Meet our new favorite cracker
Here at 150ish, it’s no secret that we love to snack. So we’re thrilled when we find something that’s crunchy and delicious—and good for us, too. Leave it to a mom (who also happens to be an architect) to develop a line of crackers that both adults and her gluten- and soy-allergic son would enjoy. Tina Diep based her Hungry Bird Eats line on the rye breads she grew up eating in Denmark—and we can’t get enough.
Here’s the dish. If it hadn’t been for an internship in architecture here in the States, Tina Diep’s life might have taken an entirely different course. Born in Denmark, the child of Vietnamese refugees, Tina was interning here for six months while in school. “I was here with a friend—all we did was work, there was nothing else to do. Finally, one Saturdaynight we went to a bar and we ran into Joel and his roommate,” she remembers, speaking of her now-husband, Joel Rogers, a civil engineer. “We ended up talking all night. He invited me out on a date and we’ve been together now for about 13 years. We dated long distance for two years after I returned to Denmark to finish school, and then I moved here for him.”
Joel’s importance to Tina isn’t just a matter of geography. “He has been so patient and supportive of me trying to figure out my path,” she says. Although she worked as an architect for many years, the profession didn’t offer Tina the creative outlet she craved. “I spent a long time figuring out what I wanted to do. I’m very creative, so I started making furniture and lamps, and that wasn’t it, and then I started designing jewelry, and that wasn’t it either.”
She also loved to cook and, when everyone started asking for her recipes, Joel suggested that she start a blog. Although she had a lot of fun developing Dieplicious.com, she didn’t see it as a full-time career.
“It’s hard to be a blogger in the world, but I thought it might lead to something,” Tina says. “I wanted to make my own food product and one day it just hit me that these crackers would be it. It’s the one thing that everybody loves and everybody has been requesting and it became obvious to me that this was what I wanted to do.”
The crackers were developed in part to provide her young son Ike with a healthy snack option that was soy- and nut-free. The flavor inspiration was the traditional knækbrød—a rye-based cracker with seeds—that is omnipresent in Denmark. “Everybody in Denmark eats rye bread,” she laughs. “Every kid eats rye bread with something on it for lunch every day.” After a lot of experimentation, Tina found the right mix of organic rye flour and olive oil, with added flax, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, and chia seeds, rolled oats, and a touch of sea salt. A second recipe substitutes organic brown rice flour for the rye, and adds a bit of oregano to the mix.
150ish thought this quintessentially Italian herb was an unusual choice for a Nordic cracker, but Tina told us, “I know that oregano has a lot of health benefits. I didn’t even think about how it would taste, I just wanted to use oregano to get the most nutritional benefit into the crackers. I didn’t see a lot of oregano crackers out there, but it works very well.”
Tina’s being modest—these crackers are deliciously addictive and it’s easy to eat a whole bag. Most crisp breads are dry and very neutral in flavor, but Hungry Bird Eats—in either flavor—are rich, flavorful, and very satisfying.
Having tested her recipes to great success with friends and neighbors (not to mention Ike and all his friends), Tina joined incubator Brooklyn Foodworks and launched her line in January of this year. Already available in a number of stores across the city, she’s now thinking about the best ways to expand.
“It’s a difficult balance,” she says. “I want to be in more stores, but at the same time I want to have more flavors. Because I’m so creative, sometimes I have to stop myself—I really need to concentrate on doing certain things first and make sure that people really want to buy these things before I add more flavors—maybe something sweeter, maybe something more savory.” Whatever the new flavors are, it’s for sure they will all be subject to approval by Ike. “He’s my number one taste tester,” Tina confirms. “There’s always a bag of Hungry Bird in his diaper bag.”
Interview by 150ish
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