Francesca Weikert
In Season Wood Fired Pizza & Sourdough

Francesca Weikert

In Season Wood Fired Pizza & Sourdough

Franny runs In Season Wood Fired Pizza & Sourdough alongside her partner, Blaine. In Season provides sourdough bread products, wood fired pizzas and other high quality, organic and locally sourced nourishment to weddings, events and gatherings under the Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Teton Valley, Idaho.

In between a lot of rushed "hellos" and coffee for pizza trades, early mornings all setting up -- I got to know Franny and Blaine during a summer of farmers markets. They run In Season and make some of the most incredible pizza and bread I've ever had, something which comes from sourcing their ingredients locally and the love they put into their craft.

The markets were over when I sat down to interview and photograph Franny. It was a warm fall afternoon, we exchanged hugs and she showed me around their bakery. Last year, Franny and Blaine converted their garage into an industrial bakery, which on this particular day allowed Blaine to be making dough with the garage doors wide open, letting the crisp breeze and evening sun pour in. Franny has an incredible passion for nurturing her communities; both Teton Valley and Jackson. That passion goes beyond food - she talks about how important it is to support local businesses, what food shares she loves being part of and how inspired she is by her friends and communities.

Q: How did you get started? What was your journey and how did all of this come to be?

Franny: I grew up in just south of Munich,Germany.  Localized food systems, knowing your farmers, and gathering around the table are some of the main pillars of my culture and upbringing. In a post world war two environment, my grandparents cherish food as a way to show love, and celebrate abundance & security.  A typical meal prep for my family includes biking to the butcher’s shop, the bakery,  and the vegetable and egg farmers to buy ingredients. Growing up, I watched farmers move the cows into the Alps during the summer and then bring them home before winter. The towns gather and celebrate the return of the cows each Fall. Our culture is still grounded in ceremony, dance and appreciation of natural resources. It’s not ‘hippie’ or ‘alternative’ to have a home apothecary and know how to naturally heal your family. It’s normal. The doctor prescribes elderberry syrup instead of antibiotics for a cold. 

When I moved to Jackson in high school, I felt disconnected from my food which really influenced my wellbeing.. My body rejected the American bread products which were not prepared and fermented the way I was used to. Bread really is the foundation of our food culture. Since Southern Germany is landlocked and mountainous, our cuisine is traditionally carb heavy. We love dumplings, spaetzle, pastries and bread.  

After high school, I moved to Bellingham, WA for university. I studied sustainable entrepreneurship. I loved the vibrant ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest and started to work on farms, forage for mushrooms, and visit the weekly farmer’s market. One summer, I came back to Jackson and met Blaine. Not to sound super cheesy but it really was love at first sight for me. I was mesmerized by his passion for food and zest for life and adventure. Blaine grew up in Jackson. His Dad is the Chef at Teton Pines, his mom the Food & Beverage Director and his Brother Josh a fisherman. Their whole family values food so much. Before we met Blaine attended culinary school in Tahoe, did a baking internship in San Francisco and worked in the bakery at Persephone. He reintroduced bread into my life which helped me connect to my roots. We lived in Washington until I finished college and then moved back to Jackson. After graduation, we went  on a two week mountain bike crossing of the Alps through Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. The sustainable hut system and concept of eating close to home inspired us to build our life based on our shared values of local food, commitment to earth and community building. It was on the deck of a mountain hut in Austria, that we doodled the In Season logo and name. Unsure of what it would evolve into, a shared brand was created. 

In Season officially began when Blaine broke his tibia skiing a few winters ago. He baked his way out of the typical depression that accompanies injury and started selling his loaves to his friends on Instagram. I  was in Nepal supporting the production of ‘Moksha’, a film about female Nepali mountain bike guides. When I got back we realized how stoked our friends were about the bread and that there is no organic sourdough in town. This could be our way to contribute to the local food economy. Blaine taught me how to assist a 100 loaf bake and we signed up for the People’s Market. I guess it kind of took off from there. 

Q: There's so much work behind the scenes that goes into running a business. Talk to me about what your average day or average week looks like.

Franny: The summer months are heavily focused on preparation, creation, and execution. We attend local markets and contribute to private events, weddings and community gatherings. All of our products are sourdough, so we're constantly feeding the starter, fermenting the dough and baking. Although sourdough takes more time, we are committed to the health benefits. It’s easily digestible, serves as a prebiotic, is nutrient dense and flavorful, and it connects us to the most ancient way of crafting and consuming bread. 

It’s incredible to work with the different Teton Valley farmers & producers to learn about what is in season and to purchase our ingredients. The slow food community is so strong here. We love having the opportunity to contribute to our local food economy and create with the highest quality product.

Besides sourcing, baking, attending markets and contributing to events, there is the communication aspect. I spend quite a bit of time communicating with bread share members and catering clients. It’s fun to cocreate with our clients and bring a culinary vision to life that both sides stand behind. 

