Food, Food Artisans

This Week at Zingerman’s 1/27/15

Dr. Betty Brown-Chappell

10th Annual African American Foodways Dinner

Strawberry Lessons and Blueberry Blessings featuring author Betty Brown-Chappell.

Betty Brown-Chappell, author of Open Secrets: A Poor Person’s Life in High Education, comes to the Zingerman’s Roadhouse for our 10th Annual African American Foodways Dinner. Betty’s engaging memoir of her experiences during some of America’s most tumultuous times chronicles her progression into higher education, as well as her passion for food and her experiences as a child farmer. This year’s dinner will take place on Wednesday, January 28, at 7pm. 

As migrants from Texas and Kentucky, Betty’s parents brought with them many recipes from that region, including fruit preserves, biscuits, greens with ham hocks, corn pudding and fruit cobblers. Chef Alex has created a menu for this year’s dinner inspired by the meals prepared by Betty’s parents during her childhood in South Haven, Michigan. Join us as Betty shares her stories and memories of these traditional dishes and the farm, as well as the lessons and experiences from her life.

Reserve your seat here


Home Espresso Class at Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Get the most out of your home espresso machine. On Sunday, Febuary 1st, 1pm, Learn more about what goes into making a cafe quality espresso. We will start with an overview of the “4 Ms” of making espresso, followed by tasting, demonstrations and some hands-on practice. We will also cover some machine maintenance basics as time allows. This is a very interactive workshop and seating is limited to six people.

Reserve your seat here


1st Sunday Creamery Tour

Join our cheese and gelato makers on Sunday, February 1st, 2pm, for an hour long adventure to learn how we transform local milk into delicious cheese and gelato. On this tour, you will observe Mozzarella stretching, as well as experience truly fresh gelato, as well as taste some of our cow’s milk and goat’s milk cheeses while hearing directly from the makers how they are made. After the tour, make time for tasting our selection of American cheeses and provisions, as well as house made gelatos and sorbets in our cheese shop.

Reserve your seat here


Sundae Sundays at Zingermans Creamery

You deserve a treat! Stop by the Creamery for Sundae Sundays! Build your own single scoop gelato Sundae with up to 3 delicious toppings for just $5 (upgrade to a double scoop, add $2). Our amazing toppings include Dulce de Leche, Coop’s Hot Fudge, Hand-chipped chocolate chips, roasted peanuts, roasted pecans, cherries and other fruit toppings, Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory Peanut Brittle, Zzang bars, and much more! Every Sunday in January and February!


Brews, Brats, & The Brinery at Zingerman’s Creamery

Local fermented vegetable luminaries The Brinery make some of the best sauerkraut and pickles around! Paired up with the fresh sausage offerings from Detroit’s own Corridor Sausage Co, we’ll heat up a frosty winter night with amazing sauerkraut, good brews, and tasty brats. Stop by the Creamery on Friday, February 6th, 6pm, for toasty night of belly-warming savory treats!

Reserve your seat here


Mastering Mozzarella at Zingerman’s Creamery

Come and learn the secret to making terrific fresh mozzarella from the experts! Stop by the Creamery on Saturday, February 7, at 2pm, and we’ll show you the ins and outs of making this simple, yet delicious cheese. You’ll learn how to pull balls of fresh mozzarella from curd, stretch string cheese, and create rich, creamy burrata. Perfect on pizza, super on a salad, or amazing on its own, this versatile cheese is as much to make as it is to eat. Adults and children over 12 are welcome. Don’t miss it!

Reserve your seat here


Comparative Cupping at Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Sample coffees from the Africa, Central and South Americas, and the Asian Pacific. We will taste and evaluate these coffees using the techniques and tools used by professional tasters. This is an eye-opening tour of the world of coffee. Sunday, February 8th, 1pm. 

Reserve your seat here


Secret Winter Garden Dinner at Cornman Farms

You might never guess it, but in the depths of winter, we’re growing great things at Cornman Farms! Our hoophouse and greenhouse foster an almost magical array of plants, including microgreens, radish shoots, corn shoots, and sunflower shoots, plus the best spinach and kale you’ll ever taste. On Sunday, February 8th, 4pm, we’ll be featuring these incredible greens for our fourth Farm-to-Fork dinner, complemented with salt-cured whitefish, venison and pork belly, and accompanied by sauerkraut and winter-dug Jerusalem artichokes. Prior to dinner, we’ll hold an optional, interactive presentation with Mark Baerwolf, our Produce Manager, and throw in a warm winter cocktail for your enjoyment. Don’t miss this in-depth look at Cornman Farms’ secret winter garden!

Reserve your seat here


Chocolate Gelato Tasting

Join Zingerman’s Creamery gelato-makers Josh and Guy on a Valentine’s Eve tasty tour of our lovely chocolate gelati offerings. We’ll will try some our all-time favorites like Rocky Ride (hand-made marshmallows & butter-roasted peanuts), Chocolate Turtle (Argentine Dulce de leche & butter-roasted pecans), as well as some newer, more adventurous flavors like Chocolate Balsamic Strawberry (strawberries in a piquant balsamic vinegar syrup) and Stoneground and Smoked (smoked chocolate chunks & toasted almonds). We’ll also provide a couple of unique adult beverages for those that wish to partake, and guests will see how our gelato is made on a tour of the production area with Josh and Guy. Friday, February 13th, 6pm. 

