All of the artists featured on the Made With Passion website are wonderful, passionate people, and you can feel good knowing that your money goes to support them directly. Show and share your love this year by giving something that is made with passion.
Thank you to all of our featured artists. We’re off to a good start, and we couldn’t have done it without the contribution of the fine artists that we love.
Thank you to our first featured food artist, Yankee Doodle Deli, and their Zels gourmet pretzels, which make a wonderful stocking stuffer.
Thank you to Grateful Grahams and their soft, chewy graham crackers, which I know for certain, people will be serving at their parties and putting in stockings this year. Rachel and Marilyn, we are excited to watch your businesses grow. Congratulations on a stellar year.
Thank you to the Unlucky Charms and their decadent Irish pub music that keeps us smiling and stomping through the Holidays.
Thank you to Jason Morgan and his wonderful blog about the self-sustaining arts, especially wine making and bee keeping. Thanks for having us out to smash apples this fall, and for that gallon of fresh apple cider that didn’t last the week.
Thanks to all of our fine digital artists. Niels Maclellan was our first, with his gorgeous and inspiring surrealist art. We also featured budding abstract artist Michael Burleigh and fantasy artists Kevin B. McBriarty and Jesselee Lang. Some of our digital artists offer prints, which would make a fine addition to any home or office.
Thank you to our first photographer, Josefine Jönsson, who’s fine art and eye for fashion really demonstrates her passion for her art. We were also introduced to the astounding portrait work from master photographer Edward Carlisle. Lilyana Karadjova‘s thought provoking and passionate works keep us engaged. Dawn Heumann‘s bold and sensitive eye tells us amazing, and honest stories. All of these artists have prints for sale. Also, some of our featured photographers could create beautiful and memorable holiday photos of your family. Josefine has a 2011 calendar coming out soon, which would make a great gift for anyone that would enjoy a little extra passion every month.
We had oil painter Daryl Urig who’s amazing plein air and subtly impressionistic paintings are just brimming with color, life, and emotion. Daryl’s insightful blog also teaches and inspires us. Daryl has original paintings for sale, which would look great over the fireplace or in any room of the house.
Visionaries & Voices is a community based outreach program that facilitates art among disabled artists. Original, beautiful, and highly collectible artworks from V&V artists are for sale all year in various galleries and exhibits throughout Greater Cincinnati.
Fab Ferments has some amazing, delicious, and naturally preserved foods that are easily gifted. Their gourment krauts, kimchis, and kombuchas are always well received. I am hoping that their pineapple and grape kombucha end up in my stocking.
We love Five Star Foodies‘ compassion and family spirit with their vegan assortment. Why not serve up their kind, delectable items for the holidays?
If you buy milk from the store, Snowville Creamery‘s traditional grass fed, healthy milk should be on your table for the holiday meals. Support local, independent bakers, and consider Cakes by Capano for your holiday cakes, and try their amazing chocolate cream cheese filling. Mindo Chocolate Maker‘s perfect dark chocolate would be the perfect gift for the chocolate lovers in your family. You can also pick up an entire gift basket of assorted Mindo chocolates at the Ann Arbor farmer’s market.
Soon, we will be featuring some more amazing, and passionate artists. Sweet Peace Bakery‘s vegan baked goods will satisfy your sweet tooth without breaking any hearts. HaloMiner‘s green-friendly fashions will keep you carbon neutral. Their fashionable, hip, and always trendy items make thoughtful gifts.
We also look forward to reading about local bee keeper and honey producer Green Toe Gardens. Locally raised honey goes great with coffee or tea. Lone Oak Vineyard‘s Gamay Noir and Pioneer White wines are delicious and affordable. Share them with your friends and family during your holiday meal or as gifts.
Thank you to our local food providers and artists everywhere. We love you. Please share the love and continue supporting your local markets, food, and art communities this holiday season and all year. Shop local and celebrate with your neighbors.
Do you know an artist whose work is made with passion? Send them our way. We’d love to share their story.
Cakes by Capano is a family run, home based business that makes delicious and gorgeous custom cakes for all occasions, including weddings and birthdays. They are Located in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, just 8 minutes from downtown Cincinnati. Cakes by Capano started when Jennifer Capano’s husband, David, told her to go bake a cake.
