Featured, Food, Food Artisans

Renowned Chocolatier Comes to Zingerman’s for Two Events


askinosie-logoWe’re very happy to announce that founder and CEO of Askinosie Chocolate, Shawn Askinosie will visit two Zingerman’s businesses in mid-May to share his story and his chocolate!

Shawn Askinosie had a successful career as a criminal defense lawyer for nearly 20 years before he founded his Springfield, Missouri chocolate-making business. He was recently named by O, The Oprah Magazine as “One of 15 Guys Who Are Saving the World.” They said,

“Why we’re fans: The philanthropically-minded chocolate entrepreneur aims to get students thinking about business ethics in a way that could have ripple effects for generations.”

Askinosie Chocolate is a small-batch award-winning chocolate manufacturer with 15 full-time employees. Askinosie sources 100% of their beans directly from the farmers, and Shawn travels to regions of Ecuador, Honduras, the Philippines, and Tanzania to work directly with the farmers. This allows the chocolate to be traced to the source and labeled Authentic Single Origin Chocolate. It also enables Askinosie Chocolate to profit share with the farmers, giving them a Stake In the Outcome™. The Askinosie Chocolate mission is to serve their farmers, their neighborhood, their customers and each other; sharing the Askinosie Chocolate Experience by leaving the world a better place than they found it.

ZingTrain Speaker Series

On Wednesday, May 14, 7am, Shawn will take the reins at the ZingTrain Speaker Series to tell you his story, the story of how a criminal defense attorney became a chocolate maker. The story of how his business, Askinosie Chocolate, wins more awards for its chocolate than we can keep track of. The story of how his small 15-person business makes a huge positive impact on all it comes in contact with the world over. The story of how you can go about creating meaningful work, creating a business with a vocation.


Students and non-profit organizations will get a 50% discount for this event!

Tasting at Zingerman’s Deli

On Thursday, May 15, 630pm, Shawn will share his story at Zingerman’s Events on 4th, and lead us in a tasting of a selection of his amazing bean-to-bar chocolates. This event sells out fast so get your tickets today!


Bonus! If you register for both events, you’ll get three Askinosie Single Origin bars as our way of saying thanks!

Food, Food Artisans

A Very Italian Seder

Celebrating Passover in Italy




Arborio rice…check.

French Matzo…check??

If this is starting to sound like a game of Supermarket Sweep, you’re sort of on the right track.  This grocery list did in fact exist at one time and, while only comprised of a few items, evokes fond memories of a very impromptu, very resourceful, and very delectable Passover Seder thrown together by a friend and myself while studying abroad in Florence, Italy two years ago.


Before delving into the mishegas surrounding this particular Seder, I must preface with the fact that Passover and I have had a love/hate relationship for pretty much my entire life. Growing up in a reform Jewish household just outside of Chicago, my family upheld a unique but lax set of Passover traditions come springtime. While we always either hosted or attended a Seder, it typically consisted of 90% eating and conversation and only about 10% prayer or religious ritual (my kind of holiday indeed). So it came as quite the shock to me that one of the most salient and dare I say heartwarming memories from the five months I spent in Florence was the aforementioned Passover Seder.

After arriving to Italy in late-January 2012 and spending three lengthy months navigating the ins and outs of Italian life, I found myself slipping into a bit of a homesickness rut. As romantic as my perceptions of Italy were while still at home, nothing prepared me for the culture shock of living in a new country. Granted, the copious amounts of pasta, gelato, and brick oven pizza definitely helped ease the stress, but nailing down a new routine and finding my groove in a place so drastically different from home turned out to be an emotional roller coaster.

Fortunately, one of my best friends Emma G. was scheduled to pay me a visit in Florence right around said time.  As a study abroad student in Spain and a general detester of shellfish, cured meats, and excessive use of olive oil (pretty much the primary food groups of Spain), she had grown rather weary of the culinary landscape of her host country. Italy proved a haven of her personal food loves, so we both knew it would be a carb and dairy heavy weekend from the get-go. Coincidentally, her visit also fell right around the start of Passover and as two study abroad kids longing for a taste of home, we took it upon ourselves to recreate our very own Passover Seder in the heart of Florence.

