Food, Food Artisans

This Week at Zingerman’s 10/7/14

WSFM

Westside Farmers’ Market Fundraiser Dinner at Cornman Farms

The Westside Farmers’ Market proudly brings amazing farm fresh food to Ann Arbor’s Westside every Thursday afternoon. The Roadhouse and Cornman Farms support this community event annually with a celebratory fall harvest dinner. This support has and will continue to grow the offerings available every summer. Please show your support and join us on Tuesday, October 14, 7pm.

James Beard award-winning Chef Alex Young has created a menu featuring the beautifully grown produce from Westside’s vendors. We invite you to partake in the harvest with them at the peak of the season with a fresh fundraising dinner.

Reserve your seat here


Intro to Zingerman’s Cornman Farms

Join us Thursday, October 9, 530pm and enjoy a fascinating introduction to Cornman Farms’ rich history, agricultural projects and humane raising of animals. We’ll even throw in a taste of one of our seasonal vegetables!

Reserve your seat here


French Wine & Cheese Tasting at Zingerman’s Events on 4th

Join our team of Deli cheese and wine lovers on Wednesday, October 15, 630pm, and explore the flavors of Eastern France. From Alsace to the Jura and straight to the Mediterranean. From Metz to Monaco we will taste our way along the border. Five French Cheese selections will be accompanied by regionally appropriate wines and small plated pairings.

Reserve your seat here


ZingTrain Speaker Series: Megan Torrence

Megan Torrance is on a mission to make your projects better. On time. In budget. What They Need (even if that changes … because you know it will).
In this session of the Speaker Series, we’ll dive in deep on what it takes to manage projects where the underlying need and the desired result change on a regular basis. Megan and the team at TorranceLearning have adapted the principles of Agile project management from the software world to suit any project. She’ll share why the team’s projects needed to move from a neat and orderly progression of predefined steps to a process that expects and accepts change along the way (hint: it involved bleeding cash). Join us Wednesday, October 15, 8am. 

Reserve your seat here


Intro to Zingerman’s Cornman Farms

Join us Wednesday, October 15, 530pm and enjoy a fascinating introduction to Cornman Farms’ rich history, agricultural projects and humane raising of animals. We’ll even throw in a taste of one of our seasonal vegetables!

Reserve your seat here


American Cheese Tasting at Zingerman’s Creamery

Stop by Zingerman’s Creamery on Friday, October 17, 6pm, as we celebrate Award-Winning American Cheeses! We’ll taste our way through a wonderfully varied collection of the winners of the American Cheese Society Competition over the past few years. From three-time Best in Show winner Pleasant Ridge Reserve, to our very own Detroit Street Brick, we’ll see why the American cheese industry is producing some of the best fermented curd available. Don’t miss it!

Reserve your seat here


New Buyers Guide and Holiday Staff Positions at Zingerman’s Mail Order

Too early? Nah! It’s never too soon to start planning holiday gifts for distant family and friends. That’s why we’re sending our our Early Bird Catalog of delectable holiday gift ideas now. These catalogs should be arriving in homes very soon!

The other big news is that Zingerman’s Mail Order is hiring holiday staff! We’ve posted several positions on our Jobs site and we’re taking applications now! Apply today!


Brewing Methods Class at Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Learn the keys to successful coffee brewing using a wide variety of brewing methods from filter drip to the 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. Stop by Sunday, October 19, 1pm!

Reserve your seat here


Intro to Zingerman’s Cornman Farms

Join us Monday, October 20, 530pm and enjoy a fascinating introduction to Cornman Farms’ rich history, agricultural projects and humane raising of animals. We’ll even throw in a taste of one of our seasonal vegetables!

Reserve your seat here


Zingtrain Speaker Series: Robert Wright

Dr. Bob Wright believes in engaging in life to maximize adventure and encounter versions of our selves that we had never imagined possible. Not surprisingly, the people he coaches and trains see him as a master agent of empowerment—a trump card in their lives. In fact, Dr.Bob believes that each and every one of us has potential beyond anything we’ve ever imagined.
In this session of the Speaker Series, Dr. Bob will tell you that the most powerful way to look at leadership is not in terms of the people we lead, but in terms of our selves – who we are, how authentic we are and who we want to be. In other words, to look at leadership from the inside out, to look at how it transforms our lives. He calls it Transformational Leadership and in this session he’ll lead us through an exploration of the adventures, opportunities and markers of Transformational Leadership.
In classic Dr.Bob style, be prepared for a session that is highly interactive, involves some “real juicy” (Dr. Bob’s words!) conversations and an epiphany or two! Wednesday, October 22, 8am.

Reserve your seat here


8th Annual Halloween Hootenanny at Zingerman’s Deli

The Hootenanny is a fall-themed, Zingerman’s style celebration for kids. Thursday, October 23, 4-7pm will be a fun evening of Halloween treats and activities! There will be Pumpkin Drawing, Kooky Cookie Decorating and more! Whether you’re meeting to share costumes and a play date or just stopping by on your way home from school, we welcome you to stop by and play for a while! You’ll enjoy music and complimentary snacks as you participate at your own pace. And don’t worry about dinner that night; we’ll have a tasty hot dog dinner, along with cider & donuts available for purchase. Costumes are not required, but they are encouraged!

