Sunday, July 21, 2024

Jason Tucker of Bluefin Rawbar. (Photo: Carlie Febo)

The Kendall Square Farmers Market, in the area’s canal district, has colorful characters and captivating tales accompanying its locally sourced products.

Jason Tucker, owner of Bow Market’s Bluefin Rawbar in Somerville and head of market operations for seafood distributor Red’s Best, is one of the characters – and confirms it’s, in part, the stories that keep his customers coming back. “They want to meet the farmer,” or in his case, the fisher, he said. “My customers count on me having a lot of stories from the water, whether they are just complaints about bad weather or the boat breaking down. It’s an important part of our business.”

“I’m just a former chef trying to be a fisherman in my dreams. Really, every one of my efforts in business is trying to free me up to do more fishing,” Tucker said.

Tucker said his followers, like other market shoppers, come for distinctly local goods. “Not only do we offer the best of the best in Boston in terms of fresh product, but you can also be assured that it is what we say it is, and it’s coming from a local fisherman,” Tucker said.

A lobster roll by Bluefin Rawbar. (Photo: Carlie Febo)

Tucker and his partner, Red’s Best founder Jared Auerbach, were pioneers in source identification software, developing a proprietary tool several years ago that assures the customer of a seafood’s source. They were also the drivers behind getting fresh fish to area farmers markets in the first place. “It was basically because of an unwillingness on the part of local inspection services to change or innovate,” Tucker said. “It was pretty ridiculous that Boston shouldn’t have fresh fish at farmers markets.” In response, he and Auerbach launched a public-private partnership with the then-mayor’s office to write food safety protocols and “prove the program, keeping temperature logs to show that we could hold fish on ice in a cooler and that kind of stuff.”

At Kendall, Tucker is one of almost 20 vendors in the market after a three-year Covid-forced hiatus. The venue, sponsored by BioMed Realty and produced by Mass Farmers Markets, showcases a variety of Massachusetts products and other goods at stalls open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays until Nov. 16 at 450 Kendall St.

Tucker appears weekly with 10 other small-business owners; a half-dozen others are there more intermittently, including Brian Ruhlman of Craic Sauce, a seller of hot sauces.

“My dad would always have green Tabasco, and I started to really like that when I was around like 10 or so,” Ruhlman said. When his father decided to grow ghost peppers in the family garden years later, Ruhlmann was happy to sample some – “and almost threw up because it was so hot,” he said. “So I was like, what did I do with a hundred of these?”

Visitors have been buying the results of his enterprising answer since 2017.

Cambridge Day will visit with Ruhlman and a handful of other Kendall farmers market participants to share their stories in the weeks to come, including:

Cini Coffee

Depth N Green

Harper the Sharper

Sherman & Cherie’s Beezy Bees