Michael ZonFrilli Headshot

Fabulous People: Michael ZonFrilli

Michael ZonFrilli is the founder and CEO at Bambucha Kombucha, which uses blends of organic fruits, roots and botanicals to create bright, bubbly and functional beverages. “In addition to our non-alcoholic kombucha, we recently launched a line of hard kombuchas, and the response has been amazing!” Learn about Michael ZonFrilli…

Follow at: @bambuchakombucha

Hometown: Carlsbad, CA

First job: Breakfast cook on the Jersey Shore.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in CA: Surfing at my favorite local break, seeing live music, cooking for my family and chilling in my backyard.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: Bambucha has managed to get healthy, delicious beverages into millions of mouths and recently took home three gold medals at the 2023 Kombucha Kup competition. We have lots of small victories, but our growing team continues to learn together and strives to get better every day. We have a lot more we want to accomplish.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: When we founded Bambucha we were bootstrapping side hustlers. At the time there really weren’t any resources on how to brew kombucha commercially. I think starting from scratch helped us in developing best practices and fine tuning our core flavors over time. Trying to scale a business with a few people is definitely an obstacle to rapid growth, but after a few hard-fought years, we now employ great, passionate people to help craft our products and support the brand. A chef is only as good as the people working next to them.

Someone who inspires you and why: I’ve always been inspired by Anthony Bourdain. He showed that a chef could transcend professional kitchens and that pivoting in a different direction doesn’t necessarily mean leaving behind the things you’ve learned and loved on the journey. He was also a total badass.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: My advice would be the same for a young chef as for someone starting a beverage company. You need to take your time learning, work very hard and have love and respect for what you are crafting. Be humble and remember you are only as good as your last plate….or pint. Neither career path is easy, but putting in the time and effort can be very rewarding when a finished product brings people happiness.

Favorite quote: “Make it nice or make it twice.”

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I first experienced kombucha on a communal farm in southern Oregon. This was a couple of years before commercial kombucha was even introduced at Erewhon in Los Angeles, and I remember being intrigued, but a little frightened, by the bubbling vat of mystery hippie tea.

What makes someone fabulous: The ability to realize that life is what you make of it.

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