Reserve your seat here


Rum & Chocolate Valentine’s Cocktail Hour – Two Sessions!

There is no better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with rum and chocolate! Come and find out what rum & chocolate have in common. We will taste three hand-selected rums and a special rum concoction, that pair deliciously with chocolate. The perfect complement to a dinner with your sweetheart. Friday, February 13th.

Reserve a seat for the 6-7pm seating

Reserve a seat for the 8-9pm seating


See you soon!

Food, Food Artisans

This Week at Zingerman’s 1/20/15

Manchester from Zingerman's Creamery

Manchester from Zingerman’s Creamery

Cheese Mastery Class #4 at Zingerman’s Creamery

On Friday, January 23, at 6pm, Creamery Managing Partner Aubrey Thomason breaks down the most complex and challenging forms of cheesemaking. Technically known as “semi-lactic,” this cheese is also called soft-ripened or sweet curd cheese. Semi-lactic is a hybrid of the lactic- and rennet-styles of cheesemaking, and the results are delicious and fragrant. Learn about the technical details of the style that gives us our gooey favorites such as Brie, Camembert, and many other mouthwatering varieties of this cheese family.

Reserve your seat here


Mastering Mozzarella at Zingerman’s Creamery

Come and learn the secret to making terrific fresh mozzarella from the experts! Stop by the Creamery on Saturday, January 24, at 2pm, and we’ll show you the ins and outs of making this simple, yet delicious cheese. You’ll learn how to pull balls of fresh mozzarella from curd, stretch string cheese, and create rich, creamy burrata. Perfect on pizza, super on a salad, or amazing on its own, this versatile cheese is as much to make as it is to eat. Adults and children over 12 are welcome. Don’t miss it!

Reserve your seat here


Brewing Methods at Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Learn the keys to successful coffee brewing using a wide variety of brewing methods from filter drip to syphon pot. We will take a single coffee and brew it 6 to 8 different ways, each producing a unique taste. We’ll learn the proper proportions and technique for each and discuss the merits and differences of each style. Sunday, January 23, 1pm.

Reserve your seat here


Sundae Sundays at Zingermans Creamery

You deserve a treat! Stop by the Creamery for Sundae Sundays! Build your own single scoop gelato Sundae with up to 3 delicious toppings for just $5 (upgrade to a double scoop, add $2). Our amazing toppings include Dulce de Leche, Coop’s Hot Fudge, Hand-chipped chocolate chips, roasted peanuts, roasted pecans, cherries and other fruit toppings, Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory Peanut Brittle, Zzang bars, and much more! Every Sunday in January and February!


Iridescence and Zingerman’s Coffee Company Dinner

Zingerman’s Coffee Company is partnering with Iridescence restaurant at the Motor City Casino on Sunday, January 25 at 5pm, to create an amazing coffee and food pairing experience with some of Detroit’s best chefs.
**THIS EVENT TAKES PLACE AT IRIDESCENCE, MOTOR CITY CASINO

From appetizers to dessert, coffee is a great beverage to pair with food. Complex, fruity, acidic or smooth, full-bodied or light, coffee’s many-layered personality makes it a challenging yet oddly obvious partner for a wide range of dishes.

Join us for this unique exploration of coffee and food as chefs from around Detroit attempt to create 7 perfect accompaniments to a variety of coffees and brew methods from Zingermans Coffee Company. Steve Mangigian, Managing Partner and roastmaster at Zingerman’s Coffee Company, will lead a discussion about coffee and share the tasting notes and brewing methods of each coffee served, while the chefs will tell us how they were inspired to create their dishes.

Reserve your seat here*

*By clicking the reservation button, you are leaving the Zingerman’s Community website. The website you are about to visit is solely the responsibility of the merchant or other party providing the site. Any transactions that you enter into with a vendor, merchant or other party that you access through this third-party site are solely between you and that vendor, merchant or other party. We are not responsible for the availability, opinions, products or services that are offered or displayed on other websites.

10th Annual African American Foodways Dinner

Strawberry Lessons and Blueberry Blessings featuring author Betty Brown-Chappell.

Betty Brown-Chappell, author of Open Secrets: A Poor Person’s Life in High Education, comes to the Zingerman’s Roadhouse for our 10th Annual African American Foodways Dinner. Betty’s engaging memoir of her experiences during some of America’s most tumultuous times chronicles her progression into higher education, as well as her passion for food and her experiences as a child farmer. This year’s dinner will take place on Wednesday, January 28, at 7pm. 

