Goodbye Deli; Hello Bakehouse
Food, Food Artisans
Maddie takes a step forward
This week marks a momentous occasion for me, one that brings with it both excitement and sadness. This week, I will be leaving Zingerman’s deli after more than four years to pursue pastry baking at Zingerman’s Bakehouse. I know its cliché to say, but I can’t believe four years went by so fast.
I started at the deli at the beginning of my sophomore year of college, young, curious, and wildly excited to be a part of the Zingerman’s community. Since that first day, I have been given more opportunities than my wide-eyed 20-year old self could ever have imagined. I blogged, I tasted magical wheels of cheese like Comté and Bayley Hazen Blue, and I served Aziz Ansari a sample of cheese. I made friends who have now become best friends. I participated in Zingerman’s-wide panel discussions. I learned how to professionally taste and assess food. I attended tastings hosted by world-class artisan food producers. I ate more #73 sandwiches than I could have ever thought humanly possible. I wrote schedules, managed shifts, took days worth of sandwich orders, and met the love of my life. I think the only thing I didn’t get to do was meet President Obama (I had the day off!).
In light of this impending move, I’ve been doing a good bit of reflection on my time at the deli and attempting to grasp just how much it has influenced my life. I’m reminded of a quote from The Office, possibly my favorite TV show of all time. In the series finale, one of the main characters, Andy, says, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” Andy, you hit the nail on the head. The past four years at the deli were my “good old days,” and the reality of my leaving is very hard to grasp. That little deli on the corner of Kingsley and Detroit St. became my second home and the people in it, my second family. Although, I will still be a part of the Zingerman’s community of businesses, the deli will forever hold a special sandwich-shaped spot in my heart. To all of my managers, supervisors, friends, customers, regulars, mentors, and everyone else in between, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support, your enthusiasm, your inspiration, your advice, and your love. These truly have been the best four years of my life.
In the midst of this big change are some very sweet things, specifically scones, cookies, brownies, pies, and cakes. Ever since I was a toddler, I have had a particular affinity for dessert and sweet things in general—my prerequisite question before a meal was “is it sweet?” So I couldn’t be more thrilled that I will be able to translate this deep love into my new work life at Zingerman’s Bakehouse. During the next two months, I will be helping prepare a smorgasbord of holiday treats, rolling rugelach, scooping cookies, shaping scones, crimping pie crusts, and so much more. And I’ll still be writing every step of the way, so stay tuned for all the buttery details!
Bakehouse Staff Favorites for Easter
Food, Food Artisans
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.
Come and BAKE! with us!
Food, Food Artisans, ZingLife
BAKE! is our hands-on teaching bakery in Ann Arbor, located between Zingerman’s Bakehouse and Zingerman’s Creamery at our south side campus. At BAKE! we share our knowledge and love of baking with the home baker community, seeking to preserve baking traditions and inspire new ones. We offer dozens of different bread, pastry and cake classes in our very own teaching kitchens. You’ll leave BAKE! with the food you made in class and the inspiration and skills to bake at home!
Learn the basics at BAKE!
Bake me a Cake
Baking Pies a Plenty
Fabulous French Baguettes
Naturally Leavened breads
Ooh La La Croissants
NEW BAKE! classes
Advanced Cake Decorating
Boston Cream Pie
More Gluten Free
New cooking classes at BAKE!
American Candy with Charlie Frank
Hungarian Supper with Rodger Bowser
Dinner Series: American, French or Italian
Make it a BAKE!-cation
Like fantasy camp for home bakers!
Pastry 2.0 Weekend, May 17th & 18th
Bread Week, June 3rd-6th
Pastry Week, July 8th-11th
Savory Week, July 22nd-25th
Sign up today and BAKE! with us!
Ode to the Joy of Simplicity of the Genoa Salami Sandwich
A personal testimonial
by Josh Pollock, manager of the Bakeshop at Zingerman’s Bakehouse
Long before I started working for Zingerman’s, the Bakeshop already had a special place in my culinary heart. For years I worked at the Borders headquarters, just across State Street and down Ellsworth Road from Zingerman’s southside campus, and next door to Zingerman’s Mail Order. Often colleagues and I would decamp to the Bakeshop to grab a quick, flavorful lunch which we could eat outdoors, at a reasonable price, without being surrounded by security fences. (Old Borders joke, “With security like this, we need better secrets.”) It was during these visits that I became acquainted with the Genoa Salami sandwich. Not only did it become a steady part of my mid-day meal rotation, but it quickly established itself in a far more important role in my life.
