Local Business Spotlight: The Naked Pig

Photo of Naked Pig front-of-house worker, Sarahi, taking orders on a busy Sunday morning, by Charlotte Maley

Photo of Naked Pig front-of-house worker, Sarahi, taking orders on a busy Sunday morning, by Charlotte Maley

Charlotte Maley, Contributor

When you first step into The Naked Pig, you are greeted with a unique array of blues, greys, and other comforting neutrals that all contribute to a beautiful, earthy style. To your left is a giant shelf filled with jars of preservatives, handmade soaps, and chic ceramics. To your right is a small refrigerator with eggs, bone broth, and various carefully handcrafted condiments. As you walk straight ahead and up to the counter to order, you are met with carefully handwritten signs and menus, all written on reused pieces of cardboard.

The air smells like honey and bacon, and the vibes are calming, yet lively. You are overwhelmed by the delicious array of dishes offered, but settle on the seasonal waffle and artisanal frittata, as you assure yourself that you’ll be back the next day to try the rest. You order your food, and as you are shown to your table, you notice a woman in the restaurant’s kitchen delicately putting together a dish. This woman is Martinez Martinez, the creator, owner, and chef of The Naked Pig.

When I spoke with Martinez, she had just finished preserving some winter fruits, such as quinces, Santa Rosa plums, and guavas. She described it as “a labor of love,” and one of the many ways that she shares unique, pure flavors with people. “I enjoy preserving for everything that it means,” she says as she describes the sustainable nature of preserving foods when they are at their peak. She explained the intricacies of seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as the heartbreak that occurs when fresh food goes to waste.

Martinez’s interest in sustainability really began in her 20s, when she started reading a lot about politics and philosophy. A book that really inspired her was Earth Democracy by Vandana Shiva, a physicist and climate activist. Martinez described the book as having the most hopeful and beautiful messages about sustainability, and said it was what got her inspired to make a difference. She had been cooking ever since she was a child, and found joy in creating dishes for others. She wanted to do something to build a better world, and knew that by starting a business that was sustainable, but also incorporated her passions and talents, she could help.

Martinez started her career as a chef by doing various popup “guerilla” dinners in the city at the coffee shop where she worked. When she moved back to Santa Rosa, where she grew up, she opened her stand at the farmers market, where she gained appreciation for local produce. She started preserving frequently and decided to start making homemade ketchup to pair with the burgers she sold. This was what inspired her to use the land and create her own ketchup that could last her year-round.

Her passion for sourcing responsibly didn’t stop at condiments. Martinez is committed to sourcing from local farms for everything that she cooks, and has even stayed committed to some of the same family farms that she used when she started her business in 2011. She recalled a time, just a couple years ago, when she wasn’t able to have potatoes on her menu year-round because the small family farm that she sourced from, Ortiz Brothers Farm, didn’t grow enough at the time for her to use all year. They ended up expanding their crop for her. It was because of this that she is now able to offer their absolutely incredible potatoes in her dishes all year. Martinez’s goal is to make food with intention and good nutrition. She explained the importance of each role in the cycle of food: the earth, the grower, the cook, and the consumer. The care that the Ortiz Brothers Farm puts into their crop is an essential part of her business philosophy. The restaurant receives their produce from Ortiz every week in reusable crates, right out of the ground, and completely fresh.

Martinez loves her restaurant because of the human energy in every plate. The incredible value that her dishes have, because of all of the care that went into them, is truly remarkable. So much thought and love goes into just one potato, all the way from the ground up (literally). Her favorite part about her craft is when she expedites an order. When she puts on that last bit of hollandaise, or finishing of edible flowers, there is a rush of excitement as she both sees the aesthetic and feels the connection with the dish. She loves the sound of customers aahing and oohing at the food, and wants nothing more than for her customers to feel all of the good energy radiating from that dish. She knows that these customers are not only supporting her, but her employees, the farmers, and the planet.

Martinez is a truly inspirational example of taking artistic talents, passions, and education, and turning it into a fantastic contribution to a solution. She is now hiring energetic and aware people who appreciate this work and want to learn to cook. She is also interested in hosting apprentices and interns who are interested in the craft of cooking. She wants every young person to feel inspired to continue this legacy, and would love to teach people how to create what she did. If interested in working with Martinez, please email [email protected] for more information.

The farmers, Martinez, and her team work to bring customers dishes made not only with the best ingredients, but love and care to go with it. The Naked Pig is located on 5th street in Santa Rosa, and is open Friday-Sunday. They take phone, online, and in-person orders. Whether it’s for a long sit-down brunch with family, or a to-go meal for one, The Naked Pig has your back. Visit The Naked Pig this weekend, and pick up a frittata or two.

Photo by Charlotte Maley