As migrants from Texas and Kentucky, Betty’s parents brought with them many recipes from that region, including fruit preserves, biscuits, greens with ham hocks, corn pudding and fruit cobblers. Chef Alex has created a menu for this year’s dinner inspired by the meals prepared by Betty’s parents during her childhood in South Haven, Michigan. Join us as Betty shares her stories and memories of these traditional dishes and the farm, as well as the lessons and experiences from her life.

Reserve your seat here


Home Espresso Class at Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Get the most out of your home espresso machine. On Sunday, Febuary 1st, 1pm, Learn more about what goes into making a cafe quality espresso. We will start with an overview of the “4 Ms” of making espresso, followed by tasting, demonstrations and some hands-on practice. We will also cover some machine maintenance basics as time allows. This is a very interactive workshop and seating is limited to six people.

Reserve your seat here


1st Sunday Creamery Tour

Join our cheese and gelato makers on Sunday, February 1st, 2pm, for an hour long adventure to learn how we transform local milk into delicious cheese and gelato. On this tour, you will observe Mozzarella stretching, as well as experience truly fresh gelato, as well as taste some of our cow’s milk and goat’s milk cheeses while hearing directly from the makers how they are made. After the tour, make time for tasting our selection of American cheeses and provisions, as well as house made gelatos and sorbets in our cheese shop.

Reserve your seat here


Brews, Brats, & The Brinery at Zingerman’s Creamery

Local fermented vegetable luminaries The Brinery make some of the best sauerkraut and pickles around! Paired up with the fresh sausage offerings from Detroit’s own Corridor Sausage Co, we’ll heat up a frosty winter night with amazing sauerkraut, good brews, and tasty brats. Stop by the Creamery on Friday, February 6th, 6pm, for toasty night of belly-warming savory treats!

Reserve your seat here


Mastering Mozzarella at Zingerman’s Creamery

Come and learn the secret to making terrific fresh mozzarella from the experts! Stop by the Creamery on Saturday, February 7, at 2pm, and we’ll show you the ins and outs of making this simple, yet delicious cheese. You’ll learn how to pull balls of fresh mozzarella from curd, stretch string cheese, and create rich, creamy burrata. Perfect on pizza, super on a salad, or amazing on its own, this versatile cheese is as much to make as it is to eat. Adults and children over 12 are welcome. Don’t miss it!

Reserve your seat here

See you soon!

Featured, Food

Remembering Bob Nueske

Zingerman’s was saddened to hear of the loss of our friend, Bob Nueske. To help remember him, we’re reprinting Ari’s interview with Bob from 2013.

In honor of Bob Nueske

This year’s Camp Bacon 2015 is dedicated to the memory of Bob Nueske, much-loved patriarch of the first family of bacon, who died unexpectedly this past January. We’ve had the great pleasure of cooking, serving, and eating Nueske’s bacon every day at Zingerman’s for over thirty years, and we were graced by Bob’s passion, stories and love for pork at Camp Bacon the last two years. Long esteemed by pretty much everyone in the specialty food industry, Bob was intelligent, quiet, and determinedly committed to quality in all he did. He helped take his father’s work to ever greater heights. His love for Johnny Cash was legendary amongst friends and family members. Like his hero he generally wore all black. His soft voice, strong opinions, dedication to perfecting his craft while walking his own way, caring for community and those in need, all combined to lead me to start referring to Bob as a “the Johnny Cash of Bacon.” Two years ago when he spoke at Camp Bacon for the first time, we played Johnny’s version of “I Walk the Line” when Bob came up to the podium. Imagine it playing, if you like, as you start to read the interview with Bob that follows. Done two years ago, it still conveys the powerful character, quality conscious, quiet, but opinionated leader he was in both business and in bacon. - Ari

IMG_2774

Ari and Bob at Camp Bacon 2013


Ari recently had a chance to chat with renowned Wisconsin bacon maker Bob Nueske about the history of his family’s business. Bob will be speaking at Zingerman’s 4th Annual Camp Bacon this summer. Please join us!

pig-sun

Bob Nueske’s great-grandfather came to the small town of Wittenberg, Wisconsin in 1882. Shortly thereafter he started to cure and smoke meats in the style of his German heritage.  Located up near the UP, they’ve been making their bacon using basically the same family recipe for nearly a century and a half now. We’ve cooked off Nueske’s Applewood smoked bacon at the Deli every morning for over 31 years now. I have no idea how many tens of thousands of pounds it adds up to but I know it’s a lot. That record, like the bacon on which it’s based, is something special.  So too is the man behind the bacon—Bob Nueske is a marvelous story teller, a very grounded and forward thinking business man, a “Small Giant” long before Bo Burlingham wrote the book, a master bacon maker and a bacon lover.  We’re excited to have successfully enticed Bob to leave northern Wisconsin for the wilds of Ann Arbor and a few days at Camp Bacon. 

Ari:  Can you tell me a bit of the Nueske story?

