Tastemakers 2017: Dara Schwartz of Darista Dips
Why She's a Tastemaker
Darista Dips is a local favorite that's about to go big. Chef and owner Dara Schwartz has already worked her way into 46 grocery stores, including Whole Foods and Giant Eagle Market District. Now after three years, her curated line of all-natural dips with inspired flavors like Hip Hoppin' Morockin' Carrot dip, Zah-Mazing Za'atar hummus and Sweet Po-Thai-To hummus is expanding into more markets, including Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
Starting Over at 30
After a life-altering trip to Thailand, Schwartz walked away from a successful career in marketing to forge a new path in the food business. She got jobs at respected restaurants like Barcelona and Spagio to learn both the culinary and operational side. (Chef Hubert Seifert at Spagio continues to be a mentor.) Schwartz learned she had a flair for dips a few years ago when she was running a pop-up café of global cuisine at The Hills Market. The store asked if she'd consider selling her popular dips on shelves. She went for it, and customers grabbed them up.
Will People Eat Pink Hummus?
Yes they will. The roasted beet hummus, Step It Up a Beet, is a beautiful bright fuchsia and Schwartz's bestseller. It's an homage to her Russian heritage and the borscht her ancestors surely loved. Every dip has a backstory. Darista's sweet potato coconut curry hummus, for instance, is inspired by her “Thai mom,” a 70-year-old woman Schwartz grew close to during her travels. “That's why we don't have 20 products,” Schwartz says. “Every flavor has to represent something.”
New Flavor Alert
Look for a chocolate espresso hummus called Girl Boss—perfect for pretzels, strawberries and, OMG, s'mores—later this year. The decadent spread is an ode to the strong women Schwartz has known—and to her own experience becoming a working mom. All ingredients in this one are sourced from female-owned businesses such as Soom, an artisan tahini company founded by three sisters in Philadelphia.
Schwartz keeps raising the bar on her business plan. She's currently working to expand into more markets, such as Indianapolis. She also just struck a deal with another 2017 Tastemaker,Bake Me Happy, to sell Darista Dips at the gluten-free concession stand inside the 'Shoe.
PREVIOUS GIGS Creative director at Prism Marketing, line cook at Barcelona, barista at Stauf's
MUST-HAVE INGREDIENT Cumin
PREFERRED DIP VEHICLE “Anything crunchy, like Shagbark Seed & Mill corn tortilla chips”
DREAM DINNER DATE ?“My great-grandfather Eli, who fled Eastern Europe to make a better life for his family. He brought his family to Chicago and opened up a delicatessen. Maybe I was destined to work in food.”