapich has been creating and selling wildly flavorful shrubs and rubs in her tiny but bright Lola’s Local Food Lab. This summer, at the request of Lighthouse owner Joe Wanco, she resurrected the eatery’s iconic blueberry muffins, which are a perfect companion to her astoundingly good cold brew iced coffee. She also installed a fountain to make fresh sodas.

There is not really a Lola, and the lab is in fact a kitchen, but the image on Shkapich’s retro labels is her mother, Betty, who taught her canning and preservation when she was growing up in Chicago. The architect-turned-food entrepreneur says she chose the business’ name because she liked the alliteration and because, “I’m interested in the chemistry of food.”

“My relationship to creating a food business here started rather organically,” Shkapich explains. Noting that there is not ready access to communal kitchens for budding food entrepreneurs on the Cape—something she is trying to change through work with the Cape Cod Culinary Incubator—she began by making jellies and jams in 2011, renting kitchen space in Wellfleet Preservation Hall.

Kim Shkapich

“I had done canning my whole life,” she says, adding that preserves are a good entry point to the business because there are not a lot of regulations involved with making and selling them. She brought her first items to the Wellfleet Farmers’ Market and some holiday bazaars, using them to test products and see customers’ reactions.

From preserves Shkapich moved on to shrubs, or drinking vinegars, which her mother used to make. In colonial America, shrubs were sweet, vinegar-based drinks that were sometimes mixed with alcohol. In 17th- and 18th-century England, they were made with rum or brandy. Today they are equally appropriate mixed into seltzer or club soda, cocktails or salad dressings. Shkapich says, “They’re fun to make; they’re fun for people to play with in the kitchen.”

The Outer Cape entrepreneur uses local produce for her shrubs, which are available in enticing flavors like cucumber dill, blueberry basil, wild beach plum and golden beet. “It’s more expensive,” she says, referring to using local ingredients, “[but] the products I make reflect the seasonality.”

Shkapich also uses local ingredients, some from her own garden, in her rubs. She makes these in small batches, grinding them herself so they are fresh. “I have so many ideas,” she says of these spice blends, which work as dry rubs, can be mixed with liquid to form a paste, or are great to shake onto fresh vegetables or snacks. Their use is as varied as their creator’s flavor combinations.

In mid-September, Shkapich will scale back from summer to winter hours in the shop (Thursday–Sunday, 8 am-6 pm) and add pre-ordered prepared foods to her offerings. Customers can order them on her website or check Facebook to see what’s cooking.

- Andrea Pyenson

Lola’s Local Food Lab
317B Main Street
Wellfleet
508-349-1700 /
lolaslocalfoodlab.com

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