Bob:  I hardly know how to begin. When you’re born and raised into something that becomes your life it’s hard to know where to start. The only way I can explain it is that if you’re born in a cooler and raised in a smokehouse it permeates into your being and you don’t even realize it. I’ve been part of Nueske bacon literally my whole life. And when you are born and raised in a family business, working as a father and son it makes a special situation. I had a good father. He smiled a lot. He was a good man and a good businessman. He was really firm and fair. And yet as a kid, you know, when you’re 16, 17, 18, and you have all the answers . . . when I was 16 years old . . . . Well, I’ll you a story.  Back when I was 16 I had a car. Back then Wittenberg was a town of 895 people (Today, it’s totally taken off—the 2010 census said it had 1081 people). It’s all a farm community. I figured the best way for me to see the world was to head down to Chicago on my own. So I drove south. I got downtown by myself. I’d never been there. I was looking at all these great big buildings and I noticed there were a whole lot of good restaurants. But I couldn’t afford to eat in em. And I thought to myself, I’d love to understand ‘em. Now, who’d have ever thought that bacon would take you to places like that? But today our bacon is in some of the best restaurants and stores in the country. As I remember growing up, my dad had put four hours in at work by the time we kids got up in the morning. We were always eating the odd shaped pieces he didn’t want to sell to other people. My mother would say, “I’m married to the man who has the best bacon, but you always bring home the other stuff!” He’d say, “We don’t sell those odd cuts, we eat em. It tastes the same. It just don’t look the same!” We have some pictures of me sitting on a truck with three birthday candles. When you’re little it seems like your parents are doing things you could never do. Then you get to the age when you think, “They don’t know anything.” But then eventually you realize that things that seemed big aren’t that big, they aren’t that important. And I realized that my dad knew what he was doing. In learning how to do a product like my dad taught us it was time consuming and it wasn’t like I took notes. Day in and day out you learn it and you don’t even know you’re learning it. But my dad had these little books that he used.  And they weren’t just sitting on the shelf. They were well read, well worn. And he would take a lot of notes. My dad was a good student of bacon. Making bacon like ours is like making fine wine. You don’t hurry the process. I remember him saying, “You know Bobby, we do it this way because of . . . . ., but, not this way because . . . ” There were good reasons why each piece of the process happened. I remember thinking “There has to be a faster quicker way to make bacon!” But eventually I realized that he really knew what he was doing.

Where did your grandfather come from?

He was from Germany. I’m still trying to figure out exactly where. I got drafted into the military got my medical training at Ft. Sam Houston and thought for sure I was headed for Vietnam. It was not a pretty time. But somehow I was the only one in our class that ended up stationed in Germany. So through a fluke of luck I learned the heritage of the meat. My great grandfather came to Wisconsin in 1882. Wilhelm Nueske. I’m still trying to find out what town he came from. No one really knows. We know it’s German heritage. I’m starting to discover that it was up in the northeast area of Germany and what’s now Poland.  There are still some Nueskes up there. It’s not that common a name. I literally know most everyone of them in this country. After I went through the military I went into the printing press business for a while. But then I came back to smoking meats and I began to experiment a little on my own, I realized that speeding things up, going fast just creates another me-too product. Volume and big is not what we’re after at Nueske’s. We don’t want to be the biggest. One of the best words I’ve learned over all these years is, “No.” When we’re approached by certain companies to sell to them we look at how they actually run their business. A lot of times I can see that we’re not large enough to produce enough for them so we say, “No.”

Speaking of which, you and I both read a lot of business books.  Were there any that were particularly helpful to you?

I was remembering a book called Beyond World Class. It’s by Ross Alan. It was written about the way I think a business should be run. It said that if your suppliers don’t treat you like you wanted to be treated, and if someone in your company or a customer doesn’t fit the way you want to work, then you just say, “We’re not interested.” You just don’t stay with them. You need to work with people who care like you do and who want to work the way you do. That’s a recipe for how to have fun while you’re running your company. You enjoy your relationship with everyone and you work with a great group of people. It takes work to keep it that way. But growing up in a company like ours . .  . well, you know .  . . When I left the family business at 18 I had two really good experiences. One was in a small printing company. And then I was wooed away to American Can Company. It was a huge corporation. I actually got that feeling of putting your brains up on the time clock when you punched in. They didn’t want your thoughts. And then you picked them up when you left. They didn’t want you to think. I learned I could get done 8 hours work in 3 hours and kept pushin’. But then I was told “Don’t do that again.” People that work here like what they do and they’re having fun. That’s the key. Many an outsider looking in at our company goes by and says, “How do you do this?  How do you get your culture?” At first they think it was a trick, like when you used to go to Russia and they put on a stage Grand Tour to fool you. But after a while, the visitors realize there’s no “Grand Tour.” That’s the key. What your people do. How they smile. How they work. That’s what makes a great company. It just seems to work.

We love your bacon here at Zingerman’s.  It’s gotten great press in the New York Times and just about everywhere else.  What makes the bacon so great?