I’ve always enjoyed baking. My favorite part of going to a wedding was always to see the cake and the details that the artist created. When I became engaged and went to the bridal shows, it was my favorite part of the bridal shows. I was more interested in checking out the cake designs and I wound up designing my own wedding cake.
Shortly after she was married, Jennifer told her husband about her passion. One of the best things that you can do in a marriage is to tell your spouse what you really want. Her husband heard her loud and clear and gave her a cake decorating kit for Christmas in 2002.
When David gave me my toolkit, he told me “Now here’s your toolkit, go and take the classes and don’t let anything hold you back.”
At the time, Wilton was offering three different cake decorating courses. The following spring, Jennifer took all three. Wilton is the industry leader in the cake decorating business, and the Wilton School of Cake Decorating & Confectionary Art is internationally renowned. Wilton has literally written the book on cake decorating.
In the fall of 2003, Jennifer was challenged with her first paying gig. A friend asked Jennifer for a wedding cake. Some people turn down their first big job out of fear of failure. Some people accept and get in over their head. Jennifer, encouraged by her husband, took the job.
I thought to myself, “I can do this.” I realized that I could make a living off of something that I loved to do and people love what I do. My husband told me that I needed to take myself more seriously because people liked what I did, they loved it and they were willing to pay me for it… that’s how Cakes by Capano was really born.
Jennifer learned early on, even when she worked with a cake decorator for her own wedding cake, that creating a cake can be a collaborative art. It’s about finding out what the customer envisions and then making that vision a reality. However, sometimes the customer doesn’t mind being surprised.
My Ode to Peacock cake! The client wanted a wedding shower cake, and she gave me complete creative freedom. All I knew is that the bride’s theme were peacock feathers. So I had peacock feathers and a color scheme to work with… and the client’s budget.
I couldn’t find peacock feathers to stick in the cake so I looked for drawings or photographs of peacock feathers so that I could make intricate designs of the feathers. Using that as my inspiration, I came up with an abstract peacock feather in the colors of teal, purple and gold which covered the front and side of the cake. The client’s first reaction was priceless!
She gasped and was just floored because it was exactly what she wanted and she didn’t even know what she wanted. She had something in her mind’s eye but couldn’t tell me and I made exactly what she wanted.
She’s become one of my best clients and has sent me lots of referrals. Whenever she orders a cake, she never tells me exactly what she wants, she gives me a theme or a color scheme and lets me run with it. I always custom design her cakes with my creativity and inspiration.
It’s clients like her that make me love what I do so much, they allow me to be an artist, not just a craftsman.
Jennifer continuously educates herself by reading books and trade magazines. She’s also a current member of ICES, the largest professional organization dedicated to her craft. Yet, Jennifer develops most of her skills through her vast experience and hard work.
Cakes by Capano gets most of their business from word of mouth. They have many repeat customers, and there’s always a holiday or event around the corner that deserves a cake.
Jennifer’s busy enough that she can’t do it on her own.
Last year, my husband joined me full-time and we began helping one another in our businesses as full-fledged partners and that’s when things **really** took off for us.
Jennifer lists her husband, David, as her biggest inspiration. She’s also inspired by other skilled cake decorators.
All are unique and have their own special gift; everyone has something special to give and I find that truly amazing and inspirational.
Cakes by Capano is known for Jennifer’s amazing custom icing recipe and her fabulous chocolate cream cheese filling.
Cakes by Capano also makes cupcakes. Cupcakes are finger food, so they require less cleanup, making them ideal for your child’s classroom or your next company meeting. Cupcakes are always a hit with the kids.
I asked Jennifer how she keeps her two children and David from putting their fingers in the icing, especially working out of her own kitchen.
Dave gets to lick the bowl when I’m done. Our daughter is given a cupcake and her own icing bags to decorate if she pleases. Our baby is given his own icing bag with tip on to suck on, to stay out of the rest of the icing. He’s also given access to the crowns of the cake that are cut off which is open to the rest of the family as well.
Since Cakes by Capano is a family business, I asked Jennifer what the family favorites were and how the family feels about the cake business in their kitchen.
