Just off Victor, Idaho’s Main Street on Highway 31 sits a modest little 1940s farm cottage. It is adorned in fresh green and blue paint and meticulously designed signs proclaim the property “Food Shed Idaho.” The unassuming moniker belies the store inside. As Victor’s newest market, this small, specialty purveyor highlights local producers of extremely high quality, unique food products.
At first impression, the space evokes an old general store befitting bucolic, rural Idaho. It’s cozy and unpretentious, with a creaky wood floor and raised ceiling, large, old-fashioned windows and shelves heavy with dry goods, pantry staples, sauces, oils and spices. A closer look, however, reveals a sophisticated, delightful collection of food products from around the world — including but certainly not limited to — the fertile Teton Valley. Treasures of all sorts can be found: Cluizel chocolate from France; De Carlo olive oils and Mieli Thun honey from Italy; Late Bloomer Ranch eggs and pork from just down the road in Idaho.
Everything in the store has been vetted and carefully curated by owner Cecily Costa, who also minds the shop, advises customers, whips up delectable samples, and creates a casual, yet utterly charming experience. Costa, a professional chef by training, worked for decades selling niche, specialty foods and ingredients from around the world to San Francisco’s most renowned restaurants and caterers. And there is nothing Costa wants more now than to simply share her wealth of knowledge and passion for amaz- ing ingredients, and the stories and understanding of small producers in her new home next to the Tetons.
Costa hadn’t planned to put down such firm roots in eastern Idaho. After 33 years in the hustle of the San Francisco culinary world, she decided a full reset was in order. So in 2019, she quit her job, sold her house, bought a truck and an Airstream, and hit the road. “I’d never pulled a trailer, and I’d never taken a gap year in my life!” she says. Driving around the country was a grand adventure. But then Covid hit and Costa landed in rural Idaho. Here was a slower pace of life and family: her niece, Corinne McAndrews, had started a working farm in the area called Late Bloomer Ranch.
After settling in to wait out the pandemic, however, Costa realized the exceptional ingredients and food products she’d grown so used to in her previous life were nowhere to be found — not in Victor, Driggs, not Wilson and not in Jackson, either. “The best ingredients you can source from small producers with great stories, their great products weren’t in any stores here. I knew these communities could really benefit from a shop like this,” she says.
Like the small local farms (such as her niece’s operation) from which Costa buys fresh eggs, butter and meats, she also works with small family farms and operations in other parts of the world. “These brands all have great stories, they need to be explained,” she says, before launching into an example: the passion and tradition in every can of Acquerello rice (for risotto). It comes, for the record, from a multi-generational family rice farm on the Po River in northern Italy, where the grains are grown, aged, packaged, and lovingly exported to risotto connoisseurs in the know. Same for the olive oils, the honey, and everything else in the shop.
Bubbly, warm and generous, Costa is loath to let any customer browse her goods without offering samples of various products and explaining the story of each. And each is a good one, harkening back to a time when food was created with care, in small quantities by committed producers via simple, transparent and often centuries-old traditions and symbiotic relationships with their land and animals. It’s her hope to impart a better quality of life through incredible foods to anyone who wanders in the Food Shed door — whether they are simply browsing out of curiosity, or on a mission to create an unforgettable dish. In both cases, they’ve walked through the right door.