Well, what really makes the difference how the hogs are fed. How they’re grown. How they’re treated as far as stress. You don’t want stress in the hogs. You have to find companies who know how to slaughter and cut and sort correctly. And then how you cure and smoke the meat properly. We taste test constantly. Even though there are strict formulas, there’s still always the human side. If something doesn’t seem right when we taste the product we pull it off. We all know that our bacon is a natural product and the whole production system can run a little off one way or another. Pretty much it means the standards of where you want it to be even though the flavor profile never changes. Something comes in wrong and you have to make a point and send it back.  Consistency is key. Don’t accept anything that’s less than what you really want. Our hogs are raised in Canada. They’re the Belgian Pietrain breed and some others. We cure the bellies and then give them 24 hours in the smoker. We use real Wisconsin Applewood. We actually have one man who’s responsible to select the Applewood. We buy full trees, not wood already cut in pieces.  He actually cuts it as we need it. When you select the wood it has to be the right balance of dryness and greenness. Not too dry, not too green. We use wild Cherrywood and it’s the same thing there. We start with a full tree. We’re fortunate . . . when I think back when my grandparents moved here, we’re fortunate that they picked an area with so many apple and cherry orchards. bacon-strip-from-RH-mural

It’s pretty impressive that Nueske’s has stayed small and focused for four generations.  Why do you think it’s worked so well?

Let me tell you another story. There’s a man around here who started a very large nationally known meat curing company around the time my father was getting going. He and my dad knew each other pretty well. The companies were just about 45 miles a part. Our location was on a dead end street. We didn’t really have a retail store. We just were wholesaler but my dad would let people in when they knocked on the door. Finally he put in a tiny little counter. Anyways, Fritz would come in to that little counter and buy our bacon and smoked liver sausage. “I said why are you buying our bacon when you have your own?” He said, “I want to buy the good stuff for our big shots coming up to my cottage up north.” “Well, Fritz is probably in his 70s now. He came in one day quite a few years ago now and he asks one of the retail clerks in our shop, if I was there.  I asked him the same question I would ask every time he came back when I was 14. “What are you doing buying bacon here?” And he said the same thing he said back then: “I’m going up to my cabin and need the good stuff.” But then he said, “I want to tell you a story about your dad and me. You know, I would tell your dad, ‘Robert, I’m gonna build the biggest meat company I can. And your dad would look at me and say, ‘Well Fritz, I’m gonna become the best meat company I can become.’” Then Fritz said to me, “I succeeded.  I sold out to a big company. I made a lot of money. But I don’t like what the big company did with our products. And you know what? Your dad was right and I was wrong. I would never do that again.” When I think of the decisions I’ve made over the years. You gotta know when to say ‘No!’

What’s your favorite way to eat bacon?

I love it best when you lay it on parchment paper and bake it in the oven. It comes out sort of crispy and soft in the middle. I love it that way.

See you at camp!

Food, Food Artisans

Ari Interviews Betty Brown-Chappell

Dr. Betty Brown-Chappell is our special guest at this year’s 10th Annual African American Foodways Dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse on Wednesday, Janury 28 at 7pm. Don’t miss it! 

Dr. Betty Brown-Chappell

Dr. Betty Brown-Chappell

One of the things I love about living in this community is that we have such a plethora of powerfully creative, inspiring, intelligent individuals who are so willing to share of themselves and their life’s learnings. Being around great people, people who are willing to follow their own path, to speak their minds in caring and constructive ways, to work hard to make a positive difference in the community and the world is, in itself, energizing. The difference that these special people have made and are making inspires me learn and contribute more every day! 

Dr. Betty Brown-Chappell is one of those people. Her teaching, writing and community work are all inspirations for the rest
of us. She has worked hard making her own way in the world, fighting through racial barriers, glass ceilings and the disadvantages that come with growing up poor where access and resources are so often limited. 

This year we’re excited to have Dr. Brown-Chappell as the speaker at our tenth annual African American foodways dinner at the Roadhouse. The event will celebrate Dr. Brown-Chappell’s recent release of her book, Open Secrets: A Poor Person’s Life in Higher Education. Chef Alex Young has crafted a menu that pays homage to her country roots—she grew up in a farm family near South Haven. “Strawberry Lessons and Blueberry Blessings” will pull from some of the food stories in Dr. Brown-Chappell’s book as we continue to pay homage to the great culinary contribution of the African American community in this U.S. The dinner will combine good food, good conversation and stories and insights from Dr. Brown-Chappell. We hope you can join us to pay homage to her work, and to the foodways of the African American farm community. Below is a bit of an interview I did with Dr. Brown-Chappell. Hopefully it leaves you hungry for more! Hope to see you at the Roadhouse on January 28th!    - Ari

Ari: Can you tell us a bit about your new book, Open Secrets: A Poor Person’s Life in Higher Education?

Dr. Betty Brown-Chappell: It is a memoir of my experiences as an African American woman during some of America’s most tumultuous times – 1946 to present.

Because I want to be part of the solution to the problem of low graduation rates for those who, like me, may be the first in their family to attend or graduate from college and who may come from a low-income background I also provide some lessons I have learned in higher education. I have also tried to provide some of the hard-fought lessons I learned during my journey for folks in high school, college or graduate school; families, friends and counselors may also learn from these lessons.

You grew up in southwestern Michigan. What was that like?