My wife and I travel to the East Coast almost every year, leaving Ann Arbor in the early morning and making the middle of upstate New York by early evening. Between here and there the options for tasty, quick food are few and far between. Early on we started packing lunches rather than eating at the fast food chains that predominate Ontario’s QEW and the New York State Thru-Way. While I love to cook, preparing a meal on the morning before I go out of town for two weeks is not my idea of bliss. Enter my lunchtime stand-by.
In many ways there could not be a better sandwich for the road than the Bakeshop’s Genoa Salami. It is compact, making it easy to eat at a roadside rest area or, heaven and traffic forbid, while driving. For roughly the same cost as a Big Mac I can feast on well-cured salami and provolone cheese on a baguette hand crafted that morning and baked to crisp perfection, the whole thing seasoned with balsamic dressing. The crunch of the bread, the creaminess of the cheese, the garlicky, saltiness of the meat and the sweet tang of the balsamic are a revelation at room temperature, under the sun of a late August day. No drippy mess from too much mayo to cover too little flavor. No gummy bread to get stuck to the roof of your mouth. Just pure, simple flavors, melding together to bring pleasure and fill me up just enough to make it the next five hours on the road.
As we sit and enjoy our sandwiches watching our fellow travelers chomping on burgers made with frozen meat, topped with processed cheese and served on bread that won’t go stale in a week, my wife inevitably will remind me of the line from Aunty Mame, “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” But not if you plan ahead and grab a Genoa Salami sandwich to go.
A Tale of Two Townies…
Food, Food Artisans
…and how they ended up at Zingerman’s
I recently sat down to talk with Josh Pollock, manager of the Bakehouse bake shop about growing up in Ann Arbor, working for another local business icon, Borders, and how we came to join Zingerman’s.
EJ Olsen: What’s your background?
Josh Pollock: I grew up in town as a faculty brat. My dad was a professor at the UM School of Engineering. I went to Newport, Forsythe and Pioneer. After high school, I was ready to get out of town, so I left for about 10 years and during that time is when Zingerman’s really established itself. I lived in NYC for a couple years and had a lot of great food experiences there, including going to all the classic Delis like Katz’s, the Carnegie Deli, the Second Avenue Deli and some of the great old kosher dairy restaurants there, too. When I came back to visit a couple of times, I visited Zingerman’s Deli and it was great to get that high-quality corned beef sandwich right here in Ann Arbor.
What was your first sandwich at the Zingerman’s Deli?
I’m pretty darn sure it was hot corned beef on rye with mustard.
Okay, so I was born here at UM hospital. I went to Wines, Forsythe, Pioneer and Community. In fact, while at Community, we used to go to the little store on Detroit St. that eventually became the Deli. We also used to go to Kerrytown for lunch at Kosmo’s. I was first exposed to a Reuben sandwich on trip somewhere with my family, and I really liked that sandwich. When the Deli opened back in ’82, they immediately had a reputation for great sandwiches, so I had to give them a try. And there at #2 was the Zingerman’s Reuben. I’d never tasted one quite that good, quite that BIG–
So, I was a regular customer and fan for the next few years. Moved to San Francisco, came back after a few years and Zingerman’s was doing better than ever and it was really nice to stop in and say hello. Moved to Washington DC, came back. Zingerman’s always made returning to Ann Arbor really nice, you know?
So many things in Ann Arbor have changed. It was nice to see that Zingerman’s was not only still there, but had grown considerably.
It’s one of the things you do in Ann Arbor. You’ve got your list of things, and going to Zingerman’s is on almost everyone’s.
When I came back to Ann Arbor permanently in the early 90s (I’d been working publishing in NYC), and I was attracted to working for Borders because they had a passion for books, and they had great bookstores. And at that time, Borders didn’t really consider itself a chain, they considered themselves a collection of fine bookstores, and that was the line.
When Borders came to an end, I was really looking for something that had a lot of the same attributes that existed in the early Borders. A passion about what they did, a desire to do it incredibly well, and culture that really supported giving great service and being the best at what you did.
And this is what’s made Zingerman’s such a nice fit. Like the early days of Borders, they know exactly what they want to do. Instead of chasing the money, they’ve concentrated on chasing the three bottom lines: great service, great food, and great finance.
I was attracted to working for Borders for the same reasons you mention above. And I love to read, so it was hard to imagine a more perfect job!
I was a legacy staffer at Borders, as my mother worked for Tom and Louis Borders at the old State St. store back in the 1970s. It was very much part of the fabric of Ann Arbor. When they became successful, it felt like our great hometown bookstore had caught on and that was a pretty neat feeling.
I had a long and fun career at Borders. And, as you said, for a time Borders and Zingerman’s really resembled each other in terms of culture and passion and service.