It's really important to balance the workload with activities that fulfill us on a personal level. I am committed to integrating self-care and play into each day so that I can show up as my most authentic self. Mountain biking, yoga, quality time with our dog, adventuring with Blaine and our friends and cooking for ourselves keeps me really fulfilled and happy while nourishing other people. Come fall and winter, we slow down and spend time connecting with our community, finishing up our accounting, testing recipes and marketing/planning/strategizing for the next calendar year.

There is a lot of variety in our business. It’s creative and I love it!

Q: You run your business with your partner. Have there been any big realizations about ways you work really well together or boundaries that you need to actively set?

Franny: I adore and respect Blaine a lot. He is fun to be around and very lighthearted. He is incredibly talented at crafting with his hands and finding flow in life whether on skis or in the bakery. Although I am also creative, I am a bit more analytical and love manifesting, connecting people & visions,  planning and logistics. Our skills are different but very aligned which makes running a business together really fun. We both believe in our mission and are grounded independently which allows us to collaborate while staying true to ourselves.  

I would say that when you work together all your insecurities, fears and shadow sides get brought out on the table. In part because you spend a lot of time together, but also because you start dealing with elevated responsibilities in regards to finances, timelines and potentially stressful situations. In a way, it’s helped us mature a lot in our relationship because it's made us more open, vulnerable and honest with one another. We communicate a lot about our needs, our different love languages and different communication styles. We are both willing to hold space for one another and lovingly work through tension. Communication is a really big tool. As well as not always taking things personally. There are times when we are in our workspace and one of us is stressed, tired or just not feeling well. It’s easy for the other person to think that they are doing something wrong. It’s important to call out that whatever is going on is not personal and to move on from it. To allow the other person space to move through whatever emotions are coming up for them.

We try to keep things light, to be playful, to compliment each other and show gratitude. We take solitude and rest when we need it and stay true to our independent passions and other friendships. Our togetherness is built on adventure and play so we never let our business push that foundation aside.

Q: How do you and Blaine allocate your tasks within the business? 

Franny: Blaine is the head baker and I get to assist him and learn from him in the bakery. My focus lies in community building, relationships and sourcing. I also love logistics and planning. At the actual event, Blaine tends to the fire and cooks the pizzas to perfection. I lead the presentation, staff management and food prep.

Q: Talk to me about your bread shares!

Franny: We started our bread share program almost two years ago. In order to kick start the build of our industrial garage bakery, we decided to start a weekly bread share. We reached out to our closest friends and encouraged them to sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture-style weekly bread share where they could choose from a variety of loaves ranging from traditional sourdough and baguettes to lavender-orange-dried apricot or roasted pear-turmeric-cinnamon sourdough. Thirty of our friends signed up and we were able to buy our 80-quartz mixer with that money. So cool!We then developed a year-round bread share system where once a week we drop off either one loaf per member or two loaves per member at Base Camp in Wilson, Vertical Harvest in Jackson or at Moonshine Liquor Store in Victor. It’s a fun way for us to stay connected to our community and for them to receive bread after the markets close. It's actually been incredible how much the connections have developed over time by just having the bread share.The relationships grow into doing an event together or becoming friends or trading skills. It's been a great way for us to connect more personally to our customers than we would if the bread was in a store.

Q: Talk to me about your number one favorite thing to do. What's a part of your business that you're just stoked to do every time you do it?

Franny: Man, there's a lot of aspects that I really enjoy! I love the actual events. I love the thrill of creating all the pizzas and making sure they all get out on time and watching people enjoy them. I love having people come up to us and talk with us about where the ingredients are from and why we do what we do. I love the interpersonal connections with our clients and the community that we get to build through this business. I love seeing the same faces at every Saturday market and connecting with people that I normally wouldn't have! We see all different ages and walks of life. I love that I get to work with Blaine and that we both have very different skill sets and approaches, but that together, there's something magical that is created. There are obviously hardships in working with somebody you love so much and balancing the work/life/love equation. But what comes out of all of it is really incredible. I’m grateful for where I am in life.

Q: Let’s talk about work-life balance and what that means to you. 

Franny: I'd say what I do has a very personal and spiritual aspect to it. I think that ritual and  ceremony are ancient ways of people gathering. It's an opportunity to connect with one another, the land and to give thanks. I incorporate lots of ceremony into my daily life.

I think that if you have a gathering or a ceremony and are able to eat local food that is tended to daily and that is produced in the local soil, it helps you have a present experience. I like to go to Full Circle Farm and help out with the workshare mornings in exchange for vegetables and learn about their growing practices. That way we know how to prepare it best. 

I do a lot of yoga at Yoga off Little in Driggs. Biking, camping, backpacking and just resting in nature really helps during the more high intensity summer months.

Q: Talk to me about on and off seasons. How do you prepare for them? 