The area was very rural – you might say “rough and tumble.” We did not have lights, indoor sanitation, or running water for much of my early childhood years; we lived on a dirt road. Also, the predominantly white population was at times violently racist. As a young child I was physically assaulted on the playground and taunted with racial epitaphs. There was even an instance where some neighbors set a fire in our backyard. Over many years our white neighbors and schoolmates stopped the violence.

Most Americans know little about the story of African American farmers in this country. It’s been a very difficult road – sadly there are so few African Americans still farming. Can you tell us more about that?

The African American families that I knew in the southwestern part of Michigan during my childhood generally farmed part-time. My father and his friends often worked in light industrial jobs that supported the automobile industry. Once they completed an eight-hour shift at the foundry, then they returned to their farms to work for several hours. Like most of the women in the area my mother was a housewife with a large broods of children, eight, to care for.

I learned in 2013 that my parents were part of the 70,000 farmers of color who were discriminated against by federal and local loan practices. Farm loans had been subsidized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for many decades, but Black farmers were systematically excluded from the benefits of federal banking policy. In 2012 over a billion dollars was offered to repay these farmers, yet with our parents deceased no one in the family knew that we should apply for the reparations. Taken together with the trend to concentrate farming into large corporate entities, this historic discrimination in loan practices effectively prevented many African Americans from operating viable farms in today’s economy. This is a simplified version of the many obstacles African American farmers have experienced.

In your book you have chapters titled “Strawberry Lessons” and “Blueberry Blessings.” Tell us more.

Virtually no day goes by without news media that bemoan the loss of the middle-class. The African American families of my childhood who entered the middle class were able to do so not only because they worked day and night for what proved to be a living wage, but also because they were very frugal. They literally learned to spin straw into gold! These two chapters recount my family’s dependence on and gratitude for access to the lower-middle class due to the yield’s of these two crops. My experiences as a child farm worker led me to be an optimist: many things are possible with creativity and hard work. I also learned to enjoy and appreciate the nutrients provided by fresh foods. I can’t wait until it’s time to plant my backyard vegetable garden next spring!

Can you share a few of the lessons that you have learned?

Two lessons have been particularly important to both me and to my students at Eastern Michigan University: (1) To complete a degree you need support. Friends and family regardless of your financial situation will be important, but be grateful to whoever provides you with support. (2) Mentors can make or break the student who seeks a degree; students should seek them out, treat them with respect, and allow them to provide guidance.

What is the struggle of “twoness” that you mention?

This idea originally was used to describe the experience of Jewish citizens as they attempted to “melt” into the American culture. Black scholars built on the concept to mean “ . . . blacks operate with a “twoness” of behavior where one uses knowledge, manners, dress, and verbal cadences of the dominant culture to navigate in professional situations . . . while one alternatively speaks, acts, and dresses appropriate to the Black world where one most likely passes all non-professional time.”

Throughout your life – life most African Americans—you have experienced bias and prejudice. Can you reflect on that?

A student recently asked me which of the three types of discrimination that I have experienced, classism, racism, or sexism has presented the greatest obstacle for me. My answer was classism because I have done without the necessities of life – that is experienced poverty – as a child and young adult. To me poverty is largely intransient in America and is no longer an “in” topic for civic discussion. Yet child poverty among the innocents, young children, will dictate their life chances in many ways during adulthood. Classism also means that large swaths of our society who have means stick together, help each other out or trade favors. But the poor have a lot less to help each other with.

The menu this year will reflect a lot of the diet that you grew up with in South Haven, MI. What was the food like in your childhood?

We lived in an area with an abundance of wildlife such as pheasants and rabbits that my father shot and my mother served for dinner. Probably what offset our extreme poverty (besides the assistance of relatives) was that we generally had adequate nutrition such as fresh or canned fruits and vegetables from our farm. While our protein sources were also the pigs, cows, and chickens we raised we also ate a lot of navy beans. As migrants from Texas and Kentucky my parents brought many recipes from that region: sweet potato pie, candied yams, corn pudding, or fruit cobblers. My father was a cook in the Navy during WW II and he insisted that we have fish once a week. Seafood was a rare treat. Some of the foods they favored such as fried okra or rhubarb pie I have never been able to stomach…

See you at the Dinner

Featured, Food

This Week at Zingerman’s 1/13/15

gelato drawing

Sundae Sundays at Zingermans Creamery

You deserve a treat! Stop by the Creamery for Sundae Sundays! Build your own single scoop gelato Sundae with up to 3 delicious toppings for just $5 (upgrade to a double scoop, add $2). Our amazing toppings include Dulce de Leche, Coop’s Hot Fudge, Hand-chipped chocolate chips, roasted peanuts, roasted pecans, cherries and other fruit toppings, Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory Peanut Brittle, Zzang bars, and much more! Every Sunday in January and February!


Good-a Gouda Tasting at Zingerman’s Creamery

Gouda is one of the world’s most popular and least-understood cheeses. We’ve selected our favorite Goudas of 2014 and gathered them together for a celebration of this wonderful cheese. Take a guided tour with one of our cheesemongers through a brief history of this famed Dutch curd, and taste delicious Gouda of all different ages, both domestic and imported. Friday, January 16, 6pm. 