Right off the bat, we had a set of foods in mind we knew we would have to include in order to make it a both an authentic Jewish and Italian Passover Seder. After deliberating and narrowing down options, we eventually settled on a menu of charoset  (a traditional salad comprised of finely chopped apples, walnuts, cinnamon, and wine traditionally piled on matzo), an arugula salad with grated Parmesan cheese, caprese salad, and risotto. For any fellow Passover celebrator, I a fully aware that risotto is probably the most inappropriate dish for a Passover Seder, but given it was Emma’s first time in Italy, grains were a very necessary component of our culinary lineup for the weekend.


While optimistic about our plan, the execution of the meal proved challenging to say the least, presenting a whole slew of roadblocks, the most challenging of which include:

  1. Lack of matzo. As shocking as it may seem, Florence is not home to too many Jewish holiday foods, outside of the offerings from one shoebox size Jewish grocery store near the Florence synagogue. Unfortunately for us, as it was the first night of Passover, the store was closed on this particular day leading us on a mad hunt around town for an unleavened bread in any form. I think we tallied in at five different grocery stores before finally stumbling on a box of French matzo crackers, which are round rather than square in shape and have a slightly puffier and chewier texture. No it was not the matzo we had in mind, but it more than did the trick.
  2. Lack of any and all Manischewitz products, particular their sweet cooking wine. In addition to being probably the most infamous and popular libation at Passover tables, this super sugary Kosher red wine is a crucial addition in charoset, giving it a distinct sweet/acidic tang that rounds out the fruity flavor of the apples. Scrambling for alternatives, Emma’s culinary creativity suddenly kicked into hyperdrive and lead to an ingenious creation that blew me away—Chianti wine (the king of Florentine wines) reduced down on the stove with a bit of sugar until becoming a syrup created nearly the same texture and flavor you would get from a traditional Passover sweet wine. Ten points to Emma. Charoset accomplished.
  3. Lack of prayer books and minimal memory of Passover Seder songs.  Fortunately, this was the easiest fix of the bunch given Emma and I’s collective love of all things music. We figured a hefty Motown playlist would suffice just fine.

In light of all the kinks, the Seder surpassed all of our expectations. Emma got her long-desired pasta/tomato/cheese/veggie-filled Italian meal. We both got to indulge in our favorite Passover foods. And, most importantly, we caught up on much needed friend time—and about four hours of post-meal Mad Men on iTunes. Despite being in a foreign place with a language and customs different from our own, we found solace in each other’s company, in my cozy apartment on Via Ricasoli, in old and new traditions, and, most importantly, in matzo—even if it was French. To this day, it remains the best Seder I’ve ever  attended.


— Maddie

Food, Food Artisans

Bakehouse Staff Favorites for Easter

Ever wonder what the Zingerman’s Bakehouse staff absolutely must have for their Easter celebration?

Here’s a quick list of faves from the people who know!

  • Hot Cross Buns. We only get to enjoy these precious treats four days a year and it’s hard to eat just one. Available 4/17-4/20.
  • Summer Fling Coffeecake.  Our lime and toasted coconut bundt cake. Brad from Zingerman’s Mail Order says “It makes me think of white shoes, chiffon dresses and mint juleps”. See Mail Order Easter specials
  • Somodi Kálacs. Hungarian cinnamon swirl bread for Easter. Find out more. Shawna says “Enjoy! We’ll make more.”
  • Brioche. A fluffy buttery bread that makes any brunch better. Try Craquelin, brioche with orange zest and Grand Marnier (Sundays only).
  • Farm bread. One of our favorite breads. Frank says “It makes a mean grilled ham and cheese.”
  • Easter Egg Cookies. Sara says “My kids look forward to getting one in their basket every year”.
  • Cream Pies. Cool key lime with graham crust, piled high coconut cream pie, or chocolate cream with chocolate cookie crust. Randy says “We can’t decide, so I’m getting one of each.”
  • Easter Bunny Cake. The best kind of table centerpiece. One you can eat! See photo
  • Easter Candy. From our friends at Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory. This time of year we all go for the raspberry marshmallow Bunny Tails and PB&J Fudge Eggs.

