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Meet the Team

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Team KL Keller
Barbara Graves (Sales Manager), Lauren Zaira (Sales), Kitty Keller (Founder) and Jonatan Spahn (Sales; Asst. Marketing Coordinator)

Kitty Keller

Founder

What's your favorite thing to cook and why?
I can't just pick one. What I enjoy most about cooking is being able to then have a dinner with folks I adore using many of the foods, ingredients and beverages (alright, wine) made by people I know personally.

What's your fondest/funniest memory of working at KL Keller?
The time that Gilles Hervy tried to "founder" (verb . . . think of horses) us by serving a magnificent but copious meal. He and his wife had worked so hard and were so generous that I could not refuse firsts, seconds, thirds . . . on five different courses. Happily, I ate like I never ate before (or thereafter)!

What do you do when you're not working?
I like landscaping my garden (I lay my own brick paths), listening to classical music and—above all—throwing a themed party.


Barbara Graves

Sales Manager

After 30 years in the specialty food industry, I'm delighted to be working with Kitty and her amazing collection of artisan foods. As a self-professed Francophile, I began my career importing fine chocolates & sweets from France, Switzerland and Belgium. I then spent a few years in specialty coffee before heading up the sales at The Republic of Tea for 12 years. I love selling authentic products with a story to tell. KL Keller is the perfect fit!

What's your favorite thing to cook and why?
Living in California, I like to take advantage of the year-round fresh foods and abundant seafood in the markets. In the summer I love to make Salade Niçoise with fresh seared ahi tuna. My classic vinaigrette made with Banyuls Vinegar, KL Keller Dijon Mustard and Gilles Hervy Fleur de Sel is a real crowd pleaser!

What's your fondest/funniest moment of working for KL Keller?
Kitty and I were visiting customers in Napa Valley. At the end of the day, Kitty asked, "Want some fresh eggs?" Suddenly, we're gallivanting through the vineyards on windy roads with no signs to indicate any eggs for sale. After 10 minutes we arrive at a house surrounded by a vineyard with clucking hens pecking about. There was no one there, but Kitty knew to head for the garage to find an old fridge circa 1960 with a couple of IOU Post-it notes from neighbors on the door. We opened the fridge, got a dozen eggs (in recycled egg cartons) and put our $4.00 in the honor box. Not sure I could ever find it again, but the eggs were the best ever! That's when I knew Kitty really is Forager Extraordinaire!

What do you do when you're not working?
I live on Mt. Tamalpais in Mill Valley and love to hike or mountain bike on the many trails right outside my door. My husband and I also enjoy globetrotting—from trekking in Nepal to cycling in France and going on safaris in Africa.


Lauren Zaira

Sales

I joined the team in the Spring of 2013. Previously a professional cook in the Bay Area, I am thrilled to be a part of the KL Keller team, working with select chefs, retailers and distributors around the country. I come from a diverse background that includes coordinating weddings at a chapel in Reno (in my high school years), working the line at Green's Restaurant in San Francisco, teaching English in Venezuela, selling gourmet products for a food distributor in Hawaii, and representing Manicaretti Italian Food Imports here in Oakland. My love for excellent food, travel and good relations are an integral part of who I am.

What's your favorite thing to cook and why?
That's a hard question for someone who loves to cook. I especially like making soups and stews—it's easy to incorporate whatever I happen to have on hand. KL Keller ingredients make for easy additions: Hervy Gilles Gray Salt gives everything a depth of flavor and complexity; Piment d’Espelette is good for adding warmth with a little kick; and sometimes I’ll finish a soup with a splash of one of our many vinegars. Agrodolce Priorat Vinegar from Mas d’en Gil is a favorite.

What's your fondest/funniest moment of working for KL Keller?
Kitty and I had an adventure on one of our recent visits to Los Angeles. My phone charger caught fire while navigating through Beverly Hills, and then I got a flat tire on our way to the Anaheim Convention Center. Kitty is great to have around in emergencies. She had both my phone and tire fixed in no time flat, and we got a good chuckle out of it too.

What do you do when you're not working?
When I'm not working, I enjoy the creative process of landscaping my Oakland backyard, hiking the hills with my husband and traveling for business and pleasure.


Jonatan Spahn

Sales; Assistant Marketing Coordinator

I joined the KL Keller team in August 2015, but I have been a part of the Market Hall Foods family going on four years now, three of those as a Fish Monger for Hapuku Fish Shop. Before then, most of my professional career has been working as a line cook for different mom-and-pop restaurants in Southern California—mostly Southern American or Mexican cuisine. After I graduated with my finance degree, I thought I would eventually try going the Wall Street route, but my love and passion for food has brought me here. And I couldn’t be happier.

What's your favorite thing to cook and why?
While I love cooking and being in the kitchen, I really don’t have a favorite thing to cook. I try to tailor my cooking to whatever ingredients are in season. The biggest deciding factor in what I cook is how much time I have left in the day.

What's your fondest/funniest moment of working for KL Keller?
My fondest memory at working at KL Keller is going to the Fancy Food Show in New York with the team. Kitty treated us to an amazing breakfast at Russ & Daughters. There is no better way to start a day then having breakfast and coffee at Russ & Daughters with great company.

What do you do when you're not working?
When I’m not working I enjoy everything that gets me outside: surfing, basketball, futbol. If I’m not doing any of those activities, I am probably watching one of those activities.


Sandy Sonnenfelt 

Product Development sandy sonnenfelt 5

I have been helping Kitty make her inspirations a reality for years. I've been involved in the creation and retailing of prepared foods since 1983, and I've been with Market Hall Foods for 21 years. I am a trained olive oil taster and, when not standing in front of an R&D scale with Kitty, I can be found slurping some of the world's best extra virgin olive oils.

What's your favorite thing to cook and why?
At this moment I am loving lemony, braised baby artichokes. The prep is a meditative experience for me and the finished dish is deliciously versatile—hot or cold, it is excellent. Topped with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and served with prosciutto or other cured meats it’s perfect for entertaining—and fabulous with grilled chicken thighs and ripped kale for a weeknight dinner.

What's your fondest/funniest moment of working for KL Keller?
Attending the Napa Valley Mustard Festival Awards where we were virtually the only women not in fancy ball gowns—imagine our faces upon entering the venue to find this! KL Keller Truffle Mustard won Best Mustard and the food was pretty good, so we had a good time. Winning was nice too!

What do you do when you're not working?
I love yoga, listening to music, gardening, walking with my dog Ms. Jones in the mornings, and Vedic chanting. 

Location

  • K.L. Keller Foodways
    5332 College ave. ste 201
    Oakland, CA 94618

Contact Us

  • 510-740-2030
  • 510-839-7895
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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How To Order

To place an order, please Register on our website. Once approved you may Login to access and print our Price List. The Price List can then be faxed to 510-839-7895.

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