Ari’s Pick: Potato and Bacon Rétes at the Bakehouse

Flaky, filled Hungarian pastry

Over the last few centuries, there’s been quite an argument going between Austrian and Hungarian historians as to who should get the culinary credit for the invention of strudel. In Hungary, strudel is known as “rétes” (pronounced black and white photo of rétes being made“ray-TESH”). While Austrian and Hungarian experts have at it, I should add that writer George Lang said that the strudel was a legacy of the Turkish influence on the region. Rétes comes from the Hungarian word réteges, meaning, appropriately, “layered.” Ultra-thin, hand-done strudel dough wrapped around a variety of fillings—as George Lang wrote, “so thin and light one can blow it away with a puff of air.” Amy Emberling, Managing Partner at the Bakehouse, says of the strudel making process: “The dough is one of those wonders of the baking world that is rewarding to make. It’s like a magic trick!”

Any, or all, of the rétes we make are excellent, though I’m personally partial to the potato and bacon version. The sweet smokiness of Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon offsets the creamy texture of the perfectly cooked potatoes and the flakiness of the delicious pastry that the Bakehouse staff works successfully to stretch so incredibly thin. It’s terrific for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. In the same way you can swing by the Roadshow and pick up one of those wonderful breakfast burritos and eat it while you’re in the car or while you’re walking, the potato and bacon rétes works well too. I remember one out-of-town guest going back four times in three days to buy more: “I can’t stop eating it” were his exact words as he tried to explain to me why he was back at the Bakeshop for the second time in a single day. We have them at our house for dinner regularly, usually accompanied by soft scrambled eggs—Tammie told me a few years ago that “the rétes are like God’s gift to the Bakehouse!”

potato bacon rétes

You can get the rétes Tuesday through Saturday after 11 am—while supplies last—at the Bakeshop on Plaza Drive. FYI, if you’re feeding family of friends, you can also buy a whole, unbaked frozen “log” of them to finish off at your house. Guaranteed your whole home will be filled with wonderful aromas, and in about 45 minutes you’ll have a marvelous meal!

I should add that if you want to make these marvelous rétes at home, you can pick up the recipe in the Zingerman’s Bakehouse cookbook (it’s on page 237).

If you want some hands-on instruction, the folks at BAKE! are teaching “Noodling with Strudelling.”


Ari headshot
Ari Weinzweig
Co-Founding Partner at Zingerman's | + posts

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!

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Stephanie Whitbeck
11 months ago

I haven’t had your Potato bacon retes or Indian retes since the East Lansing Food Co-Op closed. They were a delight. I wish you would offer this class virtually! Visualizing the recipe is not easy. I’m stuck reading several places in the recipe. Under “pull the dough” , can you please explain how one should later clean the floured sheet or tablecloth used to make the retes? I’m having trouble reconciling that we shouldn’t have flour go down the sink drain with washing floured cloth in my washer. Or, does the cloth remain unwashed like that which is used for… Read more »