When I went into the Bakehouse on a recent Sunday morning and looked around, my eyes landed on one of the joy-generators we make. Ricotta Doughnuts. Seriously. Delicious. Delightful. A handful of joy that can quickly brighten my day and maybe yours as well. When you get that bite with sweetened vanilla-scented ricotta, you find joy with a capital J!
If you like, you can gild the ricotta doughnut lily by simply adding a spoonful of the jam or honey of your choosing inside. I keep thinking of the American Spoon Rhubarb Marmalade I wrote up a few months ago. An orange marmalade might be marvelous. Or the American Spoon Early Glow Strawberry that they’re probably cooking in those copper kettles up in Petoskey right now.
The Italian name for these doughnuts would be Castagnole di ricotta. They’re most typical at Carnivale in the winter, but in the spirit of making life more joyful all year long, I like that we offer them every Sunday.
In Italy they’re particularly popular in the region of Emilia-Romana, one of the best eating parts of a country that we all know, knows how to eat really well. Italian food writer Ada Boni was a big proponent of the ricotta doughnuts. Emiko, writing on Food52, says, “In 1929, the year the original The Talisman Italian Cookbook (or Il Talismano della Felicità in Italian) was published, it was considered the book for the ‘modern woman,’ the book to give to all brides for their wedding.” Boni’s Italian Regional Cooking, which came out in her later years, in 1969, was one of the first cookbooks I ever bought. Her approach to food and cooking nicely sums up what we work hard, if ever imperfectly, to do here at Zingerman’s:
“There can be no true happiness if such an essential part of our daily lives as eating is neglected. Cooking is the most gay of arts and the most pleasant of sciences.”
And these delicious ricotta doughnuts from the Bakehouse make all that come true.
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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!