Sinto Gourmet has been making the best quality of Kimchi and Gochu Jang since 2010.
Based in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, they are one of the country’s market leaders in fermented foods.
All their products are non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan, and they really work! (you’ll understand why by reading the interview below)
Check out Sinto Gourmet’s website here and try their products at your local grocery store or on Good Eggs!
We got a chance to interview Sinto Gourmet’s Owner, Hyunjoo Albrecht, in January 2019.
Hyunjoo, what is your background?
I am originally from South Korea, and my last job there was as a Sales Territory Manager at Cisco Systems.
Selling routers and switches to online game companies was very stressful… and not very fun.
When I moved to the US, I took a chance at a new career and enrolled in culinary school. I worked as a chef at various restaurants, catering companies and country clubs.
One day, I was shopping at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, and realized there was only one Kimchi brand back then. My immediate thought was “This city needs more Kimchi… the best one!”
Right there and then, you decided to start Sinto Gourmet?
Yes! I founded the company back in 2010 with $8,500 in savings and from my bedroom. In the beginning, I used my bedroom closet to store glass jars and lids.
My first customers were my friends, a few neighbors, my husband’s colleagues, and my dentist!
Did you know that we are one of the country’s market leaders in the fermented foods category today? We are still a small local company, with 12 employees now, and we go through about 4,000 to 6,000 pounds of cabbage every single day.
Can you give me a few fun facts?
Let’s see! My most notable order is the very first retail order I received from Rainbow Grocery. I just walked in the store with a sample jar of Kimchi and talked to the store buyer. We sat on a bench under the tree outside the store entrance, and as soon as she tasted it, she immediately said yes to my Kimchi… it’s an unforgettable moment for me!
Also, a couple of years into running the business, I received a phone call from a lady in Boston. She started screamed on the phone “IT WORKS! YOUR KIMCHI WORKS!! IT REALLY WORKS IN MY BELLY!!!” It turns out that she had been suffering from severe constipation for years and our Kimchi that she bought at the farmers’ market during her business trip to San Francisco finally solved her belly problems.
Who are your main clients today?
We’re in many retail stores, and the main ones are Whole Foods, Sprouts, Central Market, HEB, and more locally GoodEggs, Rainbow Grocery and Berkley Bowl.
Our kimchi is also served at Google, Facebook, Pinterest, the Intercontinental Hotel and many more.
What are your latest products or good news?
We have just launched ‘Gochu Jang’ [the red bottles pictured below!] – it is a Korean fermented chili paste that we are starting selling both at retail and food service, and I heard that we were the only one making it from the scratch in US. All other brands use or repack Gochu Jang imported from South Korea which is full of fructose, corn syrup, wheat, and many other inferior ingredients and preservatives.
In terms of good news, we are very excited to start supplying a 200+ store chain called Natural Grocers later this year.
What does the future hold for Sinto Gourmet?
We are running out of space in our current facility and really need to look for a bigger facility soon — in which we hope to not only produce but also have people come in and experience what we do and how we do it.
I would also love to come up with many other products that are healthy, fun, and convenient that everybody can enjoy.
Why manufacture in San Francisco?
It’s very convenient and simple. I live in SF and my commute is only a 10-minute drive.
This experience of manufacturing locally in the Bay area really reminds me of my childhood in the countryside in South Korea: everybody produced something as a farmer, rancher, tofu maker, shoe maker… etc. If we needed to buy something, we needed to look no further than from local producers.
Why did you join SFMade?
SFMade has been a great source for a lot of things along the way, from starting to growing my business.
Also, it creates a community and gives me a chance to interact with other manufacturers, to socialize and share information.
~An interview by Pierre @ SFMade. Thank you Hyunjoo!