Chamber hosts ribbon-cutting for new Paper Fig Kitchen
The island community marked the recent opening of a new restaurant-catering company last week.
The Sanibel and Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 22 for the Paper Fig Kitchen, owned and operated by Jeramie and Debra Campana. It offers take-along, daily made-to-order and over-ready food items, as well as catering and private chef with concierge service.
“We make everything in-house,” Chef Jeramie Campana, who works the kitchen and handles the food side of the business, said. “We don’t buy anything and repackage it we make them all by hand.”
With a background in meeting and event planning, Debra handles the client-side of the operation.
“Food should be good,” she said of providing catering menus filled with hand-crafted recipes.
The couple relocated to Sanibel in May 2017 from Barrington, Illinois, where they had owned and operated a boutique custom-catering and event company called the Wild Asparagus for 10 years.
Debra Campana noted that she had been visiting the island since she was a child.
“Sanibel was always it,” she said of her and her husband’s happy place. “It was always the goal.”
Together, they have a combined 35 years of culinary, food styling and planning experience.
Jeramie Campana’s career in the food industry began in the United States Coast Guard, where he learned his way around a kitchen and became a food service specialist for officers at an air station.
“He cooked for the pilots,” she said.
Afterward, he landed a position at a premier restaurant and catering company in Barrington.
“He was their head chef,” Debra Campana said.
The husband-wife duo eventually crossed paths and started up the Wild Asparagus, which the couple sold before moving south to the island. However, they had no intentions of settling down just yet.
“That was always the plan,” she said of opening a new venue. “We’re not retirees.”
“Boutique catering really is an art,” Debra Campana added.
She explained that she and her husband felt their was a need on-island they could fill. With so many vacationers and even retirees, a business offering fresh, handmade prepared meals could be a hit.
“They just want to be able to throw something in and make it easy,” Debra Campana said.
And since opening on July 20, the community’s response has been all positive.
“It’s been awesome,” Jeramie Campana said.
“I think there’s a need for the prepared food side,” he added.
The Paper Fig Kitchen features a fully-stocked cold case of ready-to-eat foods and oven-ready hors d’oeuvres and meal options. Jeramie Campana noted that shoppers simply follow the instructions.
There is also a made-to-order board with sandwiches, salads, soups and more.
“It’s fairly quick-order stuff,” he said of the wait time.
Jeramie Campana explained that he relies on local farms as often as possible to ensure the freshest ingredients. For example, the sandwich meat in the made-to-order items is not prepackaged pre-sliced deli meat. It is meat from, say, a turkey that he seasoned and cooked for the packaged meal options.
“We try to stay on trend with things or even stay ahead of the trends,” he said of his recipes.
He likes to add a twist to his dishes, like crab cakes but a Southwestern version. There is also a sandwich that comes with their loved cheese puff as a topping, with Asian sweet chili sauce.
“So opposite sides of the spectrum,” Jeramie Campana said of the flavor combo.
Asked about the story behind the name of their business, Debra Campana explained it.
“We wanted something that was very Sanibel,” she said, adding that the paper fig is a type of seashell. “It’s my favorite shell, plus it plays off the food element the fig.”
For more information, visit paperfigkitchen.com or call 239-887-0050.
The Paper Fig Kitchen is at 2003 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.