“I play soccer and Sebastian is a skateboarder,” Emile Dagstani, one of the sons of Dagstani and Sons told us. “And I’m a jam maker!” Sebastian exclaimed.
It all began with a soccer game—Raj Dagstani, the boys’ father, had packed sliced oranges for Emile’s team snack. More accustomed to fruit roll-ups than the real thing, the team left it untouched. With an abundance of oranges left over, they got to work in the kitchen and whipped up the “Orange you glad we beat the Mighty Chivas” jam. Needless to say, the jam was a hit with both the kids and their parents. This batch was the kickstarter for what would become their business.
From 10am to 2pm daily during the summers, the boys are in the kitchen with Raj. They share space with a pizza joint—perfect because the pizzas aren’t served until evening, so the kitchen’s free for jam making all day long.
On the day of our visit, they whipped up a special “Peach Betty” jam, inspired by the line from On the Road, “You could have all your Peaches and Bettys and Marylous and Ritas and Camilles and Inezes in this world…”
A fun fact we picked up: the peaches from Colorado are some of the best in the country (and some of the boys’ favorite fruits to eat). “The Palisades by Crystal Bute have the best peaches ever,” Emile told us, “We drive there to get them and we need them so much.”
Even so, they say working with strawberries is their speciality. “Sebastian takes out the greens while I hold them, then put in the sugar and lemon,” Emile explained to us, “we work together and it’s very even.”
Call us old fashioned, but meeting this pair was incredibly refreshing—the boys can talk at length about anything from school to sports (their own league games or international soccer teams), foreign countries, travel, food and cooking. Just a week ago, they took a road trip from Colorado down to San Diego and up the California coast going in search of the best strawberries, camping along the way. In their downtime, they went surfing and sampled local eats. “When we went to San Francisco, we went to Chinatown and ate everything,” Emile told us, “it ruled big time.” “And now we have boogie boards but no water,” Sebastian chimed in.
For now, they’re sticking to jam (and occasionally pastries filled with it), but Raj has other food-related plans. Note: He’s the former Director of Operations for Thomas Keller. “My dream is to open a tiny, tiny 10-seater restaurant,” he told us, “one that’s only open during the summer, that would require people to hike in.” He has his sights set on a piece of land in Aspen that’s completely off the grid.
If the restaurant does open (and we sure hope it does), we won’t be surprised to see Emile and Sebastian pitching in wherever they can.
Raj is wearing the Crane in Mallard Green
Photos by Collin Hughes