Edible Monterey Bay

Carmel Chef Creates Organic Nut Milk Business

June 9, 2020 – Faced with sheltering in place during a pandemic, some people turn to jigsaw puzzles or Zoom cocktail parties. Amalia Scatena, on the other hand, set out to create her own plant-based milk—and the result is a whole new side business for the executive chef at The Stationaery in Carmel.

It all grew from Scatena’s longing for a really good milk alternative, minus the sugar, flavorings and other additives that come with buying typical supermarket brands. Being the chef that she is, she decided that she might as well make her own. Now she’s sharing it with others.

“Ingredients are really, really important to me,” Scatena says. “Doing this has been therapeutic for me.”

What she came up with is a creamy mixture that is made from nuts and filtered water—nothing more. Not only that, but her husband, Brandon, traditionally a drinker of dairy products, tried it and “was surprised at how much he liked it,” says Scatena.

Unsweetened and organic, the nut milks that they developed are offered in glass bottles that can be reused and refilled after being washed and sterilized. 

The couple has dubbed their new enterprise Mylkmaid Monterey and are offering their products at The Stationaery and via an old-fashioned delivery program, in which they deliver bottles of Mylkmaid products directly to customers’ doors.

Scatena, who helped open The Stationaery two years ago with owners Anthony and Alissa Carnazzo, is also busy in the kitchen there. The restaurant, which had been offering menu items for takeout, recently returned to reopening for dine-in service as restrictions are gradually lifted. 

Chef Amalia Scatena

She came to the restaurant after 15 years working in Tuscany, Virginia and South Carolina, the last seven spent as culinary director for the Easton Porter Group.

Scatena spearheaded the creation of four restaurants, which went on to win awards from The Travel Channel, Brides Magazine and Travel & Leisure. She was named one of Top 5 Upcoming Star Chefs by Food & Wine.

Her obsession with plant-based milks stems from a slight lactose intolerance, which has made her seek out substitutes. Scatena says she completely understands why larger manufacturers add certain ingredients to these milks, but it wasn’t what she wanted for herself.

Now she and her husband are making Mylkmaid products in the kitchen at The Stationaery.

The nuts are soaked for 12 hours and then chopped in a blender using a dull blade, “beating (the mixture) rather than blending it into a purée,” she says, and then a straining process squeezes out every drop.

Potential customers are being reached through The Stationaery and through Instagram (@mylkmaidmonterey). Scatena says a website is in the words.

Mylkmaid is currently delivering about 30 bottles a week and Scatena expects that to ramp up as word gets out. Customers can either have a one-time delivery or sign up for regular deliveries. A first-time delivery is $16 per quart, which includes the bottle fee; subsequent refills are $12.

Right now the couple is offering three types of organic nut milk—cashew, almond and macadamia—made by hand and bottled in glass quart jars. Customers on a subscription plan pay a one-time fee for the bottles and then set their empty bottles out for pickup so that the bottles can be reused.

Scatena is toying with the idea of adding flavorings like chocolate and vanilla, and perhaps seasonal flavors as well.

“Our next thought is what to do with the pulp that’s left over,” says Scatena, who wants to further reduce waste by either composting the nut pulp or finding other uses for it.