We had the good fortune of connecting with Roe Sie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Roe, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Milling is one of the most important jobs in the world. Without millers there would be no bakers and without bakers, no bread! Fun fact, Miller is the second most common job-related last name in the US. When I discovered home milling, I felt a calling to reintroduce people to this lost art. In the old days, there was a mill close to every community, today, someething like 80% of all our flour is mass produced in 3 massive factories. We’ve lost thousands of community mills in the last centry – so I opened the King’s Roost to teach classes and to make home mills and local whole grains available to everyone. The second you start milling your own flour, a universe of whole grains opens up to you – you can source from local farms, or discover grains from other countries, mill your own spices and even mill gluten free grains. I’ve even discovered that grains even have vintages – you will find differences in flavor from one harvest to the next!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
What sets us apart? I’ve always been proud of the fact that we source grains directly from local farms and organic flours from Central Milling right here in California. Because Central Milling buys direct from farmers, we have always had a very short and resilient supply chain for both grains and flours. For example, Nate Siemens from Fat Uncle Farms has a key to my store, so he just drops grains off whenever he’s in the neighborhood. Compare that to our complex, fragile and meandering industrial supply chain. So, when the pandemic hit, supermarkets couldn’t keep flour in stock, and The King’s Roost suddenly became the only place you could reliably get flours and grains in unlimited quantities. We didn’t miss a beat and for the first few weeks of the pandemic, sales went up twenty-fold. I want people to know that buying local isn’t about immediate gratification, it’s about supporting a system that will be there for you when the shit hits the fan. And, as a nice bonus, I have had an amazing amount of feedback from all these new customers telling me how much better our flours are than even the “premium” brands you find in regular stores. What part of the business am I excited about? Our YouTube channel exploded when the pandemic hit – since stores ran out of yeasts, people found my home-made sourdough starter video, which got a couple million views during the pandemic. Since then we’ve added a few more videos to help people become a bit more self sufficient.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Nowhere. In my opinion, there’s no place like home. We keep chickens, and with a new batch of chicks having arrived after the Newcastle quarantine ended (yup, most people didn’t know chickens have been under strict lockdown for the last couple of years!), nothing beats sitting in the shade of the olive tree, sipping cocktails with our new baby barred rock hens sitting in your lap. Most everyone that visits from out of town ends up learning to mill flour and bake sourdough bread and spin whole grain sourdough pizza right here at the house.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to my family – My wife for challenging me to learn to bake with only whole grains after I got my first mill. and my two sons for absolutely loving the breads I made from day one.
My wife, Trish Sie took the personal photo. she or I took all the others.