We’re open 7am-7pm everyday, even Easter Sunday! Give us a call to reserve your must have list. (734)-761-2095.

Food, Food Artisans

Ari Interviews Author Adrian Miller


soul-food-bookOn Tuesday, April 22 at 7pm  Zingerman’s Roadhouse will host a very special dinner with  Adrian Miller, author of Soul Food: The Surprising Story of An American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time. Chef Alex has created a menu direct from the chapters of Soul Food and Adrian will share his knowledge and the history of the foods we’ll be eating at the dinner.


Ari and Adrian recently chatted about the book:

I loved the book.  I think anyone who’s interested in food and history should definitely read it.  Can you give folks a sense of what the book covers?

The book is an edible tour of African American history from West Africa to the American West. Since culinary history can be a vast subject, I thought the best way to tell a concise story was by way of an “anatomy of a meal.” I created a representative soul food meal, and I wrote a chapter on every part of the meal and explain what it is, how it got on the soul food plate and what it means for the culture. In most chapters, I include traditional, health-conscious and fancy recipes. One of my main objectives is that people get in the kitchen and cook soul food.

How do you think this historically accurate description of soul food differs from what the average American thinks about it? 

In my experience, the average American has maybe heard the words “soul food,” but they really don’t know what it is. For those in the know, they think of something boiled for hours, deep fried or gloriously sweet that ultimately is unhealthy eating. It raises the questions the food writer Donna Pierce asked more than a decade ago: Does soul food need a warning label? Others have adopted the narrative that soul food is the master’s unwanted food or leftovers.

 I learned so much from it.  If writing is at all you for you like it is for me, I’m guessing you learned a lot too.  What are some of the learnings that surprised you during the writing? 

Yes, we are kindred spirits, my man! Three big things jump out at me right away. The first surprise is that when I discovered what enslaved African Americans actually ate, the cuisine came close to what we now call “vegan.” They were eating vegetables in season, there was very little meat, and processed foods were a luxury. The second surprise is that, in most situations, master and slave were eating from the same pot. That information completely upends the idea that soul food is slave food. The third surprise is the high-class pedigree of so many soul foods. We tend to think of foods that black people eat as “poverty food” but rich folks were grubbing on it too. Context is important.

You say that the book is a love letter  .. . say more about that? 

Soul food has such a horrible reputation that I believe it causes people to discount the culinary genius of soul food cooks. I thought it was high time that some celebrated these cooks instead of denigrating them.

What are some of the roots of soul food that go back to African culture and cooking?

Jessica B. Harris has done a lot to show the culinary connections between West Africa and the Americas. In terms of the soul food story, we see similar food habits from West Africa replicated here in what would eventually become the United States. Soul food meals usually involve more fish, more green, leafy vegetables and more seasoning with chillis than the typical American meal.

Greens seem particularly important! Can you say a bit more about them? 

West Africans figured out a long time ago that eating green, leafy vegetables were good for you, and that culinary legacy is very strong in soul food cooking. Just as tropical climate bitter greens are consumed in West Africa, temperate climate bitter greens get top billing in soul food circles. The most popular are cabbage, collards, kale, mustard and turnip greens. Now that the mainstream has discovered the nutritional benefits of this food, what used to be called “weeds” when African Americans primarily ate them is now called a “superfood.” When I speak on my book tour, I tell kale lovers “Welcome to the party, black folks have been eating that for at least three centuries.”


