As Minnie Luong tells it, “You can see the whole history of the world in a jar of kimchi.”
You can also see Luong’s history.
In 2015, working as a chef for a Los Angeles tech company, Luong decided to trade cooking for fermenting.
That year, she and husband Tim Greenwald, who worked for a software company, quit their jobs and started packing jars of the classic dish — which actually originated in the Western hemisphere before making its way to Korea through trade — of fermented cabbage infused with garlic, ginger and red pepper.
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Today, Greenwald and Luong, who styles herself CHI-EO of Chi Kitchen, are offering a smorgasbord of tart vegetables seasoned and packaged in Pawtucket’s Lorraine Mills, which will be putting on its second Lorraine Mills Fest on Sept. 9 and 10.
The space, once home to a textile manufacturer, is now home to creative minds and their kitchens.
Luong speculates it is also home to spirits of the mills’ departed workers, though it’s conceivable the cavernous factory-like space gives way to suspicion when night falls.
In a massive walk-in fridge, Luong stores boxes of napa cabbage and an archive of every product she’s ever created, such as a brightly-colored slaw made with fermented purple cabbage, sesame seeds and a touch of wasabi. This writer scarfed down half a jar of the stuff in less than a day. It’s no surprise the slaw took home the gold this year as a Specialty Food Association sofi award winner in the highly competitive pickles and olives category.
Chi Kitchen will be around on the festival’s second day, offering free samples of probiotic-packed kimchi juice, or gut shots, as Luong calls them.
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And other options
If a different sort of fermentation is what you’re seeking, White Dog Distilling is serving up its “drunken pumpkin,” a cocktail of homemade pumpkin butter, oat milk and moonshine.
Husband and wife duo Alecia and Carlo Catucci lead the business, which they dreamt up after a date of bar hopping in 2016.
By 2018, they opened a 300-square-foot bar that seated four, eventually moving into their more spacious spot in the mill. That’s where they offer their signature “puppy bourbon,” a young spirit aged five months in five-gallon barrels, in keeping with the months-per-gallon rule, but smooth enough to sip.
To go with a drink or two, Just Like Nana’s owner Karen Griffin will open her food truck and offer savory options, such as a cheddar herb scone with turkey and cream cheese, or a sourdough waffle grilled cheese with potato crisps. Griffin will have sweet stuff, too, like her classic rugelach made her grandmother’s way.
Another option on wheels? Ja Patty, which will roll out its food truck hawking handmade coconut curry-filled patties, and rice bowls topped with jerk chicken and Jamaican slaw.
Travel-averse Rhode Islanders take note: For a taste of the globe, turns out you can skip the Amtrak to a nearby metropolis, and instead drive to Pawtucket.
Lorraine Mills Fest at 560 Mineral Spring Ave. in Pawtucket takes place on Friday, Sept. 9, from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 10, from 1 to 5 p.m.
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