Tickets are $5 in advance, $8 at the door.

Reserve your seat here


Cheese Mastery Class: Lactic Cheeses

Join Creamery managing partner Aubrey Thomason for the third class in a series exploring the foundations of cheese. In this session, Aubrey will talk about the simplest (and most difficult to master!) form of cheesemaking: lactic cheeses. Lactic cheeses are made using little or no rennet to help firm them up. Instead, the lactic cheesemaking process relies on the natural progression of milk lactose into lactic acid, which then binds the proteins together to form curd. This process takes much longer, but the results can be stellar. This is the process that gives both Cream Cheese, as well as our delicious Lincoln Log. Join us on Saturday, October 25, 1pm, as we discuss the chemistry behind lactic cheese, and tasting the various cheeses made using this process.

Reserve your seat here


Coffee and Food Pairings at Zingerman’s Coffee Company

You may be familiar with wine and cheese pairings, but why not a coffee and food pairing? Here at the Coffee Co, we’ll be taking some of our favorite coffees and tasting them with some foods to find the best combination. Great for the coffee and food connoisseur who wants to try something different. Class is limited to 10 people, so sign up quick. Sunday, October 26, 1pm.

Reserve your seat here


Garlic Harvest Lunch at Cornman Farms

Join us for an informative, delicious lunch prepared at Zingerman’s Cornman Farms, featuring one of our favorite fall treats – the versatile and celebrated garlic! At this tour/meal event, you’ll spend time with Farmer Mark Baerwolf, learning about his passion for the history of garlic and for our sustainable garlic planting and harvesting practices. You’ll taste several varieties of Cornman Farms’ garlic and enjoy a lunch consisting of several small plates inspired by the garlic harvest. We’ll even send you home with a few garlic varieties for eating or planting! Sunday, October 26, 11am.

Reserve your seat here


Intro to Zingerman’s Cornman Farms

Join us Monday, October 27, 530pm and enjoy a fascinating introduction to Cornman Farms’ rich history, agricultural projects and humane raising of animals. We’ll even throw in a taste of one of our seasonal vegetables!

Reserve your seat here


9th Annual Vampires’ Ball Cornman Farms

Vampires’ Ball is a festive, upscale gathering benefiting Food Gatherers Community Kitchen and Job Training Program. For the first time, Vampires’ Ball will take place at the newly opened Zingerman’s Cornman Farms, a working farm and premier event venue. Guests enjoy a multi-course meal prepared by award-winning Chef Alex Young in the historic farmhouse. Dinner is followed by a night of drinks, dancing and treats in the renovated barn—the perfect setting for Washtenaw County’s best Halloween party! Wednesday, October 29, 6pm.

Reserve your seat here

See you soon!

Food, Food Artisans

Following Comté from Fromagerie No. 25 to Fort St. Antoine

Fromagerie No. 25
Frutière a Comté des Hospitaux Vieux
Place de la Marie

Sebastian Muller

Sebastian Muller

The truck leaves at 3 am to collect milk from ten producers across three villages. Each farmer has about forty Montbeliard cows. This pickup run is called Ramassage. The old method, called La Coulée, where producers delivered their own milk, is practiced by at just a few frutières of the thirty-four in the area. By AOC rules, the milk must be processed within twenty-four hours. May is the big milk month.

Fromagerie No. 25, built in 1920, is run by one man, Sebastian Muller. He makes twelve wheels a day seven days a week, using 1.6 million liters of milk per year. It’s about average for a cheese maker that delivers to Marcel Petite, but small in the scheme of things. A big Comté fruitiere makes 5 times as much. The work for the cheese maker, like that for cheese makers everywhere, is endless. Sebastian can arrange for a few days off only if he reroutes his milk to another fromagerie, or gets another cheese maker to substitute for him. He extended his wet arm for us to shake. He works very fast, with few words to us. He’s probably not used to company.

The milk truck is hooked up outside in the small parking lot on the hill overlooking the valley. It has a long hose and the milk is pumped in. Inside, where things are wet and smell sweetly ammoniated, the milk isheated by a radiator and delivered to one of two big copper vats. Rennet is added, curds form, and Sebastian cuts them with a rectangular wire mesh, kind of like a big hard boiled egg slicer. This releases water. The temperature raises to 55 C, drying and cooking the curd. When the curd passes the test—the cheesemaker puts his hand in and no curd sticks to it—it’s ready to pump overhead into the cheese molds.

