Local Purveyor Spotlight: Cecily Costa and Food Shed Idaho

In Jackson Hole, we relish the amazing selection of high-quality, locally produced food and drink as well as carefully crafted imports that mirror Wyoming’s live-off-the-land ethos, respecting the vision and hard work that go into such endeavors. Here we shine a spotlight on a gem situated amidst the fertile farms of Teton Valley, Idaho: Food Shed Idaho, a specialty grocer in Victor that focuses on stocking the finest local and imported ingredients.

Cecily 2

Get to know Cecily and learn the backstory of Food Shed Idaho:

Cecily Costa, opened her culinary country store three and a half years ago, a crescendo to a cross-country journey in an Airstream and has since filled her store with exceptional ingredients and select local produce, dairy, and meat. She’s personalized her store — not a shed, but a blue cottage with green trim — to showcase her passion for all things food-inspired.

An assortment of one-of-a-kind wicker baskets repurposed for shopping are stacked near the entrance as a welcome while an array of classic, vintage cookbooks await discovery, tucked neatly on shelves and between unique items like imported tin fish and squid ink spaghetti. More than 25 framed, mid-century Gourmet covers hang upon a wall opposite the free-standing freezers stocked with specialty items like Wagyu beef from Wyoming and Iberico pork from Spain. Come spring, the 3,000 tulip and daffodil bulbs Cecily planted will explode in full bloom brightening the yard leading to the sleekly elegant store full of surprises.

It’s well worth the scenic drive from Jackson to experience this chef’s paradise firsthand and taste Cecily’s very own small-batch, locally sourced cookies and artisan brittle, but you can also shop online at (https://​food​she​di​da​ho​.com) plus she delivers locally. Cecily hosts wine tastings from May through September, sampling distinctive wines paired with the fine products she carries. You’ll find selections here that you will not find anywhere else. Cecily’s professional background in specialty food informs the items she stocks, and she readily shares the interesting stories behind the producers.

Q. What was your inspiration for starting up Food Shed Idaho?

A. It came to me while on a yearlong road trip about four and a half years ago. I was traveling back roads and was constantly looking for great grocers and butcher shops. I came across a butcher shop (now closed) in Hudson Valley, New York that had these fantastical vending machines. This nose-to-tail butcher shop was open 24 – 7, plus it had a walk-up window during the day. It was amazing; I thought how cool is this! This ultimately was the seed to become Food Shed Idaho.

Q. How did it all begin and when?

A. Though from New England, I had spent the prior 33 years in San Francisco working in hotel sales, graduating culinary school (CCA) and cooking professionally, then working for specialty food importers for 25 years. I loved it.

But one day I needed something different. That’s when I decided to sell everything, buy an Airstream trailer, and take an epic adventure across the US for a year. Along with my trusty sidekick Sparky, living the dream, we visited as many friends and family looking for our next chapter; I was open to anything. The only caveat was I wanted to live near a family member.

Mind you, I had never camped nor pulled a trailer before. I purchased the trailer a few months before I quit my job, squirreling away things I needed for the trip. I practiced pulling and parking every chance I could. Truth be told, some friends thought I was crazy. I thought I’d be crazy not to do it; I didn’t want to live in regret.

Finding exceptional specialty groceries along the way was challenging, so I had my old vendors/​importers sending me provisions. When I came here to Teton Valley, Idaho at the beginning of my trip to visit my niece (Corinne McAndrews of Late Bloomer Ranch), I was surprised to find nothing like this in Jackson. That was the first seed.

Months later, I’m in Hudson Valley and find this incredible 247 butcher with new automat-like vending machines.

Eight months into my trip … COVID. It became clear I could not continue my trip the way I planned. I was able to hunker down in a nice, safe RV park in Hilton Head for two months and rethink my plan. Rural America seemed like the safest place to be, so I decided I would come here and build the store that didn’t exist. I felt I could fill a gap. I had some very special relationships with producers that were not represented in this area. Between locals, visitors, and second and third homeowners, I thought I could carve out a place for a wonderful little specialty shop. Even in San Francisco, my experience was quite unique; I knew I could offer something new to the area.

A year to the day I started my trip, I arrived back in Victor and started to look for a place to buy. I purchased an 80-year-old distressed, commercially zoned fixer-upper. I sold the Airstream. (It’s now on my niece’s farm.) My plan was to live in the house and make the shed on the property the store; a 247 specialty vending machine store like what I saw in New York. It was a crazy idea, perhaps too crazy, but it got me motivated. I moved into the house in August and by Thanksgiving the first phase, the online store, was open.

