Chef Tony Howe is a San Diego native, born on Camp Pendleton, who grew up experiencing the frequent travel that is typical of a military family. When his father left the military to become a long haul trucker, Tony began to discover his passion for cooking by way of preparing dinners and packing lunches for the family. Encouraged by his father to pursue this love of cooking through formal training, Tony was able to use grants and scholarships to attend the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu School of culinary arts in Pittsburgh. Entering commercial kitchens for the first time, Tony began as a humble dishwasher, before becoming one of the banquet chefs at the 700 seat members only Rivers Club in Pittsburgh. From there, Chef Howe spent time in the kitchens of Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu, HI, and eventually came under the tutelage of the immensely knowledgeable Chef Ed Matthews of One Block West, in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. It was during his 7 years here that Chef Howe first fell in love with the concepts of sustainability, local foraging, upcycling scrap ingredients, and building culinary community. These would become core components of Chef Howe’s culinary philosophy as his career moved forward. Inspired by his spouse Rocky, Chef Howe made the decision to go vegan, a challenge for any chef, but especially for one trying to build a life and career in small-town Virginia. To solidify their commitment to vegan cuisine, Tony and Rocky uprooted their lives, and returned to San Diego, one of the country’s epicenters for vegan culinary innovation. Here, they met Chef Roy Elam of Donna Jean, someone with a unique culinary vision for the future of vegan cuisine, and together they began a 4 year journey to create something new and inspiring at Donna Jean.
Chef Tony Howe
Origins of Scratch House
One of the biggest challenges Chef Howe faced during his tenure at Donna Jean was the lack of vegan cheese options with the form and function to meet the needs of a professional kitchen. When they couldn’t find a suitable vegan Mozzarella for pizza on the Donna Jean menu, Chef Howe began binge researching and testing new creative methods and ingredients, determined to solve the problem himself. The success led to a new obsession, and Chef Howe set off on a journey of discovery, creating an ever growing menu of delicious and functional vegan cheeses, and specialty vegan provisions. Out of this passion side-project, Scratch House was born, and has now become a full time stand alone venture. The mission of Scratch House is to break the few remaining barriers of vegan elevated cuisine, using scrap ingredients and ‘ugly’ produce to bring everything traditionally found on a charcuterie board to veganism. In addition to Chef Howe, and Chef Roy Elam of Donna Jean, Scratch House also welcomes the talents of San Diego’s finest, including Zach Vouga from Plant Power Fast Food, and Mitch Wallis of Evolution Fast Food. Scratch House seeks to design a uniquely SoCal vegan experience, working together with other purveyors in the local farm, restaurant, and vegan communities to build a new sustainable, ethical, harm and waste free culinary world – from scratch.
Cheeses and Menu Offerings
Fermented Fresno Jack
A classic Pepper Jack cheese, with a touch of Scratch House flair makes this cheese a cornerstone of our menu. The key to this cheese’s unique flavor is Donna Jean’s Fresno Hot Sauce. Fermented for 4 months, the Fresno Chiles are pureed with vinegar, and the seed pulp imparts a fruity, salty, and fully fermented flavor. Sweet red bell peppers and a touch of fresh rosemary finish out the full bodied flavor profile, for a peppery Jack cheese that works equally well on a charcuterie board, in pasta, or melted for a quesadilla.
Creamy Dill Havarti
Firm yet slightly creamy, this Dill Havarti has background notes of Mediterranean oregano, and a faint bite of white peppercorn. It can be used as a classic charcuterie board stand alone, a salad topper, or to dress up veggie sandwiches.
This firm, springy block is aged for 7 days, then given an 8 hour cold smoke with hickory. No liquid smoke or artificial flavors here, jus authentic direct wood smoke. Easy to slice thin for sandwiches, or shred into mac and cheese, and perfectly paired with fruits on a board.
Salty, tangy, slightly funky, this potato and rice based wedge does everything you want parmesan to do. Firm enough to stand up to a microplane, but will still melt into a sauce.