Reserve your seat here


It’s Gin-uary Cocktail Class at Cornman Farms

Gin is herbaceous and floral, warming and refreshing, and can be served in both sweet and savory libations. Join us on Friday, January 16, 7pm, as we focus on the wintry and robust side of this centuries-old spirit as we mix three seasonally appropriate gin cocktails. We’ll start with the hearty Negroni, a classic born in Italy in 1920; then we’ll embrace a new herbal twist on an old favorite with the Rosemary Gimlet; and we’ll end the class with a sweet and satisfying Spiced Pear Fizz. You’ll mix your own cocktails, enjoy hearty appetizers prepared by the Cornman Farms chefs, and then leave with recipes and the know-how to make these cocktails at home.

Reserve your seat here


Brewing Methods at Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Learn the keys to successful coffee brewing using a wide variety of brewing methods from filter drip to syphon pot. We will take a single coffee and brew it 6 to 8 different ways, each producing a unique taste. We’ll learn the proper proportions and technique for each and discuss the merits and differences of each style. Sunday, January 18 or 23, 1pm.

Reserve a seat for January 18

Reserve a seat for janury 23


Cheese Mastery Class #4 at Zingerman’s Creamery

On Friday, January 23, at 6pm, Creamery Managing Partner Aubrey Thomason breaks down the most complex and challenging forms of cheesemaking. Technically known as “semi-lactic,” this cheese is also called soft-ripened or sweet curd cheese. Semi-lactic is a hybrid of the lactic- and rennet-styles of cheesemaking, and the results are delicious and fragrant. Learn about the technical details of the style that gives us our gooey favorites such as Brie, Camembert, and many other mouthwatering varieties of this cheese family.

Reserve your seat here


Mastering Mozzarella at Zingerman’s Creamery

Come and learn the secret to making terrific fresh mozzarella from the experts! Stop by the Creamery on Saturday, January 24, at 2pm, and we’ll show you the ins and outs of making this simple, yet delicious cheese. You’ll learn how to pull balls of fresh mozzarella from curd, stretch string cheese, and create rich, creamy burrata. Perfect on pizza, super on a salad, or amazing on its own, this versatile cheese is as much to make as it is to eat. Adults and children over 12 are welcome. Don’t miss it!

Reserve your seat here


Iridescence and Zingerman’s Coffee Company Dinner

Zingerman’s Coffee Company is partnering with Iridescence restaurant at the Motor City Casino on Sunday, January 25 at 5pm, to create an amazing coffee and food pairing experience with some of Detroit’s best chefs.
**THIS EVENT TAKES PLACE AT IRIDESCENCE, MOTOR CITY CASINO

From appetizers to dessert, coffee is a great beverage to pair with food. Complex, fruity, acidic or smooth, full-bodied or light, coffee’s many-layered personality makes it a challenging yet oddly obvious partner for a wide range of dishes.

Join us for this unique exploration of coffee and food as chefs from around Detroit attempt to create 7 perfect accompaniments to a variety of coffees and brew methods from Zingermans Coffee Company. Steve Mangigian, Managing Partner and roastmaster at Zingerman’s Coffee Company, will lead a discussion about coffee and share the tasting notes and brewing methods of each coffee served, while the chefs will tell us how they were inspired to create their dishes.

Reserve your seat here*

*By clicking the reservation button, you are leaving the Zingerman’s Community website. The website you are about to visit is solely the responsibility of the merchant or other party providing the site. Any transactions that you enter into with a vendor, merchant or other party that you access through this third-party site are solely between you and that vendor, merchant or other party. We are not responsible for the availability, opinions, products or services that are offered or displayed on other websites.

10th Annual African American Foodways Dinner

Strawberry Lessons and Blueberry Blessings featuring author Betty Brown-Chappell.

Betty Brown-Chappell, author of Open Secrets: A Poor Person’s Life in High Education, comes to the Zingerman’s Roadhouse for our 10th Annual African American Foodways Dinner. Betty’s engaging memoir of her experiences during some of America’s most tumultuous times chronicles her progression into higher education, as well as her passion for food and her experiences as a child farmer. This year’s dinner will take place on Wednesday, January 28, at 7pm. 

As migrants from Texas and Kentucky, Betty’s parents brought with them many recipes from that region, including fruit preserves, biscuits, greens with ham hocks, corn pudding and fruit cobblers. Chef Alex has created a menu for this year’s dinner inspired by the meals prepared by Betty’s parents during her childhood in South Haven, Michigan. Join us as Betty shares her stories and memories of these traditional dishes and the farm, as well as the lessons and experiences from her life.

Reserve your seat here


See you soon!