The baby loves it because mommy’s icing is his favorite thing. Our daughter is my best critic, she has to critique my cakes before they go out the door, and she also likes to decorate her own cakes whenever possible, just like mommy. Jody liked the Elmo cake I made best, he’s infatuated with Elmo. Thia’s favorite is anything girly, the Peace Sign cake was a smash with her, and probably the wedding cake that she helped me deliver. She’s also very proud and loves all of her birthday cakes because she gets to decide what birthday cake she wants every year. Dave doesn’t have a favorite cake, his favorite thing is to watch me work.
Cakes by Capano knows that where there’s cake, there’s a celebration. Each piece of cake is served from Jennifer’s home, full of wholesome, loving, devotion. Cakes by Capano understands how important your celebration is to you and your family because it’s just as important to their family, and they’re proud to be a part of it.
We could go on celebrating, but Jennifer has to get back to work crafting wonderful confections for her customers.
I have a three-tiered, Sweet 16 Birthday, purple, and aqua zebra print cake for Saturday.
Telephone or email your order today. You don’t have to wait for your next birthday or wedding to find an occasion—order a “Monday” cake. I’m sure that Jennifer will whip you up something amazing.
Mention Made With Passion and receive 20% off your next order from Cakes by Capano.
If you think that cake decorating might be your passion, Jennifer Capano teaches Wilton cake decorating classes at local Michaels craft stores. Get started, and feed your passion.
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Snowville™ Creamery provides great tasting, high quality, farm fresh, minimally processed milk and cream to consumers in Ohio and neighboring areas. They feed the cows a special diet, which yields milk that tastes better and is higher in Omega 3 fatty acids and CLA, which leads to leaner and healthier milk drinkers. Snowville Creamery isn’t keeping the cows’ diet a secret. It’s grass.
Warren Taylor is the owner of Snowville Creamery. He graduated from Ohio State University with a Dairy Technology degree and worked for Safeway Dairy Division designing production facilities for 10 years. He spent another 10 years as an independent consultant doing the same thing for such dairy giants as Land O’ Lakes, Tropicana, Dannon, and Daisy.
In 1995, Warren’s neighbors were farmers. Bill Dix and Stacy Hall had started a small herd of cows on their farm. Instead of raising only Holstein cows that yield more milk than other breeds, Bill and Stacy raised a combination of Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Friesian and Jersey cows. They mixed the herd for improved genetic diversity, health, and sustainability.
Bill and Stacy were passionate about raising a self-sustainable, grass fed herd. The cows were allowed to graze grass on their own. They were a healthy, happy family of cows that got plenty of exercise as they walked up the hill to the milking station twice a day.
Warren and his wife, Victoria, were treated with fresh milk from Bill and Stacy’s herd on a regular basis. Warren pasteurized the milk himself on the stove top and his family enjoyed the milk’s richer, creamier flavor and added health benefits. Warren and Victoria’s two children also loved the milk.
Our kids are milk drinkers. They’ll pour themselves a big glass of milk and empty it, and pour it again, and drink it again.
In the winter, when Bill and Stacy’s herd were allowed to dry up and weren’t providing milk, Warren and his family had to return to the milk on the store shelves.
We were reminded every winter, the difference between Bill and Stacy’s milk and the typical milk in the marketplace.
Warren and Victoria believed that the superior milk should be provided to the rest of the world to enjoy and reap the benefits.
So, the idea of doing this has been percolating around Victoria and I and Bill and Stacy for a decade and a half.
Warren Taylor, of course, knew how to build a processing plant, so he got together with Bill and Stacy and they agreed to create a creamery right there on Bill and Stacy’s farm. Snowville Creamery was born.
They broke ground in December of 2006 and were in full production by December of the following year. Having the plant on the premises allows Snowville Creamery to minimally process the milk. Therefore, Snowville Creamery milk is fresher than most milk that you find in the supermarket. All milk from Snowville Creamery is on the store shelf within 48 hours of it being collected from the cows.
Snowville Creamery follows the minimally processed manifesto by pasteurizing the milk and cream to the lowest legal temperature, which allows the milk to retain more of its original flavor and nutritional value.
Snowville Creamery also doesn’t homogenize their milk. Homogenization is done to provide a consistent product to consumers. Part of the process puts milk under extreme pressure and pipes it through tiny holes to break down the fat molecules. This prevents the milk cream from separating, but it also drastically changes the properties of the fats. Some people who have difficulty digesting heavily processed milk from the store shelf can actually tolerate non-homogenized milk.
