Both the ultimate brunchtime staple and the object of many a wayward millenial‘s desire, Bay Area dwellers are all too familiar with the ubiquitous avocado toast. But, we’ll bet that you haven’t had avocado toast quite like this.
Addictive Toast is the creation of chef and owner Andrea Neal, a Brooklyn, NY transplant with an impressive fine dining career that includes stints at Jean Georges in New York and the Michael Chiarello group of restaurants in San Francisco.
A newcomer to the Off the Grid creator community this year (and already a mainstay at Presidio Picnic), Andrea hit upon the idea for Addictive Toast while doing meal prep for celebrity clientele, who’d come clamoring back for her avocado-laden creations adorned with all manner of decadent toppings. Think honey smoked salmon, Berkshire Calabrian chili bacon and Meyer lemon (oh, and don’t forget the all-important farm-raised egg).
We checked in with Andrea — “Brooklyn”, as she’s better known in chef circles — to learn more about what she’s slinging at Presidio Picnic this season, her newfound love of the Bay Area, and what the future holds for her growing mobile food business.
Tell us about your business and how you got started in the industry.
I launched my business in April of last year and had been selling exclusively at farmers’ markets in Napa, Lake Merritt, San Rafael, and other markets in the East and North Bay until I started working with Off the Grid. But my hospitality career goes way, way back.
In between it all, I’d been doing meal prep for celebrity clientele and this was actually how the idea for Addictive Toasts came to me. A few of my clients were professional athletes, and at the time I was cooking for Giancarlo Stanton who plays for the New York Yankees. As high-performing athletes, they would often ask for carbs, so I started making them my signature toast with sea salt, olive oil, chili lime seasoning and Meyer lemon — and it was a huge hit.
Photo credit: IG @alma.e.aguilar
I decided to start my business with three toasts: my signature avocado, smoked salmon, and fromage blanc. Within a week or two of launching at the farmers’ market, it really started to take off. People were interested in what I did. I loved how creative I could be once I started to get myself out of the restaurant world. I have nine options in my menu right now, but I have ideas for more than 25 flavors in my head.
What has been the most exciting part of participating at Presidio Picnic this year?
San Francisco is sort of the mecca of the mobile food industry. I’m just excited to be a part of the movement and really get over on that side of the bridge and showcase what I’ve got.
Every one of my ingredients is sourced locally. I try to keep it organic. My avocados are from Morro Bay, California; my Meyer lemons come down from Bakersville; I use a seafood purveyor out of Sacramento; and my bread is from Acme. Anything that I can get from the farmers’ market, I will.
What items are you showcasing this season?
I have my signature, of course (with an option to add farm-raised egg), honey smoked salmon, burrata, sesame-marinated ahi tuna, garlic chili poached prawns, and BLT with Berkshire Calabrian chili bacon. My steak tartare is a special item only available on certain days.
I’m also serving iced tea freshly made by the Napa Valley Tea Lady. We have White Jasmine, White Peach, Mango, Berry and Black.
Tell us about your definition of long-term success. What’s next for you after Presidio Picnic?
When you go to San Francisco, it’s a whole different universe. What I eventually want to do is open my own avocado toast bar. With a tent, I’m a little bit limited.
To be honest, I feel like I’ve already created something that a lot of people doubted I could. People didn’t expect me to be this busy, or to still be doing what I’m doing. But I’ve had so much support from strangers and from people telling other people about my business. I feel like I can capitalize on my success, and the sky’s really the limit from there. Maybe I’ll even start a franchise — something healthy. Eventually, I want to solidify my presence in San Francisco and change the market, in a way.
What do you love most about the Bay Area? The mobile food community in particular?
What I love about the Bay Area is that it’s taught me to appreciate food more than I ever have before. Since I’ve moved back here from the East Coast, It’s made me realize that I want a farm, I want a garden. We have so much at our fingertips and we can capitalize on that.
I also love that the market is receptive to experimentation. I’m just myself, and so many people respect that. This city literally taught me how creative I can be.