Comté Cheese Press

Comté Cheese Press

Until now the curds have been treated gently. The next process is brutal. A big vacuum hose lifts the curds ten feet in the air and shoots them fifteen feet across the arched ceiling, unceremoniously plopping them in one of four mold machines. Pressed for eight hours, held in their mold until the next morning, they’re ulimately brought to “The nursery” where they practice being cheese for three to four weeks, washed daily with morge, a brine made of water and the scraped crust of older cheese. It’s the mother culture of the cheese maker, like a bread starter is to a baker, one of the things that gives a cheese from a single fromagerie its unique flavor.

The baby cheeses are—ironically bigger now then they’ll be when they “grow up”, since they lose water—are stored on spruce shelves, which the skin of comté enjoys as it turns to rind. The shelves are rough cut, harvested when the sap has drained from them. You can see thick, raw grains across the boards. That lets a little bit of air pass under the cheese as it rests; wheels don’t stick. Marcel Petite’s trucks visit every month to pick up young wheels.

Fort St. Antoine

Fort St. Antoine

Marcel Petite 
Fort Lucotte de Saint Antoine

“You feel like you’re coming to the center of the cheese world: of industry, quantity, quality.” – Jason Hinds, Essex St. Comté

The road leads up through the village, past some hills and a small forest. The fort is built underground, alone and invisible, marked only by a ten foot tall door built into a hill. You park and enter by walking across a moat. The smell is warm butter and pine. You’re ushered up to the lunch room first, for espresso, the cheese halls flash by on your left. A few of the staff are reading papers, eating cheese, drinking a 1998 Cotes du Jura, part of which has found its way into a plastic water bottle. Windows open onto the Mont d’Or, leaves umber and rust, but the grass is still very green. It’ll be that way until first snow in December.

Cheeses arrive from the fruitières regularly, 80% of which are in the mountains, along the Swiss border. The hills were forested ten centuries ago, now cows graze on them. First stop is the top level, La Maternelle, another nursery. Wheels are doused with sea salt to draw out more water, washed with cool water to keep the “wrong” bacteria from being active. Today there are about 25,000 wheels. They’ll stay there for 6 months when they’ll come down and join the 35,000 wheels in the lower rooms.

Fort St. Antoine's manin room, The Church of Cheese

Fort St. Antoine’s manin room, The Church of Cheese

Lights, camera—but nothing prepares you for entering the Church of Cheese. The main room of the fort, once a covered garden, holds 9,000 wheels of comté, each three feet across, seventy pounds, rising twenty feet high under a cathedral ceiling. The wheels look like rounds of wood or stone, in various stages of growth, their surfaces sometimes smooth, other times mottled, molded, warty, covered in patterns that look like lichen, rust, sandstone or bird shit. Absolute silence, once in a while broken by the whir of little electric hand carts. Or the lonely cheese washing robot that haunts the aisles. Little rooms are off to the side. They used to hold 52 soldiers each, now they store 900 wheels of comté.

I’m escorted by the affineur, called the chef de cave Claude, and his other half, Phillipe Goux, head of sales. Claude is dressed in white jacket and white hat, with nothing more than a note pad and cheese iron as tools. Mr Goux, born in Jura, eats comté two or times a day. He prefers younger cheese.

The fort has its own micro climates. There are no heaters or humidifiers, just the bricks and the earth outside them. Grass grows in some areas. Claude taps, touches, tastes. He’s trying to figure out where to send the cheese next. To the dryer room? The warmer one? Much of his life is devoted to deciding what’s best for a wheel, 60,000 decisions, one kind of cheese, endlessly repeated. Each wheel will only be with him for a year or so but more will come. He’s developed a strange coding system to keep track of each wheel’s journey. He scratches it the edge of the wheel with his iron. A little window. A cross. Codes for him alone.

We taste thirteen cheeses. The routine is always the same. Claude walks along the aisle, guided by the codes. He picks one wheel, tilts it out of its cubby, rubs its top quickly, in circles. Tap tap tap the top, insert the iron on the edge of the wheel, turn, remove. Smell. Pause. Take a piece, between thumb and forefinger, pass around. Everyone follows, on cue. Take a bit of paste, warm it, replug the whole, use the paste as a cement to seal it.

Dominic Coyte, Essex Street Comté’s selector, grades cheeses 1 to 5 for flavor, texture, longevity. Anything above 3 is fair game for him to buy. Sometimes a cheese that was asleep a month ago comes alive. FIFO doesn’t work, sometimes a November cheese is ready before an August. We don’t touch the cheese, only taste. If Dom chooses a wheel Claude marks “ESSEX” on the side with his iron.

The conversation is spare and clear. “I like it. It’s not as dry.” Maybe it seems that way because of the language barrier; we’re English speakers, they’re French. Maybe it’s because I’m with a bunch of Brits.

  • No 25. August 2005. Sweet. Full. Sour. Vegetal. Spicy at the end. Meat. Roasted, especially onions. Cream. Nut. Cocoa powder. Caramel. Wet.
  • No 4, Oct 2005 Lovely. Nutty. Full mouth.
  • No. 7. September 2005.  Dried prune. chocolate. Long flavor. Made by Christophe Parent in Narbief, Frutiere 747.