If milk were potatoes, Snowville Creamery’s product would be grandma’s lumpy, homemade mashed potatoes, whereas the other brands would be consistent, but unremarkable, instant potatoes, made from flakes. For those who like their potatoes to taste like potatoes, the latter doesn’t compare with grandma’s. Besides, the lumps are fun. Be sure to shake your Snowville Creamery milk before you drink it, otherwise all of the rich cream will end up in your glass, and that wouldn’t be fair to the next person.
Milk from Snowville Creamery is beneficial to you both in taste and nutrition. However, there would be no Snowville Creamery if it weren’t sustainable. The same passion that drives Warren Taylor and his team to deliver superior milk to local markets drives Bill and Stacy to be passionate about sustainable production. Grass fed cows produce less waste. The manure from grass fed cows can be put back into the earth, and naturally grown grass doesn’t have to be transported to the farm, which reduces emissions and cost.
Sustainable farmers believe that with continuing ingenuity, there may be no limit to the size of farms that may be self-sustainable. However, currently, large factory farms are not sustainable. Factory farms must haul in feed and haul out manure. Sustainable farms do neither.
We are inspired by “food revolutionaries” including Joan Dye Gussow, author of This Organic Life, Michael Pollan author of Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Foods International. Likewise, we are inspired by Jeni Britton-Bauer, owner of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, who is an innovator and strong supporter of locally sourced ingredients such as Snowville Creamery milk & cream.
Another source of inspiration comes from within our Snowville Creamery team. They amaze us with their dedication to the cause of farm fresh, minimally processed milk. Good food for all!
You invest in the land, invest in the cows, and the rest is mother nature. Grass produces happy, healthy cows. The cows eat it, live in it, and sleep in it. Grass fed, pastured, cows are the simple formula. There’s no secret here. In fact, Warren Taylor will share his plans with anybody who asks.
Recently, Slow Foods Columbus sent 9 delegates to the Terra Madre Conference in Italy. Warren Taylor and Jeni Britton-Bauer were proud to be two of the members that were selected to share ideas at the conference with other food revolutionaries.
Minimally processed, grass-based milk is rich in Omega 3s and boasts 5 times the amount of CLA that aids immune health, increases lean body mass, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Besides nutrition, grass-based milk tastes like a dream! We have received hundreds of emails from persons all across the Mid-Atlantic region voicing their re-discovery of milk as a result of Snowville Creamery.
With our dedicated team of milk advocates, we are able to spread the good news of farm fresh milk at numerous community events, tastings, conferences, festivals and farm markets. We are truly grateful to have such strong grassroots support. Without the support of our customers and grocery markets, we could not bring farm fresh milk to market.
The Snowville Creamery milk plant is located in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio just outside of Athens. They distribute their product to over 80 grocery stores throughout Ohio, including Cincinnati. Their milk is also used at many coffee shops such as Coffee Emporium, Donkey Coffee & Espresso, and A Touch of Earth in the North Market. You will also find their products in Whole Foods Markets in the Washington DC area, Pittsburgh, Lexington, and Louisville. Visit the Snowville Creamery Web site to discover all the locations where you can get their great tasting milk and cream. Also, be sure to friend Snowville Creamery on Facebook to stay in touch with all of the great things happening with Snowville Creamery, Warren Taylor, and the milk industry.
I originally discovered Snowville Creamery last summer, at a local screening of the movie Fresh. Fresh is similar to the film Food, Inc., except Fresh talks more about solutions, like sustainable farming and community gardens. Warren Taylor was on a panel discussion after the show, and it was inspiring to see the passionate way that he talked about the farm, the cows, and his milk. Snowville Creamery is helping to lead a food revolution. Supporting it is as simple as making an informed choice at the supermarket. Pour a glass of passion from Snowville Creamery and join the revolution.
Watch a video blog, narrated by Warren Taylor, hosted by Whole Foods Market.
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Five Star Foodies® is a locally owned, family run business that provides gourmet vegan foods and drinks to the Cincinnati area and online. Five Star Foodies is dedicated and compassionate about food thanks to a family tradition that’s been passed on from generation to generation.