Food, Food Artisans

This Week at Zingerman’s 1/6/15

brewery vivant

Brewery Vivant Beer & Cheese Tasting at Zingerman’s Creamery

Jason Spaulding was one of the founders of New Holland Brewing Company back in 1997. Following his heart, he left and enrolled in the Doemens Brewing Academy in Munich. He returned to the states, worked for a year as the Bar Manager at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, then headed west again to found Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids. Jason Spaulding is a revolutionary brewer with a passion for sour beers and other unique styles, and his reputation is growing. Join us to learn more about Brewery Vivant, and taste their unique selection of brews along with our own Creamery cheese and accoutrements. Friday, January 9, 6pm.

Reserve your seat here


Home Espresso Class at Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Get the most out of your home espresso machine. On Sunday, January 11, 1pm, learn more about what goes into making a cafe quality espresso. We will start with an overview of the “4 Ms” of making espresso, followed by tasting, demonstrations and some hands-on practice. We will also cover some machine maintenance basics as time allows.This is a very interactive workshop and seating is limited to six people.

Reserve your seat here


Sundae Sundays at Zingermans Creamery

You deserve a treat! Stop by the Creamery for Sundae Sundays! Build your own single scoop gelato Sundae with up to 3 delicious toppings for just $5 (upgrade to a double scoop, add $2). Our amazing toppings include Dulce de Leche, Coop’s Hot Fudge, Hand-chipped chocolate chips, roasted peanuts, roasted pecans, cherries and other fruit toppings, Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory Peanut Brittle, Zzang bars, and much more! Every Sunday in January and February!


Good-a Gouda Tasting at Zingerman’s Creamery

Gouda is one of the world’s most popular and least-understood cheeses. We’ve selected our favorite Goudas of 2014 and gathered them together for a celebration of this wonderful cheese. Take a guided tour with one of our cheesemongers through a brief history of this famed Dutch curd, and taste delicious Gouda of all different ages, both domestic and imported. Friday, January 16, 6pm. 

Reserve your seat here


It’s Gin-uary Cocktail Class at Cornman Farms

Gin is herbaceous and floral, warming and refreshing, and can be served in both sweet and savory libations. Join us on Friday, January 16, 7pm, as we focus on the wintry and robust side of this centuries-old spirit as we mix three seasonally appropriate gin cocktails. We’ll start with the hearty Negroni, a classic born in Italy in 1920; then we’ll embrace a new herbal twist on an old favorite with the Rosemary Gimlet; and we’ll end the class with a sweet and satisfying Spiced Pear Fizz. You’ll mix your own cocktails, enjoy hearty appetizers prepared by the Cornman Farms chefs, and then leave with recipes and the know-how to make these cocktails at home.

Reserve your seat here


Brewing Methods at Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Learn the keys to successful coffee brewing using a wide variety of brewing methods from filter drip to syphon pot. We will take a single coffee and brew it 6 to 8 different ways, each producing a unique taste. We’ll learn the proper proportions and technique for each and discuss the merits and differences of each style. Sunday, January 18 or 23, 1pm.

Reserve a seat for January 18

Reserve a seat for janury 23


Cheese Mastery Class #4 at Zingerman’s Creamery

On Friday, January 23, at 6pm, Creamery Managing Partner Aubrey Thomason breaks down the most complex and challenging forms of cheesemaking. Technically known as “semi-lactic,” this cheese is also called soft-ripened or sweet curd cheese. Semi-lactic is a hybrid of the lactic- and rennet-styles of cheesemaking, and the results are delicious and fragrant. Learn about the technical details of the style that gives us our gooey favorites such as Brie, Camembert, and many other mouthwatering varieties of this cheese family.

Reserve your seat here


Mastering Mozzarella at Zingerman’s Creamery

Come and learn the secret to making terrific fresh mozzarella from the experts! Stop by the Creamery on Saturday, January 24, at 2pm, and we’ll show you the ins and outs of making this simple, yet delicious cheese. You’ll learn how to pull balls of fresh mozzarella from curd, stretch string cheese, and create rich, creamy burrata. Perfect on pizza, super on a salad, or amazing on its own, this versatile cheese is as much to make as it is to eat. Adults and children over 12 are welcome. Don’t miss it!

Reserve your seat here


10th Annual African American Foodways Dinner

Strawberry Lessons and Blueberry Blessings featuring author Betty Brown-Chappell.

Betty Brown-Chappell, author of Open Secrets: A Poor Person’s Life in High Education, comes to the Zingerman’s Roadhouse for our 10th Annual African American Foodways Dinner. Betty’s engaging memoir of her experiences during some of America’s most tumultuous times chronicles her progression into higher education, as well as her passion for food and her experiences as a child farmer. This year’s dinner will take place on Wednesday, January 28, at 7pm. 

As migrants from Texas and Kentucky, Betty’s parents brought with them many recipes from that region, including fruit preserves, biscuits, greens with ham hocks, corn pudding and fruit cobblers. Chef Alex has created a menu for this year’s dinner inspired by the meals prepared by Betty’s parents during her childhood in South Haven, Michigan. Join us as Betty shares her stories and memories of these traditional dishes and the farm, as well as the lessons and experiences from her life.

Reserve your seat here


See you soon!