Last week I wrote about a great product-quality upgrade we made at the Roadhouse—starting to use far more flavorful spelt flour in our pancakes, freshly milled at the Bakehouse, in place of the commercial all-purpose flour we’d been using for years. I’ve tasted the pancakes almost every morning for the last week and they really are terrific. (They’re great with blueberries added as well!) This week, I’m sharing equally excellent news. It’s about a big step forward in the flavor of a Bakehouse offering we’ve been baking for nearly 30 years now. Our Chocolate Cherry Bread—one of the Bakehouse’s original offerings in 1992—is now being made with an even higher quality chocolate.
The impact on the bread is not just intellectual—the flavor is far more compelling. The results are real, and you can absolutely taste the difference! The bread is so much more flavorful that I’m actively seeking it out to bring home! Amy Emberling, longtime managing partner at the Bakehouse, says the same. When I asked her if I was imagining how much better the Chocolate Cherry had gotten, she assured me that she too could really taste the difference: “Absolutely my experience as well. It’s hands down better. I did a blind tasting of the bread, before and after, and it was a massive difference!”
To make this magically wonderful upgrade, we’ve shifted from using the chocolate of a very well known, high end, international producer to a bean-to-bar chocolate from our friends at French Broad Chocolate in Asheville, North Carolina. The Chocolate Cherry Bread is now made with a good dose of their single-origin Nicaragua 68% cacao content. The French Broad folks share the story of the sourcing:
Giff, an ex-Peace Corps expatriate, and Jose Enrique, a Nicaraguan cacao agronomist, live in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua, where Criollo and Trinitario cacao varietals have been cultivated for generations. Both brought years of professional experience and a shared vision to their partnership. To preserve heirloom varietals of cacao, they pay a premium to local farmers for Criollo-infused seed with fine flavor profiles, and plant rare varietals on their own farms. Then they ferment and dry with precision.
The chocolate upgrade has made for a loaf with a light, delicate flavor, akin to a delicious cup of top-notch hot cocoa. It brings together the lovely light chocolatiness, the tartness of the cherries, and the delicate, acoustic bass notes of the natural sour starter. In this newly-improved version, the flavor of the bread itself comes through beautifully. I’ve been tearing chunks right off the loaf to eat. The finish is so clean, so lovely, and lively, that I just want to eat more of it. You can of course turn the Chocolate Cherry into other things—Ed Levine, who started “Serious Eats,” says it makes the “base of the best French toast you’ve ever had in your life.”
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
- Sign up for Ari’s Top 5 enewsletter to hear more from Ari every week!
- Read more about French Broad Chocolate
- Pick up a fresh loaf at the Bakehouse on Tuesdays and Fridays around 5 pm and at the Deli and Roadhouse around 7pm.
- Better still, let us ship some for you from coast to coast.
In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.
Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.
Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.
One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.
Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.
Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!