So, after that ended, I wanted to work for another organization that really mattered to me. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to have that sort of experience again. It was sort of a high-water mark with regard to quality of work life. And, lo and behold, I found it all these years later here at Zingerman’s.
Yes, yes! Managing the bake shop, I see a lot of the same things I used to see managing the Borders downtown. You see a lot of people you know. You see their parents!
You hear from everyone you know about every detail of their experiences at every one of the Zingerman’s businesses! It’s a lot of fun and it’s also a lot of responsibility, because you have to carry the banner. And it’s a great banner to carry and the company makes it very easy to do. It’s a great place to be because just as with Borders, you get to know people and their tastes, and you can personally recommend a book. It’s the same thing with food.
So when something new comes in, some new Hungarian dish, you can say “You’ve got to try this” and to see the look on their faces when they make that food connection. You watch their face light up as they get it, and that’s so exciting.
It is! If you grew up in Ann Arbor, you have a unique relationship with a large percentage of your clientele. These are friends and neighbors, the people you know and so I think there’s a heightened sense of responsibility. I’m going to see this person again soon, and I can’t just not give my best because…
They’re gonna tell my parents!
(laughter) Right! And so there’s that personal investment in the people who come into our businesses. I feel like I’m recommending something that I love and I have no qualms about doing so. I mean, for YEARS, I recommended Zingerman’s before working here, so it’s been a pretty seamless transition.
There’s something here for everyone, and chances are if we make something you like it will be among the best, if not the best, you’ve ever tasted. We’ve had people who say they don’t like something, they try our version, and they like it. That’s exciting.
And now, I must get back to my Sólet!
Michigan Wheat and Rye.
All Good Things Take Time.
For many years we have been working to source more local ingredients to bake with. On some fronts we have been successful, on others not so much. You might be surprised to know Michigan-grown and milled flours for baking are very hard to come by. I guess the story of using Michigan grains in Bakehouse breads started with rye four years ago. Back then, we joined up with the Moore Family Farm in Elsie, Michigan about 100 miles away from the Bakehouse. Phyllis Moore agreed to sell us some of her family’s rye and we would see if we could use it in our baking. We bought a few hundred pounds in 2011, tested it and happily found it worked in our recipes. We were determined and inspired to expand on our project. So in 2012, we asked Phyllis for several thousand pounds of rye. This quantity enabled us to nearly go the entire year with every loaf of our traditional Jewish Rye bread having 25% of it’s rye grown in Michigan.
This past year, we committed to more rye and our hope is that we will be able to have every loaf of rye bread baked this year have 25% of it’s rye come from the Moore Farm in Elsie. In addition, our Vollkornbrot loaves will be entirely made with Michigan rye!
Nearly all of the rye flour that we use at the Bakehouse is “medium rye”, a term that describes its grind and indicates that some of the rye bran has been sifted off. When we purchase rye from the Moore family we have it milled as “whole rye” and as such are only able to substitute 25% of what normally goes into our traditional Jewish Rye. This substitution adds a great deal more flavor and integrity to the loaf – adding any more compromises the loft and necessary size of the loaf.
We have more exciting bread news. In March 2014, for the first time in our 21 year history, we’ll be making our signature Farm Bread entirely with Michigan-grown wheat flour.
Wondering how that could be? While we live in a state of incredible agricultural production, Michigan has not really produced wheat for bread production since the late 19th century. Since then nearly all of the wheat grown has been targeted for pastry and cake production, a lower protein and “softer” wheat. We were lucky to cross paths with Phil Tocco, from Michigan State University about 4 years ago and he has helped connect us with farmers in Michigan who were willing to take a chance on growing varieties of wheat that we could bake bread with. We got enough flour from the 2011 growing season to bake a few dozen test loaves, and then from the 2012 season to bake a couple of hundred loaves. Then this past year Phil found a farmer about 85 miles from the Bakehouse who grew enough wheat for us to make about 8,000 loaves of our Farm Bread. We had this wheat milled into bread flour.
In addition to working with Phil , I met Ron Doetch from Solutions In The Land and Patrick Judd from Conservation Design Forum to discuss growing wheat for the Bakehouse bread production. We were unable to connect with farmers willing to grow wheat for us during the 2012 season but continued to meet and last year managed to get a couple of farmers to plant some hard red wheat for bread making. While the wheat planted in Washtenaw County was eventually plowed under (because of the weather conditions this past summer), we were able to get 8,000 pounds of whole wheat flour from the Ed Heinze Farm in South Haven, Michigan. This will be used in our country wheat bread.
It’s been a long process, but it’s worth it. We’re looking forward to you all enjoying these truly Michigan made loaves of bread in March.
- Frank Carollo
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Bakehouse