By spring, the second-phase costs of the shed were getting out of control. That’s when I stepped back, cried, and pivoted to put the business in the house. There would be no vending machines. Though that decision was difficult, it was really the best thing that could have happened.

I love my commute, plus the store has a cozy, personal feeling that the shed would not have. The store is in the front of the house. I live in the middle, and in the back of the house is the storeroom and commercial kitchen. The business has now been open three and a half years. It’s a constant work in progress, and I really enjoy it.

If you are wondering about the name, food shed” by definition is an area rich in agricultural resources, which Teton Valley is. Plus, it was a shed in Idaho.

Food Shed display

Q. What is your favorite aspect about how it has grown or taken shape?

A. My favorite part is education. I love sharing producer stories; most of the lines I carry I have actually visited. I also do a lot of sampling and enjoy showing the difference in quality to a commodity product. Some of my products are quite unique so sampling is important. I want someone to love what they buy before they buy; and, how to read a label. There is a lot of information there, and not there by design.

I love delighting people with what I stock. It’s fun helping people select a pasta and sauce; we carry over 60 shapes now and several different sauce options.

And every day now I get at least one new local coming in by referral. I’m even more thrilled when someone comes over the pass to shop here. Naysayers told me that would never happen.

Q. What is your recipe for running a successful enterprise?

A. Treat people the way you would like to be treated. Open on a shoestring, avoid debt. Be an expert, be passionate, and love what you sell because you may need to eat or wear it. Do your homework, set realistic expectations, and try and have a diversified customer base. And don’t listen to naysayers who are not an expert in your line of business.


Q. Why is your focus on locally sourced food important?

A. Local is important, but just because something is local does not mean it’s grown organically or without hormones and steroids, or even made well. Being a specialty grocer, I focus on the best, most unique, limited ingredient, authentically made products. I want it to be local, but sometimes it’s not.

Fortunately, the few local products I carry are extraordinary, and I believe have such a huge positive impact on our diet. For example: hi-fat, raw, Jersey milk butter from a closed herd of 21 cows from Cache Meadow Creamery (Preston, ID); Late Bloomer Ranch pasture raised heritage pork (Driggs, ID); and Grazing Star Ranch 100-percent, pasture-raised and 100-percent, full-blood Wagyu (Freedom, WY).

We also carry beautiful high-extraction, organic flour from Hillside Grain (Bellevue, ID); Winter Winds Farm farmstead goat cheese (Victor, ID); and during the summer, Canewater greens (Victor, ID). It’s important for me to have a relationship, a partnership with the producer. Many of these producers are Slow Food members too.

Our terroir” series of cookies are made with Cache Meadow butter, Late Bloomer Ranch eggs, and Hillside Grain flour. All the ingredients are intentional and exceptional. They are not easy to get and their cost is three to four times the price of commodity. I think you can taste the difference. I’m not interested in being a high-volume bakery. I just want to make the best little cookie, at a fair price, that you can enjoy without guilt, and possibly give you some thought on how good ingredients matter.

I try to carry the best quality products I can source that are not available elsewhere, locally. I go out of my way to have a relationship with the producer and visit them. Our food system is so compromised. Stabilizers, emulsifiers, gums, and thickeners are everywhere; 99 percent of what I stock does not have those ingredients. So many people are intolerant to something. Clean eating is the healthiest. This is where reading, and how to read a label is so important. And packaging, ugh. I prefer glass and paper to anything plastic.

Q. Please share a fun fact or facts about you and your store.

A. I’m a one girl (and dog) show. Though my hours are from 12 – 6 daily (closed Tuesday and Wednesday), I regularly open early if you call ahead. Or if I see you in the parking lot, I might chase you down and open for you. After all, I’m a girl that likes to make a sale.

I took a few break-dancing lessons in the 80s. I prefer disco.

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Perfect Trip

There is so much to do in Jackson Hole. Rush downriver in a kayak. Ride horseback through a sea of golden grass. Cast a line into water clear as the sky, while the fish flash by like stars. There’s hiking, biking, snowmobiling, and of course, skiing. The Clear Creek Group affiliates with the best service providers in the area, people as passionate as we are about providing great experiences. We can arrange anything imaginable, from backcountry pack trips and heli-skiing to the selection of a personal chef.

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