Marcel Petite, the man, started aging “just” 2,500 cheeses in 1966. He waged an uphill battle trying to change local cheese tastes from warm, fast-matured cheeses with big holes inside (like Swiss Cheese) to longer-aged cheeses with no holes, aged in cooler climates. Today Marcel Petite, the company, houses 60,000 wheels in Fort St Antoine, 80,000 wheels in another facility in Grenoble. Fort St Antoine, built in the late 1800s for the Franco Prussian wars, failed spectacularly when it deployed as part of the Maginot line in World War II. The French government sold it off, now it matures the country’s best cheeses, most from the Jura’s top fifteen mountain fruitières.

- Mo

Marcel Petite’s amazing Comté is available for order through Zingerman’s Mail Order. And Zingerman’s Deli is also featuring an extra aged version as part of their Vive la France promotion which lasts through the month of October!

Food, Food Artisans

This Week at Zingerman’s 9/30/14

Dr Lee Meadows

ZingTrain Speaker Series: Dr. Lee Meadows

Leveraging Diversity: An Ace Against the “Lull”

Dr. Lee Meadows’ other name is “The Lull Doctor”. And for good reason! Dr. Meadows specializes in helping organizations large and small, for-profit and non-profit, public and private, escape the Lull. He defines the Lull as a Missed Opportunity and has literally written the book on how to recognize missed opportunities and turn any situation into an innovative and dynamic experience. His book, “Taking the Lull by the Horns” outlines a philosophy of situational leadership that any individual can emulate and any organization can encourage!

In his studies of what prevents the Lull, Dr. Meadows has come to firmly believe that the growing (and well documented) diversity of the workforce represents a strength that enhances the competitive edge of successful organizations. He will tell you that maximizing a team’s diverse talents is a leadership opportunity that is anchored in a specific set of actions common to successful 21st century organizations. Join us this Wednesday, October 1, 8-930am.

Here are five quick questions with Dr. Meadows.

Reserve your seat here


Vander Mill Cider Tasting at Zingerman’s Creamery

Michigan is fast becoming known for its great selection of delicious hard ciders, and Spring Lake’s Vander Mill is one of the best. Sourcing fresh apples from nearby Dietrich Orchards in Conklin, MI.,Vander Mill presses only the highest quality Michigan fruit into their award-winning hard and sweet cider. Each bushel of apples is hand-sorted, and washed. Vander Mill orginal Hard Apple, Blue Gold, and Totally Roasted ciders are never pasteurized and no preservatives are used. We’ll be sampling these terrific Michigan ciders on Friday, October 3, 6pm, along with pairings of great Creamery cheese. Get your cider on!

Reserve your seat here


Rosh Hashanah Specials Continue at Zingerman’s bakehouse

Challah Turbans
Our fresh egg and clover honey challah bread in the traditional round shape, with or without rum-soaked raisins. Available thru October 4th.

More Rockin’ Challah
Traditional Moroccan challah, egg bread with clover honey in a traditional 5 strand braid topped with poppy, sesame, and anise seeds. Available thru October 4th.

Honeycake
A dense spice cake made with buckwheat honey, brewed tea, almonds and golden raisins. 6″ cake. Available thru October 4th.

Applesauce Cake
A moist cake made with applesauce and butter, full of chunks of fresh Michigan apples, toasted walnuts and red flame raisins. 9” cake. Available September 24th thru September 28th.

Flodni
The name flodni (fluden in Yiddish) refers to a layered and filled pastry. This version with poppyseed, walnut and apple filling layers is a Hungarian specialty as well as a traditional Jewish holiday pastry. Available everyday.

Apple Rétes
Rétes (ray-tesh) is a Hungarian specialty, you might know it as strudel. We take our own fresh dough and carefully hand stretch it over an 8-foot table until it’s thin enough to see through. Then it’s folded and layered with melted butter and a sprinkle of cake crumbs, wrapped around fresh Michigan apples, baked until golden brown and dusted with powdered sugar. Available everyday.

Call to reserve your Rosh Hashanah specials. 734-761-2095.


Rosh Hashanah Menu at Zingerman’s Deli

Let the Deli do the cooking this year! Our Rosh Hashanah Menu includes a delicious selection of traditional favorites including Challahs, Honeycake and sweet pastries from the Bakehouse, Noodle Kugel, Chopped Liver, Potato Knishes, Matzo Balls, Jewish Chicken Broth, Free-Range Hanois Hens, Roast Beef Brisket and much more! Serve a holiday feast that your guests will never forget! Call to order 734-663-3400.


New Buyers Guide and Holiday Staff Positions at Zingerman’s Mail Order

The big news around Zingerman’s Mail Order is that our Fall Buyers Guide should be in homes any day now. The Guide has lots of new products and a bunch of in-depth articles about the fabulous foods! Check it out!

Zingerman’s Mail Order also ships fresh Challah for Rosh Hashanah! 

The other big news is that Zingerman’s Mail Order is hiring holiday staff! We’ve posted several positions on our Jobs site and we’re taking applications now! Apply today!


