By the end of April, Olivier Griss knew he had a problem. Coke Farm, the San Juan Bautista, Calif. business his stepfather started in 1981 where Griss now works as sales manager, was awash in a leafy salad ingredient: chicory. Specifically, treviso and castelfranco varieties that end up on plates in high-end restaurants. But high-end restaurants were largely closed, due to the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the world.
“We held onto it for as long as we could,” Griss says, trying to find a buyer. When it was no longer fit for market, workers tilled it into the ground, along with tiny artichokes also popular with discerning chefs. “It hurt.”