Valerie Williams is the CEO of Five Star Foodies. The inspiration behind the company began over 30 years ago, when Valerie was just 14. Inspired by Dick Gregory’s book, “Cookin With Mother Nature”, Valerie marched into her family’s kitchen and threw away all of the unhealthy foods. She then immediately declared that the family was now vegetarian. According to Valerie, her family embraced the change.
My mom, having always been an outstanding and innovative cook, had no problem continuing on and hardly missed a beat without the meat and many other ingredients I wouldn’t allow.
The family developed many new recipes over the years.
In 1980, they started a vegan restaurant in Cincinnati, named Christo’s and Drivaki’s. It was a ground-breaking endeavor in the field of vegan cuisine. Valerie’s three eldest sons practically grew up in the restaurant. Yet, unfortunately, Christo’s and Drivaki’s was before its time, and the restaurant closed in 1987.
Having never forgotten those days, Valerie’s son Christian wanted to revive some of the award winning recipes. He helped Valerie create Five Star Foodies as a way to continue those quality, gourmet vegan foods.
Valerie is proud that she raised all five of her children vegetarian. Strict vegetarians and vegans question their food sources. They must develop a real relationship and trust between themselves, as consumers, and their food sources. Ultimately, a large number of vegetarians, and vegans, become foodies. Foodies are people who are passionate and educated about quality food and nutrition.
It is our passion to create outstanding delicious and nutritious vegan food. Our company is a business with a “conscious.” This is to say we feel that throughout our daily practices, operation, and leadership we have a higher purpose that transcends profit maximization. Our focus instead is on delivering value to our stakeholders, employees, customers, suppliers and the community. We exemplify the culture of a conscious business and the acronym TACTILE (Trust, Authenticity, Caring, Transparency, Integrity, Learning and Empowerment). Tactile means something that can be touched and felt. When a person walks into a conscious business, such as ours, they can actually feel the positive energy in the air. This is what we try to create and pass on to the energy, integrity and mouth-watering deliciousness of our food.
Indeed, Valerie raised more than vegetarians. She raised five foodies. They don’t just eat and cook food. They live it.
The kitchen is where the key members of our family and company feel at home and find the most joy! It’s where we come together to rejuvenate and to ignite our passions through food.
Valerie’s mom, Mary, always at the heart of the family business, helps out with Five Star Foodies five days a week. Valerie’s father, an artist, also lends a hand when needed.
Valerie has been in the food industry for over 35 years. She has worked as a personal chef, taught cooking classes, worked in the grocery retail business, and catered. Valerie also passed the passion on to the next generation.
My son Graydon is a trained chef with a food science degree and would remind you of a mad scientist in the kitchen. He gets that look in his eye when he starts to create and develop anything to do with food.
Valerie’s eldest son Mundy is a self-taught graphic artist and creates all of the company’s graphics, packaging, Web site, and marketing materials.
Valerie’s son Christian, her nephew Josh Goldstein, and her sister Sarah Wise help fill in the remaining spots of the company. Five Star Foodies was founded in 2007, and thanks to all of the combined talent and passion, by 2008, the family business was already a success.
Five Star Foodies offers a variety of vegan items that you can find in local stores and online. In the refrigerated section are an assortment of ciders that are made from raw, fresh ingredients. The ciders start with fresh squeezed apples from local orchards, and other raw ingredients are added for variety. The Ginger Cider is the company’s most popular drink, and is also my wife’s favorite. It’s a tart and fruity cider with a satisfying amount of fresh, spicy, ginger. The new Veggie Cider “Green Label” is my favorite.
The Veggie Cider Green has vegetable juices added, so it’s a guiltless way to consume your regular serving of vegetables. There are similar veggie cider drinks from other vendors, but I’ve yet to find one as enjoyable as Five Star Foodies’ veggie mix. It’s naturally sweet, and the fresh ginger and hint of celery adds a bit of zing. It makes for a healthy drink that’s every bit as enjoyable as a carbonated soft drink, like ginger ale. The Veggie Cider Red is similar, but contains added beets. The Hibiscus Cider has more vitamin C than orange juice, but contains a lot less sugars. A swig of the Jamaican Cider will make you think you’re in the Caribbean.