1st Sunday Creamery Tour at Zingerman’s Creamery

Join our cheese and gelato makers this Sunday, October 5, 2pm, for an hour-long adventure as we transform local milk into delicious cheese and gelato. You’ll watch our fresh mozzarella stretched into shape, taste our cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses while our staff explain the cheesemaking process, and sample our delicious fresh gelato. 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

Next Week and Beyond:

Whiskey and Apples Cocktail Class at Cornman Farms

A slight chill in the air, brilliantly colored leaves, the smell of apples…autumn has arrived in Michigan! We’re taking a historic approach to fall beverages for this month’s cocktail class.

The pilgrims planted the first apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony upon arrival in the New World. Within a few short years, the settlers were making apple cider. A Scottish immigrant and Revolutionary soldier, Robert Laird founded the first US commercial distillery in New Jersey in 1780 to produce his already popular Applejack, a brandy-type liquor. About a century later Jack Daniels founded the oldest IRS-registered distillery in the US to make his Tennessee whiskey. To this day, apples and whiskey remain the perfect fall cocktail combination.

Join us for a celebration of autumn at Cornman Farms on Monday, October 6, 7pm as we discuss and mix cocktails using Jack Daniels whiskey, Laird’s Applejack liqueur, and farm-fresh apple cider. We’ll follow a centuries-old tradition with a Hot Apple Toddy, re-create the roaring ‘20s with a Jack Rose cocktail, and embrace the modern with an Apple Whiskey Manhattan. There’s no better way to welcome fall than with a drink that warms your body and your spirit!

We’ll also have some fantastic fall tapas to accompany your fantastic apple cocktails.

Reserve your seat here


Intro to Zingerman’s Cornman Farms

Join us Thursday, October 9, 530pm and enjoy a fascinating introduction to Cornman Farms’ rich history, agricultural projects and humane raising of animals. We’ll even throw in a taste of one of our seasonal vegetables!

Reserve your seat here


Westside Farmers’ Market Fundraiser Dinner at Cornman Farms

The Westside Farmers’ Market proudly brings amazing farm fresh food to Ann Arbor’s Westside every Thursday afternoon. The Roadhouse and Cornman Farms support this community event annually with a celebratory fall harvest dinner. This support has and will continue to grow the offerings available every summer. Please show your support and join us on Tuesday, October 14, 7pm.

James Beard award-winning Chef Alex Young has created a menu featuring the beautifully grown produce from Westside’s vendors. We invite you to partake in the harvest with them at the peak of the season with a fresh fundraising dinner.

Reserve your seat here

See you soon!

Food, Food Artisans

Anything and Everything

Central provisions, past and future

IMG_1682

Earlier this summer, Zingerman’s Deli was very happy to welcome local food purveyors, Steve Hall and Abby Olitzky of Central Provisions who threw a special summer-themed dinner for sixty lucky guests over two seatings. Steve and Abby run Central Provisions as a sort of working larder that’s “part restaurant, part market, part kitchen-in-motion,” and creates everything from summer picnic baskets, to private dinners, to light fare for weddings and holiday parties.

Steve introduces the dinner.

Steve introduces the dinner.

“We’re not really in the catering business, “says Steve, “because it’s just Abby and I, and we want to focus more on the quality and detail that goes into selecting good cheese and charcuterie, and creating small plates for a smaller gatherings.” Thus, they try to limit the menu to around 25-30 people. This is also necessary, because as Steve explains, “We’re actively looking for a permanent space to house our restaurant, and we’ve learned to be patient and wait for the right place to come along.”

The menu.

The menu.

And they have specific criteria in mind: “We want it to be accessible, a neighborhood spot. A space where people feel comfortable coming for a meal, or maybe just some of our pasta sauce, or a chutney. Or even a cup of sugar, if that’s all they need.” Steve envisions a location near downtown, but a bit “off the beaten track.” He cites the locations of the old Jefferson Market and Angelo’s as examples of the kind of space they’re looking for. “We just want to be involved in feeding our neighborhood.”

Salad with edible flowers.

Salad with edible flowers.

Steve has the advantage of knowing the town. He’s an Ann Arbor native who attended school in Rhode Island. After college, he followed the advice of Horace Greeley, and went west to San Francisco where he worked for Mission Cheese. Steve describes the place as very “cheese forward” serving good charcuterie, wine and craft beer. It was working here that he met partner Abby Olitzky.

Maddie LaKind and Abby preparing a course.

Maddie LaKind and Abby preparing a course.

Abby is a san Francisco native, who went to NYU and minored in food studies. Afterward, she attended culinary school in New York, then returned to San Francisco to work as a pastry chef at Italian eatery, Delfina, blocks away from Mission Cheese.

“We met over Zingerman’s bread, of all things,” says Steve with a smile. “I courted her with Zingerman’s Onion Rye.”

Fresh summer beans.

Fresh summer beans.

