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Meet the Merchant: Erica's Kitchen Brings 'Clean' Food, Setting for the Soul

Cafe offers eat-in meals, or grub to-go, with lots of raw, vegan, gluten-free options.

Erica Wallace is living her dream. 

A decade ago, she was working in the pharmaceutical field, using the business degree she earned—a route that seemed to make sense for someone who grew up in a family full of entrepreneurs.

"I was always surrounded by food as a child," Wallace said. "I thought I had to go to school for business."

Fast forward to today, and she spends her days running Erica's Kitchen, the Bedford Village eatery she describes as a "market cafe."

Thanks to a lot of encouragement from family, namely the man who is now her husband, Wallace decided to pursue her passion of "nurturing people through food." The Somers resident—who cried the first time she visited a farmers market at Union Square in Manhattan—enrolled at the French Culinary Institute, and graduated in 2005, just a week before her wedding.

When she returned from her honeymoon, she began cooking meals for friends. That evolved into a home-based catering business of sorts. Eventually, she had so many clients that she needed to use a relative's restaurant to prepare all the orders.

The space in Bedford Village was one Wallace always loved, so when it became available, everything else just fell into place. She opened the eatery in January 2011, and her focus on farm-to-table products hasn't wavered.

"You don't know what is in your food, and that's really scary," she said, adding that she knows "so many great farmers" who provide the local, sustainable food.

These days, she works in an apron, perfecting stews and braises that "take a lot of time, a lot of love" on the stove; tracking down local, organic food; and chatting with customers—many of whom started with her when she was operating the catering business.

They flow in and out of the bright, spacious shop, which offers casual seating: patio and wood furniture. There's a produce section, along with a bookcase, a jewelry display and more. One of the four walls is home to an array of prints that are for sale. 

"There's spirituality mixed in with the food," Wallace said with a smile.

Lisa Buchman January 29, 2013 at 05:17 PM
And from our Facebook page, Kelly Ann Keskes Goodman says: "By far the BEST egg sandwich around!!"
Sara Weale January 29, 2013 at 05:19 PM
Erica's Kitchen is wonderful!! Her egg salad sandwich is the best (and healthiest/cleanest) that I have ever had!
Bonni Brodnick January 29, 2013 at 10:05 PM
I love going to Erica’s Kitchen for the warm ambiance, excellent food and terrific representation of local farmers, writers and artisans. Erica’s generosity of spirit truly comes through with everything she does.
Ashley Tarr January 29, 2013 at 10:06 PM
I wasn't able to grab anything to eat when I stopped in to speak with Erica, but I'm definitely looking forward to doing so soon! The egg salad sounds delicious. I'm going to pick a day when I can sit and eat in. Atmosphere there is very different—loved all the mantras hanging on the wall (I've uploaded a few in the photos section above.). Has anyone been to one of the "mindful eating meditation" sessions at the cafe? They sound so interesting. Also, regulars will be pleased to know that a coffee/tea nook area is in the works!
Deb January 30, 2013 at 02:49 AM
Erica is amazing. We're so fortunate to have her cook for us! I'm a local farmer and it's always a joy to deliver my produce to her; no one else is as excited to have it as she is. I know that she will elevate the stuff I grow with the love she brings to everything she does.

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