Ari’s Pick: Chile Cheddar Bread from the Bakehouse

A magical bread laced with fire-roasted New Mexico green chiles

For whatever reason, over the last few weeks, I’ve been eating a lot of Zingerman’s Bakehouse Chile Cheddar bread. There’s something so special about the combination of the (Better Than) San Francisco Sourdough bread with two halves of a loaf of Chile Cheddar stacked on top of each otherVermont cheddar and New Mexico fire-roasted green chiles that brings comfort and also culinary complexity. It’s particularly wonderful when it’s been warmed up, either by the slice in the toaster, or when one puts the whole loaf (unwrapped) in the oven for about 20 minutes (at about 350°F).

The gentle heat from the chiles, the tang of sourdough, and the creaminess of the pieces of cheddar all come together to make a bread that’s pretty surely much more than the sum of its individual parts would be.

If you’ve not been to New Mexico, you may not know the special, almost addictive, attraction that locals and loyalist visitors (like me) have for the state’s nationally-known green chiles. When you go, you’ll eat green chiles in everything from tacos to avocado toast, and bagels to burritos.

Although they originated in South and Central America, chiles were likely brought to what is now New Mexico at the end of the 16th century by Spanish invaders coming in from Mexico. The modern work that made the New Mexico green chile what it is was done by Dr. Fabian Garcia. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1871 Garcia moved to the U.S. with his grandmother at the age of two. He went on to attend the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. Garcia dedicated his life to naturally improve plant varieties, and in 1921 he delivered the genetic ancestor of all the modern New Mexico green chiles, the now famous “New Mexico #9.” The chiles we get—pretty much guaranteed to have been influenced by Dr. Garcia’s good work—come from small farms around Santa Fe.

Ever since that first encounter with green chiles, we’ve brought literally thousands of pounds of New Mexico green chiles to Ann Arbor to use in a whole range of wonderful ways. If you’re drawn to New Mexico green chiles, you can get it in a number of sandwiches at the Deli (like the #75), and the Southwest Vegetable soup or the Smothered Grits at the Roadhouse. The Chile Cheddar Bread from the Bakehouse is a beautiful way to experience it too. Like so many of the breads at the Bakehouse, it’s made a with a natural sour starter with 18 hours of rise time. The flour is all organic. The flavor is superfine. And like I said, I’ve been eating a lot of it in the last few weeks.

If you pick up the bread after 5 on Mondays and Saturdays it’ll likely still be soft and warm from our ovens. Rip it off by the chunk and eat it. It’s still terrific the following day—buy a loaf, take it home and make toast topped with great olive oil. Make a grilled cheese with it, or even a fried egg and avocado sandwich! It also makes amazing croutons!


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!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments