Photographed by Geoffrey Squier Silver, July 7, 2000.
It’s not as exotic as it sounds, or maybe it was a little exotic for Oregon in the 1970s… The Tofu Palace is where Toby Alves, the founder of Toby’s Family Foods, launched her culinary vision for tofu. It all began in 1978, when Toby rented a food booth at the Oregon Country Fair (OCF).
This is not your run-of-the-mill country fair — the Oregon Country Fair is an immensely popular, free-spirited art and music festival attended by thousands of people every summer. And one of the top attractions, visitors from around the world make a beeline to, is Toby’s Tofu Palace.
It’s all about the flavor! That’s what Toby discovered when trying to get her kids to eat tofu. Because let’s face it, tofu might be a good source of plant-based protein, but it doesn’t have much flavor. To make it more appealing, Toby came up with a seasoning mix, a combination of nutritional yeast with a delicious infusion of Mexican and Indian spices. She used the seasoning to make “Tofu Tia Tacos” at the Oregon Country Fair and it was an instant sensation!
If you’re curious to see it for yourself, the Tofu Palace is located near the Oregon Country Fair’s entrance, and continues to delight visitors with yummy tofu tacos, burritos, salads, hibiscus coolers, and more! (Psst…. This year due to COVID-19 OCF will be presenting Fair in the Clouds: A Virtual Event on July 9, 10 & 11, 2021.)
it was this overwhelmingly positive response Toby received at the fair every summer, in addition to the weekly Saturday markets, that encouraged her to begin manufacturing her own line of natural food products. One of her most popular products continues to be the Seasoning Mix she used to make “Tofu Tia Tacos” which is available in many grocery stores and in Toby’s online store.
Don’t worry, if you’re not a tofu lover, this Seasoning Mix can be used on anything — meats or veggies — that could use some zesty flavor. Visit our recipe page for even more ways to use Toby’s Seasoning Mix.
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