As I mentioned earlier, West Africans are big fish eaters. I had no idea that there were species of catfish in West Africa, and that smoked catfish is essential to many stews. Knowing this partly negates the idea that enslaved West Africans arrived to the Americas and were forced to eat completely foreign foods. Now we see that were some things that they would have recognized, thus continuing a West African food tradition in a different part of the world. Anyway, African Americans remain big fish eaters to this day, and catfish is the connoisseur’s choice.

To be clear the life of enslaved people was very, very difficult.  Can you talk more about it and what it meant for people’s cooking and eating?  

Yes, the difficulty for most enslaved people was getting enough food to eat that was edible. Enslaved people were given, on average, a weekly ration of 5 pounds of cornmeal (or some other starch), a couple of pounds of meat that was dried, salted or smoked and a jug of molasses. That’s it. Thus, the enslaved had to figure out how to supplement their diet by fishing, foraging, gardening and hunting  outside of the sunup-to-sundown work schedule. They managed successful strategies to survive, but persistent hunger is a consistent theme in slave narratives.

What about mac and cheese – how that get in there? 

Yes, another surprise because there’s not a lot of dairy in soul food and this is clearly an Italian dish. Though, I must tell you that there are several older African Americans who believe that white people “stole” this dish from us just like they did rock ‘n’ roll. Mac ‘n’ cheese gets onto the soul food plate by way of the African Americans who cooked in the Big House. Mac ‘n’ cheese was royalty food as far back as the 1300s and remained a prestige dish for centuries, ultimately making its way to the American South. When the plantation owners entertained with mac ‘n’ cheese, it was the enslaved cooks who often made the dish. After Emancipation, it became a popular item for Sunday meals and special occasions.

And it sounds like it’s a similar story with pound cake and peach cobbler? 

It is! These desserts are made from ingredients—white flour, white sugar, whole milk–of which enslaved cooks had little access. In the antebellum South, cakes, cobblers and pies were dishes that appeared on African American tables only on the weekends and on special occasions. Just like other high-end dishes, enslaved African Americans were often the ones tasked to do the cooking.

This is your third trip to the Roadhouse to do one of these special dinners.  Excited to be coming back? 

Definitely! I had such a great time when I did my “Black Chefs in the White House” event on the night of President Obama’s first inauguration. It was a lively crowd, and it just an enjoyable evening. The same was true when I did the tribute to street vendors. On each occasion, Chef Alex “put his foot in it” so the food was wonderful.

Some of your research was done here at the Longone collection at U of M on your trips to Ann Arbor.  How was that experience?

The Longone collection is such an incredible resource! For a researching geek like me, it’s akin to going to Disneyland with an E ticket—you can go on any ride through history with the rare cookbooks in that collections. It helped me connect some dots in my research.

How did the Great Migration impact African American cooking? 

I firmly believe that the movement of people from the American South to other parts of the country is the key part of the soul food story, more so than the migration from West Africa. Soul food is really the cuisine of migrants who left a particular part of the South (the Deep South) and tried to recreate home—just as other migrants do. They tried to procure, cook and eat the familiar foods of the South, but when they couldn’t they made substitutions and also picked up a few things from their foreign neighbors. Soul food, at its core, is really a limited repertoire of southern cuisine that draws heavily on the celebration foods of the South.

Your family went west rather than to the north.  Can you give us a bit of your personal history? 

I’m born and raised in the Denver, Colorado area. This information immediately loses me street cred in soul food circles. I win most of them back by sharing that my mother is from Chattanooga, Tennessee and my father is from Helena, Arkansas. My mother followed an older sister to Denver and my father was in the military and came out here because of the Air Force base. They met in church in the late 1960s, and that union brought me into the world. Because I had southern-born parents who embraced the region’s food rather than distancing themselves, I grew up eating soul food.

In reading the book it struck me that nearly every single item you described is either a regular on the Roadhouse menu or appears fairly often as a special.  I realized we actually have a darned good soul food restaurant on our hands!!

