At Three Stone Hearth, we have developed a unique business model for community-scale food preparation and processing. This worker-owned cooperative currently (as of May 2015) consists of 15 worker-owner cooperative members and 28 full and part time paid employees.
Three Stone Hearth was founded in June 2006 by a cooperative of five worker-owners: Porsche Combash, Misa Koketsu, Jessica Prentice, Catherine Spanger, and Larry Wisch, after a year of meeting and joint business planning. Our original location was at the north end of Aquatic Park in West Berkeley, where we operated from June 2006 until December 2008, when we moved to our current space on University Avenue.
Co-founder Larry Wisch passed away in May 5, 2012. The business is currently being managed by the four other worker/owners. Click here to read In Memorium: Larry Wisch.
For more information about the Worker/Owners, read on!
For information about our staff and board, click here!
About the Worker/Owners:
Porsche Combash has been in the food business for many years. Starting her career in baking with a French pastry apprenticeship, she worked in the specialty food, hospitality, and catering industries. In 1998 she helped open the Ravens Restaurant in Mendocino, which featured an organic vegetarian menu. In 2001, Porsche completed the professional Chef Training Program at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. There she was introduced to the Weston A. Price Foundation and the principles of indigenous diets. After graduation, Porsche completed a cooking internship at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland and went on to teach at the Ballymaloe School of Cookery in Ireland. She has her BA in Humanities from San Francisco State. She has traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico and Sicily to study their regional cuisines. Before starting Three Stone Hearth, she worked as the Manager of the Pasta Shop on Fourth Street in Berkeley.
Porsche’s work at Three Stone Hearth includes overseeing kitchen procedures and production, establishing new retail accounts, recipe development, taking a lead on managing our facility, and training and managing apprentices.
Born at home in Berkeley during the radical sixties, Porsche comes from a truly blended background. Her grandmother was a founding member of the Black Panthers. Her ancestry includes African-American, German, Scottish, Irish, Native-American, and English. She lives in Berkeley with her partner, Michael McGill.
Misa Koketsu‘s love of eating began early in life around the kitchen table set for her family of eight and topped with delicious meals her mother prepared daily. Her enthusiasm for cooking, however, developed during her junior year abroad in France, where she sampled and learned how to prepare traditional dishes and pastries from various regions of France.
Following graduation, Misa attended culinary school and has since baked in hotel pastry shops and bakeries in and around the Bay Area, including Auberge du Soleil and Grace Baking Company. In 1999, she began work at the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, where her background in cooking merged with the work of the Center’s Food Systems Project. This experience provided an introduction to, and gave her an appreciation for, the social, ecological, and political issues associated with local, sustainable food systems.
Misa’s work at the kitchen includes all aspects of financial management and overseeing customer accounts, including customer purchasing, refunds and deposits.
Misa is sansei or third generation Japanese American, born and raised in San Jose, California. She has a B.A. in Humanities from U.C. Berkeley. Having lived all over the East Bay since 1986, she now resides in Oakland, California.
Jessica Prentice has loved cooking for as long as she can remember. In 1996 she completed the professional Chef’s Training at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. She worked as the Chef of the Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin from 1997-2001, where she founded the Headlands Hearth Bakery and Café in 2001. Jessica educated herself in sustainable agriculture issues, and in 2002 was hired as the first Director of Education Programs for the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco.
Jessica coined the word “locavore” and co-created the Local Foods Wheels. Her first book, Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection was released from Chelsea Green Publishing in 2006.
Jessica’s work at the kitchen includes overseeing menu planning and writing, recipe development, and public relations, as well as teaching apprentice lessons and overseeing payroll.
Jessica’s ancestors include Scottish, English, and Swiss German immigrants, and she grew up in an extended community of progressives in the Washington, DC area. She earned a B.A. from Brown University in 1991, and moved to the Bay Area in 1992. In January of 2009 she gave birth to a son, and after 3 months of maternity leave, returned to Three Stone Hearth. Jessica lives in Richmond with her partner Jacob Wright and their son, Tor.
Catherine Spanger was born and raised in the East Bay. Her grandparents were farmers in Brentwood, California, where fertile land produced a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Her grandmother, an immigrant from the Dust Bowl, taught her to live modestly and be resourceful. Later travels abroad exposed her to families and cultures that shared these values, where a variety of nutrient-dense and delicious foods were produced from local ingredients.
A desire to share these life-lessons led Catherine to become a professional cook at Green’s Restaurant in San Francisco, and she has also cooked for many Bay Area catering companies. Before starting Three Stone Hearth, Catherine worked in water conservation, helping families develop an appreciation for the precious resource of water and its vital importance in producing our food.
Catherine’s work at the kitchen includes overseeing packing, delivery, product inventory, and customer service.
With a lineage from Holland, Germany and Arkansas, Catherine believes in the connection between food, family and tradition. She has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara and currently resides in Oakland, California.
About Co-Founder Larry Wisch, who passed away in May 2012:
Larry Wisch (1953-2012) was interested in ecology and community his entire life. He received a degree in Urban Human Ecology from Antioch College 1975 and a Certificate of Horticulture from The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in 1977, and began working as a horticulturalist and horticulture instructor. In 1980 he co-founded San Francisco’s first limited equity housing cooperative. From 1985 to 2004 he expressed his entrepreneurial spirit by starting and running two different market research companies: Larry Wisch Associates and Blarry House Research.
Larry grew up in the an extended community in the North Bronx The Amalgamated Cooperatives, where socialized medicine, cooperative daycare, nursery schools, and union organizing were part of his original view of the world. Chicken soup and other wonderful Jewish Eastern European smells permeated the hallways and apartments. He spent the final years of his life in Berkeley with his partner Giancarlo Calabrese.
Many thanks to Foster Wiley for our portraits and other images.