Pamela Fabrega was a Californian latch-key kid – home alone after school, she’d entertain herself in the kitchen. With guidance from her mother’s cookbooks, she took on rich brioche and egg-battered french toast in grade school. The words “challenging” or “age-appropriate” didn’t apply. Baking knew no bounds.
Fast forward to Portland, Oregon, where Pamela is surrounded by like-minded, daring food-lovers (and granola, in many senses of the word). Watching the local DIY food scene for more than 13 years reinforced her belief in experimentation, and coloring outside the lines. With that, she dreamed up a brighter future for rolled oats.
Her mission at the Blackbird Food Co. is simple: “To elevate granola to its rightful place as an amazing food product.” With intriguing flavor combinations rooted in good-for-you “super foods,” oats are no longer banished to the breakfast bowl.
These granolas are made in small batches (think 8-10 bags!) for sharper taste control. Pamela does everything herself, by hand – attaching hand-drawn labels to gorgeous coffee-style bags, filling them, and sealing them. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. “The hard part comes with sourcing ingredients and testing recipes until I have a granola that jumps on my palate, and is markedly better than what I can find anywhere else.”
It’s this pursuit of the next level, of perfection in flavor without sacrificing quality, that makes Blackbird granolas so hard to forget.
On Portland’s un-snobby chefs:
The most known chef in Portland will be so down-to-earth and humble when speaking with you because the thing that excites them the most is food. … They also tend to be highly creative, passionate people who live on the edge and have heaps of joie de vivre and energy.
My 10 year old son suggested it! I have really black hair and people have, at various times in my life since college, called me a “blackbird.” And when I think of those birds, I think of how they scavenge around looking for seeds, nuts and berries for sustenance.
Why is this your dream job?
I love coming up with unusual flavor combinations. I also find baking very meditative and satisfying.
The Granola Grind
My biggest challenge is getting over people’s perception of granola as “boring.” Once I can get them to taste our granola, the battle is 90% won.