Ha! That’s good to know. I believe that if soul food is to survive, it has become accessible. That means people who are not African American need to feel comfortable making and eating this cuisine at home and in restaurants. Some African Americans will have to let go of the notion that white people can’t cook in general, and in particular with this cuisine. I heard that a lot in interviews! Accessibility explains the profound popularity of other ethnic cuisines like Chinese, Italian and Mexican (really Tex-Mex). Much like African Americans, these ethnic groups were at the margins but their food became socially acceptable.

You and I have known each other ten years ever since we met at the Southern Foodways Alliance symposium.  We’re both big believers in the work of the organization.  Can you tell folks a bit about it?

I love the Southern Foodways Alliance! Not only because it celebrates the diverse food cultures of the South, but also because it creates a space for very different people to connect through food. It shows that if we just took a moment to learn more about what we cook and eat, we’ll see that we have a lot more in common than what supposedly divides us.

The weekend of May 31 and June 1 we have our 5th annual Camp Bacon which is a fundraiser for SFA.  Maybe you should come back for it?

I would love that! Dig this, I never went to camp when I was a kid. It would be awesome to go to a really fun camp when I’m an adult!

 What else would you like us to know about Soul Food the book, or the food? 

I want people to understand that soul food deserves much more appreciation that it currently gets. Soul food doesn’t need a warning label…it needs more love. African American cooks belong to a very rich culinary tradition, and I hope that my work is an appetizer for more investigation into this unique heritage.


Food, Food Artisans

This Week at Zingerman’s 4/15/14

blue-cheeseA Night of Blue at Zingerman’s Creamery

Got a case of the blues? Join us on Friday, April 18, 6pm, for an evening of full-flavored blue cheese tasting with Zingerman’s Creamery! Our cheesemongers Ben and Sam tracked down some of the most unique blue cheese our country has to offer. We’d hate for you to miss out and be singing the blues for a whole year!

This event is already full however you can get added to the waitlist below!


Holiday offerings at Zingerman’s Mail Order


Three big holidays are coming up, and Mail Order has the perfect assortment of delicious to compliment your fest!

  • As Passover continues and we have a very nice selection of Passover treats to help make your holiday memorable.
  • Easter is this coming Sunday, and our selection of Easter foods make a nice addition to any table!
  • And if that’s not enough, you can expect to see our special Mother’s Day catalogs arriving very soon featuring all kinds of things that mom will love on her special day!

Roaster-Pick-April-FinalApril Roaster’s Pick at Zingerman’s Coffee Company

We like Burundi Dukorere Ikawa for it’s crisp up-front acidity and hints of savoriness. It has a really pleasant tang that sweetens as it cools. Given the brightness if finishes with a remarkably buttery mouthfeel. This coffee is well suited to individual filter methods, like the Chemex and cone. It also benefits from a slightly finer grind, tastes slightly fruity in an Aeropress and somewhat citrusy in a Syphon.

Stop by for a sample!

chocolate-orange-passover-torteHoliday Treats at Zingerman’s Bakehouse

Don’t forget the Bakehouse when you’re planning your holiday feast!

Passover Specials are available April 1st-30th

  • Macaroons
    Moist creamy coconut centers with a chewy toasted coconut crust, in vanilla bean or dark chocolate varieties. Buy them by the big luscious piece or petite macaroons by the dozen in a handsome gift box. (6 of each flavor in the box).
  • Chocolate Orange Torte
    A Bakehouse Passover classic. A moist layer of chocolate cake made with matzo and ground almonds, flavored with orange oil, glazed with dark chocolate ganache, all surrounded with more toasted almonds. 6” cake. Serves 6-8.
  • Lemon Sponge Cake
    A delightful way to end your Passover feast. Light and lemony sponge cake with lemon curd between the layers and a caramelized meringue exterior. Wheat free too! (made with potato starch)