Thus, a partnership was born. The couple knew they wanted to open their own place, but the SF Bay Area proved far too costly. So, they moved back to Michigan intending originally to open something in the city of Detroit. “There’s a lot of excitement there around urban agriculture and food.” But, they were again hesitant in the face of the volume of businesses opening in Detroit.

IMG_1824

Beautiful pork ribs.

“We were a bit worried about being lost in the shuffle,” says Steve. “And Ann Arbor had become comfortable, so we decided to stick around here and see what we could do.” Toward this end, they both took jobs at Zingerman’s, Steve in the Deli, and Abby as an instructor at BAKE!, the cooking school at Zingerman’s Bakehouse. “Working at Zingerman’s has given me a chance to try new foods and products, and incorporate them into what we do.”

Abby’s brief tenure at BAKE! was fortuitously interrupted when a friend at Sweet Heather Anne called with an opportunity to play a more integral role in managing a business, in addition to overseeing the company’s baking operations. This experience has proven useful as their business has grown.

Lovely dessert.

Lovely dessert.

Together, they’ve built Central Provisions into a business that’s gaining recognition in the area for the thoughtful approach they take to their menus. The food is outstanding and creative, and made from carefully chosen ingredients. They serve homemade pickles and preserves, as well as a fine selection of domestic cheeses and charcuterie. Their Facebook page sums it up nicely: “We believe in locally-sourced ingredients, traditional techniques, and simple seasonal cuisine.”

Looking ahead, Steve says the priority is finding a space to house the business. But, he tells me they’re also talking with a canning company about packaging their homemade foods for retail. And they’re working with David Klingenberger, founder of noted fermented veggie purveyors, The Brinery, about created a signature kraut blend. When I suggest that this seems like quite a lot on their plate, Steve just smiles and says, “Anything and everything…” More philosophy than slogan, it embodies Central Provisions approach to their food, their business, maybe even their outlook on life. It’s a big world out there, why not try it all?

Anything and everything, indeed.

See you soon!


CP Autumn Dinner at Green Things

Central Provisions will be serving An Autumn Dinner on Saturday, October 11 at Green Things Farm.
Celebrate the harvest season with Steve and Abby, and enjoy a bountiful, family-style meal. Afterward, take a farm tour with Nate and Jill, then enjoy a tasty beverage and a toasty bonfire. Contact Central Provisions   (centralprovisionsatgmaildotcom)  to reserve your spot. Seats are limited, so don’t delay!

Food, Food Artisans

This Week at Zingerman’s 9/23/14

Rosh Hashanah Specials at zingerman’s bakehouse

Erev Rosh Hashanah is tomorrow, September 24.
Happy Challah Days

Challah Turbans
Our fresh egg and clover honey challah bread in the traditional round shape, with or without rum-soaked raisins. Available thru October 4th.

More Rockin’ Challah
Traditional Moroccan challah, egg bread with clover honey in a traditional 5 strand braid topped with poppy, sesame, and anise seeds. Available thru October 4th.

Honeycake
A dense spice cake made with buckwheat honey, brewed tea, almonds and golden raisins. 6″ cake. Available thru October 4th.

Applesauce Cake
A moist cake made with applesauce and butter, full of chunks of fresh Michigan apples, toasted walnuts and red flame raisins. 9” cake. Available September 24th thru September 28th.

Flodni
The name flodni (fluden in Yiddish) refers to a layered and filled pastry. This version with poppyseed, walnut and apple filling layers is a Hungarian specialty as well as a traditional Jewish holiday pastry. Available everyday.

Apple Rétes
Rétes (ray-tesh) is a Hungarian specialty, you might know it as strudel. We take our own fresh dough and carefully hand stretch it over an 8-foot table until it’s thin enough to see through. Then it’s folded and layered with melted butter and a sprinkle of cake crumbs, wrapped around fresh Michigan apples, baked until golden brown and dusted with powdered sugar. Available everyday.

Call to reserve your Rosh Hashanah specials. 734-761-2095.


Rosh Hashanah Menu at Zingerman’s Deli

Erev Rosh Hashanah is tomorrow, September 24.

Let the Deli do the cooking this year! Our Rosh Hashanah Menu includes a delicious selection of traditional favorites including Challahs, Honeycake and sweet pastries from the Bakehouse, Noodle Kugel, Chopped Liver, Potato Knishes, Matzo Balls, Jewish Chicken Broth, Free-Range Hanois Hens, Roast Beef Brisket and much more! Serve a holiday feast that your guests will never forget! Call to order 734-663-3400.
Rosh Hashanah Menu items available for pick-up or delivery starting Wed., Sept. 24th at noon.


New Buyers Guide and Holiday Staff Positions at Zingerman’s Mail Order

The big news around Zingerman’s Mail Order is that our Fall Buyers Guide should be in homes any day now. The Guide has lots of new products and a bunch of in-depth articles about the fabulous foods! Check it out!

The other big news is that Zingerman’s Mail Order is hiring holiday staff! We’ve posted several positions on our Jobs site and we’re taking applications now! Apply today!