In the freezer section, you’ll find Five Star Foodies’ frozen vegan selections, like their best selling Artichoke Burger. Kids love the Sloppy Joe, and the flame roasted Gourmet Griller is great all year around. You just heat and eat, so it’s easy to add these meatless alternatives to your diet.
Valerie describes her influences and inspirations.
My influences are Julia Child, Suzy Adrian from La Petite Pierre, international cuisine, exotic spices, exotic salts, kimchi, kombucha, family meals, any reason to celebrate, and my unquietable mind that is constantly composing new menus and infinite product possibilities.
Valerie is proud of all of the hard work that’s been put into Five Star Foodies and the accomplishments that they’ve achieved.
It’s easy to think of all the mistakes we’ve made but what’s more amazing is all the things we’ve intuitively done right. I’m proud of our endurance (since it’s been a little like being on a stair master) and our ability to hold on to our vision all the while continually finding ways to get around all the many obstacles a small business faces daily. We’re thankful to have been graced with so many good people along the way, and hope that continues. So it’s not a single prized accomplishment, it’s everything that we’ve created thus far and continue to create each day. Five Star Foodies for us is a prized accomplishment!
Five Star Foodies is dedicated to providing quality and kind food. Purchasing their products supports local food providers and a family that cares.
We are a vegan company, but the most important thing to us is the quality and integrity of our ingredients. We strive to promote and provide healthy eating solutions, even if it starts with only one meal a week.
Valerie has the following words of advice for those trying to get started in the food industry.
Get ready for the ride of your life! It’s been like a constant treadmill. There’s so much uncertainty—endurance and courage are your only hope and best friends, but that’s where all your growth lies, personal and business. I’ve been in the food business my whole life and there is a specialness to the relationship bonds that are created under the stress of long hours, creative energies and pushing each other to the limit.
Five Star Foodies is doing what they love, with the people they love. It’s a simple formula, really, and it produces food that is truly made with passion.
You can find Five Star Foodies’ delicious entrées and beverages at Whole Foods Market throughout the mid-Atlantic region, Bigg’s/Remke Markets, Keller’s IGA in Clifton, Clifton Natural Foods, Cincinnati Natural Foods, Park + Vine, Madison’s at Findlay Market, Keegan Seafood, Coffee Emporium, Bon Bonerie, Salt of the Earth, Carl’s Deli, The Loving Hut, Susan’s Natural World, as well as many natural food stores throughout the Tri-County area and Washington D.C.
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Mindo Chocolate Makers is a local company in Dexter, Michigan that hand processes the best tasting chocolate that I’ve tried. A family owned business that only started in 2009, Mindo is making a huge splash in the area, with several local food businesses preferring to use Mindo’s single-origin chocolate due to the hard working Mindo Chocolate team.
Barbara Wilson, a busy lady who holds a master’s degree in public health, was able to sneak in a few minutes to provide us with an interview. Her husband, Joe “Jose” Meza, worked his way through college at Eastern Michigan University as an auto mechanic. After earning his degree, he opened a Volvo repair shop in a garage behind his parents house in 1977. Since then, Wilson and her husband have expanded the company into a family of auto service businesses under the arborMotion brand.
In 2004, Wilson’s husband decided to visit his home country of Ecuador after being away for over 40 years. On his trip, Meza had an opportunity to see a lot of the country, but he fell in love with the lush highlands on the west side of the Andes mountains in the rural area of Mindo.
On Meza’s return visit to Mindo, he brought his family to show them the wonderful place where he might retire. They purchased a piece of land in Mindo in 2007, with the intention of building a winter home. Being serial entrepreneurs, the family decided to turn the home into a cafe with living space above it, named El Quetzel de Mindo, after one of the many colorful native birds of the region. When the family isn’t staying there, the rooms are available for rent.
“The land is near the main square in Mindo, but far enough away from town that you only hear birds and the sound of the river flowing”, Wilson said. The family now spends part of the year in Mindo and the rest in Dexter, Michigan.
Mindo Chocolate Makers got started when the cafe began selling brownies that were extremely popular. Wilson decided that the next step was to make the brownies even more delicious by using better chocolate. The husband and wife team found a small farm in Ecuador that sold cocoa beans and bought a 50 pound bag.
The first time that we made chocolate, it was the most delicious chocolate that we ever tasted.