We’re open Easter Sunday 7am-7pm

  • Easter Egg Cookies
    Egg shaped butter cookies with a hint of fresh citrus zest that are delightfully decorated with our own marbled vanilla fondant. Great in an Easter basket or at each place setting on the dinner table. Available April 1st-20th.
  • Easter Bunny Cake
    Set the scene with this adorable bunny face cake. This is the best kind of centerpiece for your holiday table- fun to look at and delicious to eat. Inside you’ll find soft layers of vanilla chiffon cake and blackberry butter cream, outside vanilla butter cream and a hand-made vanilla fondant bunny face. 6” cake serves 6-10. Available April 1st-20th.
  • Hot Cross Buns
    A traditional treat on Good Friday, a soft yeasted bun made with a bit of potato to keep the dough moist, raisins, currants, candied orange peel and topped with an icing cross. Available April 17th-20th.
  • Somodi Kalács
    (sho-mo-dee-ko-loch) A traditional Hungarian Easter bread we learned to bake in a village in Transylvania on our trip there in 2012. This soft, golden loaf is made with fresh eggs and a sweet buttery cinnamon sugar swirl inside. The smell is amazing. The taste is even better. Enjoy it while you can! Available Fridays thru Sundays, this month only!

Spring Oil Change at Zingerman’s Deli


Our annual olive oil sale gives you a chance to stock up on your favorite olive oils and get great deals on some that you may not have discovered yet. All of the 2011 harvest oils from Italy, Spain, France and California are on sale: buy 1 bottle at 10% off, 2 bottles at 20% off and 3 bottles at 30% off. Look for the 1-2-3 sticker and stock up!

Next week:

Soul Food Dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse

Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time


Please join us Tuesday, April 22, 7pm, for a culinary exploration into the history of American soul food with author Adrian Miller.

In this insightful and eclectic history, Adrian Miller delves into the influences, ingredients, and innovations that make up the soul food tradition. Focusing each chapter on the culinary and social history of one dish–such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, greens, and “red drinks”–Adrian uncovers how it got on the soul food plate and what it means for African American culture and identity. Chef Alex has created a menu direct from the chapters of Soul Food and Adrian will share his knowledge and the history of the foods we will be dining on. Adrian Miller is a writer, attorney, and certified barbecue judge who lives in Denver, Colorado. He has served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, a senior policy analyst for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr., and a Southern Foodways Alliance board member.


speaker-series-speech-bubbleSpeaker Series continues at ZingTrain

Please join us Wednesday, April 23, 730am-930am for another thought-provoking session of the ZingTrain Speaker Series.

This week’s session will feature Stephen Gill, Ph.D,  who is co-owner of Learning2BGreat.com as well as owner and principal of Stephen J. Gill Consulting. Stephen’s subject will be: An Arsenal of A’s.

Here’s why it’s a great idea to listen very closely to what Stephen Gill has to say : he’s worked in the field of Human Performance Improvement for decades. He’s written books about it. He’s based his consulting practice on it. He teaches it. He talks about it. And he’s really, really good at it. In fact, Stephen Gill is the guy to talk to if you want to create a culture of learning in your organization and then get concrete evidence that the culture is resulting in performance improvements.


Featured, Food, Food Artisans

Zingerman’s Peanut Brittle is Award Finalist!


FacebookPost_SofiFinalist2014Nut your average brittle!

We are honored to announce that our fabulous Peanut Brittle is a Specialty Food Association SOFI Awards Silver Finalist in the Confection category! The SOFI Awards are like the Oscars of the specialty food world, and this is like being nominated. We are just so excited!

More about our fabulous Peanut Brittle:

Our latest concoction from the candy kitchen foregrounds the full-flavor of fresh-roasted Jumbo Runner peanuts. “I use cane sugar like everyone else, but we cook to shades of deep gold to bring out all the flavor, and the peanuts are in there long enough to roast perfectly,” notes candyman Charlie Frank.

Once the brittle is cooked, Charlie lays it out on a sheet and waits until it hits exactly the right temperature before pulling it apart. “You want to see bubbles in the mix and when they get to just the right size, you start pulling. Pull too soon and you just get a gooey mess and tiny pieces. Pull too late and you don’t get it to the right thickness. When you pull at just the right time you get the sugar to be that silky, shiny consistency and pieces that shatter when you crunch them.”