Best of Denver award-winner Denver Seitan Company has been mysteriously absent as of late: no presence at this past Sunday's Neat Market, no Denver Seitan pizza at the Marquis -- and we just found out why: The health department embargoed and confiscated all DSC wheat meat due to permitting issues. But it's a good thing -- really!
While they were shopping their tasty, tasty goods, the Denver Seitan Dudes (aka Tim Brauhn, Joshua LaBure and Mark Mann) were slowly getting their permitting in order. Too slowly, it turns out. About three weeks ago, Denver's health department caught wind of their activities.
"We knew we were operating not 100 percent the way we ought to," explains head seitan chef Brauhn, "and it was one of those, 'We've got to get that taken care of at some point.' But Denver didn't know who we were, and because we cook it in Jefferson County, they were really confused, and because we're a vegetarian meat product made with a steamed grain, they were really, really, really confused. They thought we were bigger than we actually are. But once we got down to the brass tacks of what paperwork we had to file, the departments were really cool."
And, of course, matters were complicated by the fact that none of the Denver Seitan Dudes does seitan full-time; they're all occupied elsewhere during various hours of the day. "Josh has Nooch going on now, which is very busy," Brauhn notes. "Mark runs Huckleberry Roasters Coffee, and he also does web design on the side, so he's got quite a bit going on, and my full-time gig is the director of operations for the 1010 project. So that's my nine-to-five -- or, in my case, seven-to-three -- and we try to do the wheat meat stuff in between.
"So it was maddening to be in my office having to take time away from my regular job to take these phone calls from the health department -- and they were really, really nice, but they have rules, which make sense."
All that said: DSC is now back and bringing with it new labeling that includes ingredients and more required information. "We want to move away from the string, try to keep rustic packaging, but have a really clean and interesting label -- while still having all the information we need on the labels," Brauhn says. "Now that we're legal, we're also going to be a bit more aggressive about landing large accounts in restaurants and things like that. Our growth has been all organic, and we don't advertise it. Now I think we're going to go out and grab proper wholesale accounts.
"And we're also working on new flavors," he adds. "Probably one of the strangest things we're working on is sliders."
Look for Denver Seitan at next month's Neat Market, but if you can't stand to wait that long, visit www.denverseitan.com to place your order.
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