Again, not being able to resist their entrepreneurial spirit, the couple decided that they had to share the chocolate with everyone back home, and they started a two country chocolate making business.
Mindo Chocolate Makers purchases their cocoa beans from an Ecuadorian farmer who is also a local medical doctor. Wilson and her team select only the best condition shade grown cocoa pods from Arriba Nacional cacao trees on the certified organic farm. Ensuring that the beans are extracted from the high quality pods quickly, ensures a premium chocolate that you won’t find from a larger chocolate manufacturer.
The beans are fermented, dried, and ground into nibs in Ecuador. The nibs are then flown to Dexter, Michigan for further processing.
In Dexter, the nibs are ground with a stone grinder into chocolate liqueur. Some of the liqueur is separated into cocoa butter and 100% non-alkalized cocoa powder. The remaining liqueur is combined with organic evaporated cane juice and cocoa butter to make hand formed chocolate bars.
We are one of the very few chocolate makers who select the beans from the farmers, ferment, dry and roast the beans ourselves in order to follow the entire process from the moment the beans come out of the pod until they are made into chocolate bars. We make our own cocoa butter and cocoa powder. We do not add soy lecithin to our chocolate and we make our chocolate in a wheat free facility.
Wilson is mostly self taught from the Internet, books, and information gleaned from other chocolate makers, but she has also attended courses at Ecole Chocolat, a school run by master chocolatier Pam Williams.
Wilson says that she is inspired by Patric chocolate, Amano chocolate, Askinosie chocolate, Taza chocolate, Theo chocolate, and DeVries chocolate.
My passion is go to great lengths to learn how to develop the best possible flavored chocolate.
I’m not sure there needs to be any improvement. I had a chance to try Mindo Chocolate’s 67% chocolate bar, which came from their 2010 summer harvest, at the Ann Arbor Homegrown Festival 2010. The chocolate was very smooth, and not bitter at all. It was the best tasting chocolate that I’d ever tasted, and I’ve tried many of the bars available at Zingerman’s and Whole Foods. If I can source these bars for my own cupboards on a regular basis, I may never buy a different brand. The chocolate bars are also reasonably priced.
You can purchase the bars at Zingerman’s Roadhouse and the cocoa powder at Zingerman’s Next Door, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Chocolate from Mindo Chocolate Makers is my new favorite chocolate and is one of the few hand crafted single-origin chocolate bars available locally.
Please check out the Mindo Chocolate Makers Web site for more information and to find the local shops using premium Mindo Chocolate in their goodies. The company’s Facebook page is often updated with events such as tours and tastings. They have an event tomorrow evening, November 2 at 6:30pm, called “Chocolate Making from the Cocoa Bean” at their Dexter kitchen where you can experience the processing of chocolate from bean to bar by their chocolate maker Dan Soebbing. They have some tasting sessions coming up on Saturday, November 20 at Lone Oak Vineyards in Grass Lake, if you miss the first event.
MWP would like to thank Barbara for taking the time out of her busy day to answer our interview questions. We wish Joseph and Barbara all the best with their plans, whether they keep starting new businesses or finally retire to Mindo. Their hard work at starting this business, ensuring such a wonderful organic process, and marketing and sharing their wonderful new chocolate is very inspiring.
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Park + Vine, a downtown Cincinnati green-friendly general store has moved to a larger space near Over the Rhine. They’re having a grand reopening and are inviting everyone to their new location to celebrate. You’ll be serenaded with live music while you check out their new place.
We’re excited because Park + Vine now has room to stock more great foods.
There’s some crazy rumor that there will be free samples from various local providers. MWP favorites Grateful Grahams and Fab Ferments and upcoming Five Star Foodies will be making appearances there. All I can say is, give me some Groovy Grape Kombucha and Chocolate Grateful Grahams, please.
Park + Vine Grand Reopening
Park + Vine
1202 Main Street
Friday, October 29 from 6 to 10 PM
There’s even an after party at MOTR, at 1345 Main Street.
Congratulations to Marilyn Baker and the Yankee Doodle Deli for being named the Manufacturing Client of the Year by SCORE, a local, small business consulting service.
The Yankee Doodle Deli, owned by Marilyn Baker, makes gourmet pretzels in three delicious varieties that you can find in local stores and online. The Yankee Doodle Deli and their Zels™ brand were the first review we did here at MWP.
