How we became farmers

It's the age-old story-boy meets girl, girl convinces boy they should buy an olive farm and make olive oil…

That's the cliff notes version. There were a couple of other steps in between but you get the gist. The reality is our mutual love of preparing food with the freshest ingredients led us down this path.

Chef Johnny's 30-year career in the restaurant and hospitality interest has been fueled by a seldom seen passion for creating food that is not only beautiful but also delectable.  His secret, now known to all of you reading this on the interwebs, is really simple.  He takes local, seasonal ingredients and treats them gently and with love to showcase their natural talent.  To Chef Johnny, food is not a means to an end, it's a chance to create an amazing experience.

On our first visit to this farm, in the tiny town of San Miguel, we took in every breathtaking detail from the long rows of olive trees, to the never-ending views.  What struck us most was the utter peacefulness of this place.  We both knew right away that we would spend our lifetimes here, nurturing our trees, making great olive oil, cooking and growing old.  Now we are excited about sharing our journey with you.  Boccabella Farms is open to the public offering farm fresh products, chef prepared meals for events, and of course, extra virgin olive oil which you can bottle yourself!

Our Family (Human and Non)

Johnny Jantz

Farm Manager/Chef

After years in the big city, Chef Johnny has returned to his rural roots. We let him think he’s in charge.


Shaana Rahman

CEO/Events/Sales & Distribution

We all know who’s really in charge. Shaana is a respected attorney with offices in SF and Paso Robles but she really wants to be a farm girl.

Frankie and Stickers

Security/Anti-Squirrel Squad

Just below Shaana on the org chart, the boys’ primary job is to keep Johnny in line. They wouldn’t know what to do if they ever actually caught a squirrel.

I was born in Lompoc, a small rural community outside of Santa Barbara, California, known for the flower fields of the Burpee Seed Company, the Johns-Manville diatomaceous earth mine, the ICBM missile site at Vandenberg AFB and the year the Little League team almost made it to the World Series. My Father raised chickens, rabbits and honey bees as well as growing a large variety of fruits and vegetables. I was exposed to the freshest of ingredients that were then masterfully prepared by my mother and grandmother. I would indulge in pastry made from scratch by my mother from her wedding cake business or a savory rabbit stew from my grandmother- who learned from her mother- all along absorbing recipes and techniques I still incorporate to this day.


Naturally I left town for the big city as soon as I possibly could.


As a teenager my brother opened his first restaurant where I was employed as a steward and began my eye opening love for the business. A graduate from the California Culinary Academy in the late 90's I gained my first sous chef position at the original Scott’s Seafood on Lombard. Following my passion in the Bay area I’ve worked under such renowned chef’s as Cindi Pawlcyn, Heidi Krahling, Roland Passot, Robert Gureguy, and Scott Howard as well as working for Star Route Farm’s in Boilinas. More recently I began to consult on numerous successful restaurant ventures, including 330 ritch st. S.F. Ca., the Plainsman in MT. And Small Shed Flatbreads in Marin. My passion for food continues to grow as I utilize all of the wonderful local resources and maintain a high respect for local farmers and ranchers who share my goals of showcasing sustainable, local organic products in a responsible and tasty way to the educated, food savvy public.


The big city has a lot of appeal, but on recent business trips to San Luis Obispo and Santa Ynez, I fell in love with the region I grew up in all over again. Now Shaana and I are making this our home.


It’s good to be back.

Woof, woof, woof, SQUIRREL, woof.

I've been a city girl all my life.  Born and raised in New York, with the NY attitude and all, I somehow settled in San Francisco, which I've always considered "NY-light"-little City, no 'tude.  Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed my two decades in SF but at a certain point this city girl started to crave a little nature, and peace and quiet.  All of sudden a life living off the grid, something my friends and I had joked about for years, seemed like not a half-bad life.

   

There has always been something so alluring to me about farming that is inexplicable, considering that in my City life I had a gardener for my small patch of concrete garden.  I credit my mother for my love of the soil.  She was the original "urban farmer" and could grow anything from seed with a scoop of dirt, and an old yogurt container, while rocking out to some Cat Stevens.  Perhaps it was the Cat Stevens…


Olive oil seemed perfect to me.  It too is in my blood.  Growing up in a house with my Italian grandmother, Julia Boccabella Maglio, the tin of olive oil in the kitchen was ubiquitous and felt like home.  I don't think I even knew what butter was until I was 12.  Grandma Julia taught me how to make Italian cookies and raviolis while we watched Julia Child on the tiny black and white TV in the kitchen.


Since my childhood I have been trying to recreate those recipes, pieced together from my mom and aunts and uncles-but as with any New York Italian grandma the recipes handed down consisted of directions like "you know, just a little of the thing and not so much of the other", making the re-enactment of those delicious morsels from my memory a life-long endeavor.

 

A great juxtaposition to my Italian life was my father's side of the family-my Indian side.  My father, who was a chef, briefly, and a great cook taught me how to entertain a crowd with platters and platters of food, and good conversation.  Both sides of the family were all about those big Sunday suppers-laughter, love and food.

Boccabella Farms is 100% local - we live here, too.

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