Global Street Food: Deep Roots Style
BY GENA GOLAS | WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTOS
A year ago at Christmas, Eliza Florian was gifted a home DNA test, the kind where you submit a sample by mail and eventually get ancestry results. Little did she know that DNA test would reveal not only her past, but also her future.
Also a year ago, Eliza found herself at a crossroads. The barbershop that shared the building with her business, Grassroots Ice Cream, was relocating, leaving a vacancy— and an opportunity. Eliza’s popular ice cream shop had long outgrown its 600-square-foot space on the Granby town green, which included a basement creamery where every three-gallon tub of ice cream had to be hand-carried up the worn, narrow, wooden steps to the shop above. The newly vacant adjacent storefront was the perfect opportunity to move the creamery—finally— upstairs, but Eliza envisioned more in that space. Fueled by the results of that DNA test, and an ancestry with ties to Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, and Africa, Eliza imagined a restaurant that would combine cuisines from each of those countries and more. So, without a clear menu, or a chef, Eliza and her husband got to work on the build-out of the space, deciding to figure out the rest out as they went.
While operating a restaurant might have been foreign to Eliza, business ownership was not, and neither was cooking international cuisine. “Cooking can give you pops of culture you can participate in without traveling,” says Eliza. Ever since her kids were young, Eliza found ways to travel with her family through food. Together they would seek out the most authentic foreign cuisine in their area, and then take those ideas home to recreate them in their own kitchen. Back then, those dishes might not have been professionally presented to her family, but the flavors were spot-on. The DNA test results, Eliza remembers, were the turning point for her when planning out her new venture: “I want to celebrate what cultures have brought to our country, and have it understood better. People relate to a culture through food.” Thus, the aptly named Deep Roots Street Food was born.
Deep Roots is cozy, relaxed, and friendly."
With so much global cuisine to draw inspiration from, Chef Sturtevantd has, quite literally, the world at his fingertips, all the while rooted in culture and tradition.”
The decision to serve street food meant that Eliza could recreate other countries’ everyday cuisine, Deep Roots style. Some menu favorites include the Turkish Berliner, a German Doner kebab-turned-sandwich, with tender beef and lamb, creamy tzatziki, crisp vegetables, and a Turkish feta dressing; the Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwich on a handmade bun, with fragrant lemongrass beef, crunchy vegetables, spicy jalapeno, and sweet chili vinegar dressing; and the showstopper Hairdresser Salad, brought to the Netherlands by Turkish immigrants—a big bowl of minced beef and lamb, French fries, lettuce, feta cheese, tomato, carrot, green pepper, cucumber, olives, pepperoncini, tzatziki, crispy chickpeas, pita bread, falafel, and hummus.
The menu may reflect Eliza’s roots, but the “Ever-Evolving Menu” leaves room for creativity by head chef Hazen Sturtevant. Grilled cheese is on the menu, but you never know what you might find between the bread along with the chef-selected melted cheese. Same goes for the Street Dog, a quarter-pound Angus hot dog that can be topped with anything from sauerkraut, to secret sauce, to housemade chili.
A menu that may change daily or, sometimes, more than once in a day, mirrors the spirit of adjacent Grassroots Ice Cream. Grassroots is known for its small batch flavors, and its ability “to do anything.” On a busy summer day, the shop will flip its flavor tags eight or nine times, creating a sense of urgency and excitement among its patrons. Some customers call every single day to check if their favorite flavor is back in stock, and the community has taken matters into their own hands, posting in the Granby town Facebook group to notify their fellow neighbors of the current menu as they stand in line. Extending that same excitement to the menu at Deep Roots keeps the cuisine fresh and seasonal.
A menu that may change daily or, sometimes, more than once in a day, mirrors the spirit of adjacent Grassroots Ice Cream.”
People relate to a culture through food.”
Deep Roots operates as a fast casual restaurant, in a style made popular recently out in California. Deep Roots is cozy, relaxed, and friendly. Patrons order at the front counter, and the staff will bring your order, check on you throughout your meal, and clear the tables at the end of your meal. Eliza aims to show “how quick service can be a pleasant experience.” She remembers a time when “you knew your shop owners” and hopes to create the same relationships with her customers at Deep Roots as she has at Grassroots Ice Cream.
Grassroots Ice Cream has made a name for itself, providing delicious, hand-made ice cream with an element of surprise. Deep Roots Street Food, although open only for a few weeks at the time of this writing, seems set to do the same. Eliza says, “I don’t like to micromanage, as long as it keeps the standard of deliciousness.” With so much global cuisine to draw inspiration from, Chef Sturtevant has, quite literally, the world at his fingertips, all the while rooted in culture and tradition.