ZingTrain Speaker Series: Jeff Janssen

7 Leadership Lessons from Legendary Sports Coaches

John Beilein, Michigan Men’s Basketball Coach said “Jeff Janssen’s work with the Michigan Leadership Academy has been tremendous.” We agree! And we’re tremendously pleased to offer a session with Jeff Janssen this coming Thursday, September 25, 8am. If you are looking to build a Championship Culture in your business and help your team consistently perform to its full potential – this is the session for you!

In this session, Leadership Academy Director Jeff Janssen reveals the seven Leadership Lessons he has learned from consulting with 25 NCAA National Championship teams at top athletic departments including Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina, Arizona, Notre Dame, and many others. Jeff’s program is designed for for leaders who want to build a winning team – no matter from which walk of life, or what level of an organization!

Here are five quick questions with Jeff. 

Reserve your seat here


Intro to Cornman Farms Tour

Enjoy a fascinating introduction to Cornman Farms’ rich history, agricultural projects and humane raising of animals. We’ll even throw in a taste of one of our seasonal vegetables! Thursday, September 25, 6 pm.

Reserve your seat here


Cheese Mastery Class at Zingerman’s Creamery

Join Creamery managing partner Aubrey Thomason for the second class in a series exploring the foundations of cheese. In this session, Aubrey will discuss the wide and varied spectrum of cheese styles. The French say there are just five, while others claim as many as seven distinct cheese styles. Join us this Saturday, September 27, 1pm as we talk technical terms, taste examples of the various cheese styles, and generally learn as much as we can about the wonderful world of cheese.

Reserve your seat here

Next Week and beyond:

Intro to Cornman Farms Tour

Enjoy a fascinating introduction to Cornman Farms’ rich history, agricultural projects and humane raising of animals. We’ll even throw in a taste of one of our seasonal vegetables! Monday, September 29, 6 pm.

Reserve your seat here


 ZingTrain Speaker Series: Lee Meadows

Leveraging Diversity: An Ace Against the “Lull” 

Dr. Lee Meadows’ other name is “The Lull Doctor.” And for good reason! Dr. Meadows specializes in helping organizations large and small, for-profit and non-profit, public and private, escape the Lull. He defines the Lull as a Missed Opportunity and has literally written the book on how to recognize missed opportunities and turn any situation into an innovative and dynamic experience. His book, “Taking the Lull by the Horns” outlines a philosophy of situational leadership that any individual can emulate and any organization can encourage!

In his studies of what prevents the Lull, Dr. Meadows has come to firmly believe that the growing (and well documented) diversity of the workforce represents a strength that enhances the competitive edge of successful organizations. He will tell you that maximizing a team’s diverse talents is a leadership opportunity that is anchored in a specific set of actions common to successful 21st century organizations. Join us Wednesday, October 1, 8am at ZingTrain for this session!

Reserve your seat here


Vander Mill Cider Tasting at Zingerman’s Creamery

Michigan is fast becoming known for its great selection of delicious hard ciders, and Spring Lake’s Vander Mill is one of the best. Sourcing fresh apples from nearby Dietrich Orchards in Conklin, MI.,Vander Mill presses only the highest quality Michigan fruit into their award-winning hard and sweet cider. Each bushel of apples is hand-sorted, and washed. Vander Mill orginal Hard Apple, Blue Gold, and Totally Roasted ciders are never pasteurized and no preservatives are used. We’ll be sampling these terrific Michigan ciders on Friday, October 3, 6pm, along with pairings of great Creamery cheese. Get your cider on!

Reserve your seat here

See you soon!

Food, Food Artisans

Askinosie Chocolate Founder Visits Zingerman’s

Shawn Askinosie Chocolate shares his story and his chocolate

Last week, we were very pleased to welcome our friend, chocolate maker Shawn Askinosie, to Zingerman’s. Shawn spoke first to an early morning audience at ZingTrain on the subject of vocation, then led an evening Chocolate 101 tasting for the public at Zingerman’s Events on 4th. The following day, he even stuck around to give a talk and lead a chocolate tasting for Zingerman’s staff.

IMG_3071

Shawn Askinosie readies the projector.

In the hours before the public tasting event at Zingerman’s Events on 4th, I sat in Zingerman’s Delicatessen with Shawn Askinosie. In a soft-spoken voice, he told me about his realization that he no longer wanted to practice law. “I just couldn’t do it anymore,” he said. “If I kept it up, I knew if was going to kill me.”

Hearing these words, I realized I wasn’t merely hearing a story about looking for a new job, but of a life shift of tectonic proportions. Shawn Askinosie had worked as a criminal defense lawyer for over 20 years in Springfield, Missouri, and by all accounts he was very good at his job. But two decades in a profession often filled with sadness and tragedy were wearing him down. As he put it, “It was time for me to do something else.” But what, he didn’t know. So he said a short prayer each day asking for guidance. “It was really simple, and went something like, ‘Dear God, please give me something else to do.’”

