Osteria del Circo. Le Cirque. Kombucha? ICE Chef Instructor Mike Schwartz has worked in some of the nation’s top restaurants, but now the seasoned chef is turning to a new passion – an organic beverage that’s good for you and for the environment.
“All organic products have a fluffy connotation, they’re earthy and hippy,” said Chef Mike. “But it’s not that easy to be organic and environmentally friendly. It takes a bold person to commit to living a healthy life. It takes a passionate person – it takes a bad-ass.”
Welcome to the world of Bad Ass Organics (BAO). Chef Mike and his business partner put their individual specialties to use to develop BAO Fresh Kombucha, a tea that’s low in sugar and made through the natural fermentation of the kombucha probiotic.
“We started with the idea of how to make healthy soda,” Chef Mike said. Ideas turned into a reality, as months of planning and testing led to a line of three different kombucha products. Specialty brewers and bottlers handle the production of the berry, ginger and original-flavored drinks, which are produced in the company’s Hell’s Kitchen facility. The production of fresh kombucha, which Chef Mike describes as having a sweet and tarty taste, is grounded in the cultivation of living bacteria.
“You start by brewing a sweet tea,” said Chef Mike. “From there, we add a starter culture and then let the liquid sit at a specific temperature until it reaches the right acidity level.”
But BAO is doing more than contributing a healthy alternative to the high-calorie and sugar-loaded soda market. The company prides itself on a community-focused business model, which includes donating a portion of their profits to Heifer International, an organization that aims to help end world hunger and poverty through self-reliance and sustainability.
“Our goal is to help people,” Chef Mike said. “Not only does BAO bring a healthy, functional beverage to New Yorkers, but we’re also hoping to it will provide jobs in our local facility.”
A top chef and entrepreneur, Chef Mike has successfully added the title of organic beverage supplier to his list of many talents. BAO was first sold in New York’s Clinton Gourmet Market and can now be found in a range of cafes, groceries and spas across the city.