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Inside Turlock’s ‘Freckled Gem’
The Freckled Gem
Allison Bradley, Michelle Drake and Rachael Eccleston pose inside the Freckled Gem Café on the opening day of the Turlock Certified Farmers Market last month (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Walking down Main Street in Turlock on Saturdays during the weekly Turlock Certified Farmers Market, you may sense the smell of eggs and toast in the air. You may also notice that things look a bit lonelier behind the table of popular microgreens stand Drake’s Greens.

This year at the Farmers Market, Drake’s Greens cofounder and co-owner Michelle Green has expanded her reach in downtown by opening the Freckled Gem Café, serving up coffee, gelato, paninis, avocado toast, biscuits and a variety of other breakfast sandwiches. She is located right beside her husband, Sedric, who continues to manage the Drake’s Greens table.

Drake explained that she had been thinking about bringing gelato to the market, as she runs Aldo’s Italian Ice and Gelato in Tracy. It wasn’t until this past winter when another market vendor, Haley Badali of Gustine Gourmet Mushrooms, recommended bringing avocado toast to downtown caught her attention before her mind was off to the races with ideas.

“I make gelato as my full-time job, and I was originally going to bring just gelato to the market. One of the vendors, Haley said, ‘Hey, what about microgreens and avocado toast?’ And that's all I needed to just go hog wild,” Drake said. “It just kind of snowballed.”

Throughout the course of a Saturday market, Drake and her partners, Allison Bradley and Rachael Eccleston, are receiving handoffs of fresh microgreens from Sedric. And it’s not the only ingredient that she is getting directly from the market. Each of her ingredients are bought from other vendors. Drake purchases eggs from Way of Life Farms, bread from Flourish Bread Co., jellies and jams from Jars of Delicious, pickles from Green Vine Canning, cheese from Stuyt Dairy and produce from J&J Ramos Farms.

“It’s 100% locally sourced,” she said. “Let's be real, it has been my secret, lifelong dream to have a farmers market-fueled café where I go and purchase fresh products from makers and growers and make delicious food for people to eat. I want to support people who support other people.”

One of the themes that the ladies at Freckled Gem Café have been pushing out to customers is their sandwich of the month, which is announced on their Instagram at @TheFreckledGemCafe. Recent sandwiches of the month include the chicken pesto panini and the honey fried buttermilk biscuit. Some sandwiches come in multiple ways, as well – a breakfast version, a lunch version, a sandwich version, and a gluten free version.

“It’s so amazing for me to do this and accomplish one of my goals of cooking at the farmers market and to do it alongside these amazing women,” Drake said. “It's important to me for this to be women-ran and focused because most of the time, we were told to go back to the kitchen, but that isn’t right because we are the kitchen. You're going to find food that is incredible and was made by women through our passion of cooking. It’s something to appreciate.”

Despite Freckled Gem Café being woman-owned and operated, Drake gives an abundance of credit to Sedric.

“My husband is 100% my backbone, always encouraging me and supporting me and my ideas,” she said. “There’s no chance in the world I can do this without him.”