Franny: The more action oriented work happens in the Summer for us. Fall-Spring is more inward focused, restorative and creative in the planning and manifesting sense. Last summer was our first summer offering pizza, catering and bread all at once. It was a bit intense. Lots of amazing things happening at the same time. 

I've eliminated the word busy from my vocabulary  in the summer because it puts a really negative connotation on how I'm spending my time. Instead I choose to think and say that I am in a great flow and people are receiving our offerings. That helps me stay grateful and positive during the more demanding months. 

It’s nice to transition with the seasons. Summer is meant for outward energy whereas the winter is a time to nourish and rest. It works well for our lifestyle as we both love to ski and travel. My family lives in Germany so having a seasonal business allows us to visit them. Yet I would still love to figure out how to have a little bit more of a work life balance during the summer and allocate time for backpacking, camping and friends. We’ll get there. We are still in the learning phases of our business. Hopefully we will forever be in the learning phase. It’s the best!

Q: What are your thoughts on social media?

Franny: Luckily our business is very hands on and doesn’t require too much time on social media. In the summer we use it for announcements to let our community know what markets we are attending and what our specials are. It's amazing to post something and have people see it and show up the next day at a market and say, oh, I saw that you were baking a certain special and that is why I'm here. During the winter It’s a great way to market our product and services while being open and vulnerable about our journey. 

We also are now starting to connect with the sourdough community on Instagram. There's an amazing podcast, The Sourdough Podcast. It’s been inspiring for us to see what other people do and to learn from them. It’s helped us develop new ideas and feel connected in our craft.

Q: On that note, where would you say most of your new clients come from? 

Franny: I would say word of mouth is really big for us. Bread especially is such an amazing contribution to bring to a dinner gathering. I think a lot of our clients will purchase bread at the market and then will give it as a gift or bring it to a social outing. People try it at a party, hear that it’s from ‘In Season’ and come see us at the next market. It seems like our bread really travels through town, which is cool to picture. Our pizza catering also spreads through word of mouth. Some folks see us at the market and are inspired to invite us to contribute to their event or celebration. We just recently redesigned our website and logo with help from our friends Katie & Erica. It seems like folks are now finding us on the internet or instagram and booking us for next summer.

Q: What are your ideal clients that you want to work with? What are they doing for their wedding or the events that they're putting on that make you excited to be part of it?

Franny: For weddings, we are very attracted to adventurous and lighthearted couples who want to facilitate a meaningful and intentional ceremony. It's awesome when people love food as much as we do and find value in supporting local farmers and local producers, especially when they have a connection to the health benefits and the medicinal properties of food. That's something we're really passionate about. When that clicks with our clients, it's like creating magic together. Some of our best events have been backyard weddings that are laid back casual, and really fun.

As far as other events and the bread goes, we love connecting with anyone and everyone. Like I said earlier, some really cool and unexpected friendships have come out of our bread share program. It sure is special though when our close friends and family members support us. We hope to bring value for anyone. 

Q: What kind of marketing do you do to attract your ideal clients?

Franny: I'm trying to be really honest and authentic with my communication on social media and my choice of words. Within email communication I share our emphasis on sourdough, on local and the commitment that we have towards the wellness of our customers and the wellness of the land. Another thing that has been really awesome is building relationships with photographers, wedding venues and wedding planners that have similar values. If they get contacted first by a client -- they can then recommend us or vice versa. Building a network with like minded wedding vendors has been great. We couldn’t do it without our amazing photographer friends that gift or trade us their photo skills.

Q: What is one thing you wish your clients, audience or people working with you knew a little bit more about your business?

Franny: We have a deep appreciation for our community and the earth. We are committed to only using the best ingredients and working in the most ethical and sustainable way. Our pricing reflects that so I hope to communicate our value system and business practices clearly. Our business is about something much bigger than bread and pizza. It’s about returning to the reciprocal relationship humans originally had with the land and each other. It’s about food as medicine. It’s about the power of choice and voting with our dollars. I would love to find the courage to share more vulnerable and openly about our process and about our beliefs on social media and on our website. It would really give our clients an authentic glimpse into our spirits. That's something that I'm actively working on.

We are currently working on a kickstarter to launch in March. This will help us convert a horse trailer into a mobile pizza operation. Owning our own oven will increase our creative freedom and reach. We want to start a pop up series similar to out in the field. Nature based dining, long communal tables, incredible natural table decorations and plenty of space and time to enjoy each others company. With lots of good food and drinks of course!

Q: If you could go back in time to the beginning of all this and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Franny: Life is so unpredictable, the journey constantly evolves and changes. You can be worried, intense or forceful about your path or you can choose joy in each present moment, step back and let things unfold. Also, you don't have to work harder to be more successful or happier. You can work smarter and find that work, life and happiness balance. That will lead you to true success. I don’t have it all figured out by any means but I feel very grateful and happy and really that’s all I can ask for.

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