Host Profile: Roe Sie of The King's Roost

A farm smack-dab in the middle of Los Angeles? Seems unlikely. But for Roe Sie, bread making master of The King's Roost, it's a dream-turned-reality. His path from raising chickens developing a fully-fledged urban farm was not without hiccups, but resulted in a business that encourages city folk to get in touch with their roots. 

  Image via  Andrew Southam

Image via Andrew Southam

Tell us more about yourself: what brought you into the DIY world?

I took a break from the corporate world to be a stay-at-home dad while my wife, Trish, went back to work. We started keeping chickens around that time, and getting fresh backyard eggs in the middle of Los Angeles was a game-changer. It made me realize we’re not limited by living in a city; there are some things that make sense to make at home, even in urban areas. Soon, I was milling flour, making soap, designing and building aquaponic systems for raising tilapia and veggies together, producing sauerkraut and kombucha, and even keeping honeybees on our roof. I was obsessed and I was dying to share these skills with other city dwellers.

You offer such a variety of experiences -- what's your favorite class to teach or thing to make?

My fresh-milled whole wheat sourdough class really ties together so many of the satisfying aspects of DIY: the simplicity, independence from our industrial food system, and the ability to make something healthier, tastier and cheaper than ANYTHING you can buy in the store.  Imagine being able to create something far superior to anything you can buy anywhere, for a fraction of the cost. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

What is something most people don't know about your job?

Many don’t know that my bread class is now mobile and that I’m available for public speaking! I’ve taught my bread class in corporate conference rooms, home kitchens… I even did a milling and bread baking demo in the middle of a cornfield, using just an extension cord and a fold up table. Students in my bread classes have asked me to come speak to their groups/companies about home milling, DIY, chicken keeping, fermenting and general self-sufficiency. I’ve been a regular presenter at the Los Angeles Bread Festival and spoken for the Los Angeles chapter of the Sierra Club.

What was the biggest achievement in starting your business? The biggest challenge?

There are so many satisfying experiences in starting a business, many of which come from surprise challenges. For example, one year after launching my business, my landlord sold our building without warning. We had to find a new location, secure a lease, and move the store in 3 weeks, trying not to close for more than a couple days. It was a wild time, but we ended up in a much better location. The challenge turned out to be for the best. But what I’m most proud of is the way my bread class has taken off. When I first started teaching it, 100% of the students came from our little local bread bakers meetup group. I was terrified that as soon as that source of students was exhausted, that would be the end of the class. Fast forward a year or two, and my class is sold out most of the time, with students from all over Southern California.

The biggest challenge? Coming up with new classes! People are having so much fun with the current courses, I don’t have time to develop all the classes I want to teach, so I’ve begun bringing in other experts in the field to teach as guest instructors.

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Any advice for other people who want to start their own business and pursue what they love?

Make a plan; be persistent, patient and flexible; ask for help; be open to trying new things and letting go of ideas that don’t work. A business has a life of its own; it grows and changes in ways we never expect. I’ve been surprised by how much sourdough bread and home-milling has resonated with my local community, and over time, it’s become the focal point of the business.

 

To meet the man himself and learn his best techniques, sign up for Roe's incredible classes here.