Meanwhile, he’d begun taking the steps needed to transition out of the business. He brought in a law partner to take the new cases coming to the firm, and started to wrap up his own declining caseload. He turned to grilling as his first new venture/hobby, and even shelled out for a Big Green Egg grill. Soon after, he moved into baking. “I made a lot of cupcakes,” he said. “I really like cupcakes.” With baking, naturally, comes chocolate, and Shawn was soon making a lot of chocolate desserts. As he got better, he noticed that some types chocolate delivered better results than others. He also realized that he really didn’t know where chocolate actually came from. So, he resolved to find out, and took his first of many trips to the Amazon basin. After that trip, he “went in full-force,” and traveled extensively to learn all he could about cocoa cultivation.

Sampling board for the tasting.

Sampling board for the tasting.

Askinosie spent the next few years building a network of cocoa farmers. From the very beginning, he dealt directly with the farmers and involved them in every aspect of the business. He calls this Direct Trade Sourcing. The farmers have to agree meet certain criteria, such as cocoa bean quality standards, cultivation and fermentation methods, etc. In turn, Shawn pays the farmers directly. No middleman. He visits each farmer once per year with financial statements, which he and the farmers scrutinize.

“The cocoa farming business is a cash business,” he says, “so they were always happy when I brought them cash. But when I showed up with the books, and started going through them line by line, it blew their minds.” Shawn is a believer in Open Book Management (something he practiced as a lawyer), a concept popularized by author and consultant Jack Stack, who also happens to be a friend and mentor to Shawn.

“I had this idea to take OBM one step further upstream and really give these guys a true share in the business.” Shawn went to Jack Stack with the idea and, “He loved it. We named the program ‘A Stake in the Outcome,’ which is named after one of the Jack’s books.”

Shawn talks chocolate with attentive guests.

Shawn talks chocolate with attentive guests.

Shawn is emphatic about not taking a “paternalistic” approach with the business. “The farmers receive their money to distribute, spend, or save as they see fit.” A great byproduct of this direct relationship with the cocoa farmers that Shawn deals with worldwide is that all of his chocolate is 100% traceable back to its origin farm. “I believe this way of doing business results in higher-quality chocolate,” he says.

Shawn makes a point about chocolate.

Shawn makes a point about chocolate.

But chocolate is not Shawn’s only vocation. There is also Chocolate University.
“Our factory is locate in a part of the community that’s being revitalized,” he says. “Theres a homeless shelter a block away, called the Missouri Hotel. There are 80 kids a night there. From the day we started, we wanted to engage the kids in the community, including the kids in this shelter.” And so they developed Chocolate University to do just that.

“The kids in the elementary school come and tour our factory and we visit their schools, and we teach them about our business. It’s a sort of back and forth relationship.” he says. The middle school program is similar, but some of the kids get involved in our community work and learn a bit more about chocolate making and the business. But it’s the high school program that takes quite a bit of time because Shawn takes those students to Tanzania.

Shawn at the Zingerman's staff tasting.

Shawn at the Zingerman’s staff tasting.

“It’s an every other year thing.” says Shawn of the program. “Juniors and Seniors in any Springfield high school – public, private, homeschool – are eligible to apply. They write essays and go through an interview process. And I partner with a local university near the factory to help me evaluate the applicants. We narrow it down to 13 kids out of about 70 applicants.” The students who make the cut then take part in summer intensive program, ‘Bean to Bar Chocolate,’ at the local college. “They spend a week on campus, and get to know each other. They learn about our business model, about profit sharing, about Open Book, the history of Tanzania, its language, culture, and sociology. And they learn about chocolate making, and evaluating cocoa beans. At the end of this week, they go for a day and pack. And then we take them to Tanzania.”

IMG_3193

“Flavor begins with knowing the farmers.”

Shawn, the students, a teacher, and a college professor all travel to Tanzania where they get a first-hand look at how cocoa beans are cultivated and fermented, then prepared for shipment back to the U.S. They live with the farmers in a local village, and everyone pitches in.

“Over half the kids are funded by us, and the rest is made up by donors. It really ends up being a life-changing experience for these kids. When you help drill a water well for people who don’t have clean water, and you then drink from that well…you don’t forget that.” He then tells a story of overhearing a student texting his mother back in the U.S. that “this is the best day of my life!”

Shawn speaks with a ZIngerman's staffer.

Shawn speaks with a Zingerman’s staffer.

...and another.

…and another.

Shawn is smiling as he’s telling this story, and there’s a bit of a hitch in his voice. This is the real work. The vocation, as Shawn calls it.

“As I was telling the folks at ZingTrain this morning, meaningful work is not necessarily derived from the status of the work, or the kind of work. It’s derived the thought and attitude we give it. So we derive the dignity of the work from what we put into it, not what it gives us.” He pauses.

“If you have meaningful work, its a calling. Truly a vocation.”

Later, as I think about Shawn’s words, I take a small bite of his Tanzania Dark Chocolate and let it slowly melt on my tongue. I swear it tastes even better than I remember…