You can read more about the award from the original article that appeared in the Kentucky Enquirer. Go to the official Yankee Doodle Deli Web site for more information and for ordering, and follow the Yankee Doodle Deli on Facebook to stay updated.
MWP attended the Homegrown Festival 2010 held in Ann Arbor, Michigan to check out the local food producers, and found a couple of real gems to share.
The Homegrown Festival is put together by Slow Food Huron Valley, the local chapter of Slow Food USA™. Slow Food USA got their name from the belief that we can achieve better quality by “slowing down” the industrialization of food, which has been leading to standardized tastes and the annihilation of thousands of food varieties and flavors. Today, the local chapters are also focusing on growing locally to ensure that we don’t need to rely on imported food for food security, the fair availability of food to local residents.
I walked to Kerrytown, the old red brick road section of Ann Arbor where the Ann Arbor Farmers Market is located and where the third annual festival was being held. I met up with my friend Beth, who had volunteered to work at the festival. She was busy checking IDs and selling tickets for the many wine and beer vendors that attended the show. Shortly, her replacement arrived and Beth and I checked out the booths together.
It was rather chilly at the festival, and it had rained earlier, but there was quite a large turnout. The crowd was slow moving, forcing you to take a patient, leisurely stroll through. The beer and wine tent was constantly packed, as well as the pavilion which also had beer and wine vendors. The covered areas where local restaurants were serving up food was crammed full of people, hungry for a bite of warm food to fight away the cold bite of the damp weather.
Beth and I both got a slice of the Napoletana pizza from Ann Arbor’s own Silvio’s Organic Pizza. The dough was almost like pita bread, and the contents tasted mostly of fresh tomato. I couldn’t really taste the basil, garlic, and oregano. I imagine that it would be better ordered fresh from the restaurant, and I intend to visit their restaurant to try it again, as well as some of the other 20 varieties of organic pizza that they have on their menu.
The booths that just had information and pamphlets from the local food coops, food kitchens, and Project Grow were a bit less busy, allowing plenty of time to read material and ask questions.
Here at MWP, we like to focus on the little guys though, that are full of passion but still struggling to get going. We like to recognize these people, to give them incentive, and to highlight their accomplishments to inspire our readers to find their own passion. There weren’t that many of these at the festival, because booth space was limited, and mostly taken by larger organizations. However, we did find a couple real gems, in the way of Mindo Chocolate Makers and Green Toe Gardens.
Mindo Chocolate Makers
I’m a huge lover of chocolate, and have tried many varieties, including mildly dark chocolate which is my favorite. I was naturally drawn to the booth where Barbara Wilson from Mindo Chocolate Makers was set up. I unfortunately was low on cash, so I didn’t think that I’d be able to try any of their chocolate that day. As I was taking one of their business cards, however, Barbara kindly offered a free sample of both their 67% and 77% chocolate bars from their summer harvest. I normally prefer my chocolate around 60% cocoa, so I tried their lighter one. I thanked her for the sample and walked away from the booth as I let the chocolate melt in my mouth. I expected it to be a bit bitter, but it wasn’t at all. It was nice and smooth, and I instantly thought that I should have tried the darker one, as well.
Mindo Chocolate Makers is a two country operation. They hand select their pods from local organic farmers in Ecuador, where the beans are then fermented, dried, and roasted. The roasted “nibs” are flown into Detroit Metro airport where they’re taken to the processing operation in Dexter, Michigan. Once in Dexter, they’re hand processed into chocolate bars, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter. You can purchase the bars and powder at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, in Ann Arbor, and I highly recommend their chocolate. It may be my new favorite chocolate and is one of the few hand crafted single-origin chocolate bars available locally.
Green Toe Gardens
I was intrigued by the booth of Green Toe Gardens, where co-founder Rich Wieske’s smiling bearded face welcomed visitors while constantly showing off honey comb to people who asked about the process.
After waiting in the small line, I walked up to the booth where Wieske was offering free samples and asked which was the most popular. He said that the buckwheat and cinnamon were the most popular that night, but as far as traditional honey went, which he had three varieties of, he suggested the Wild Detroit Honey, which I tried.
The honey was mildly sweet, with a buttery flavor and a slight zing which I imagine was from the unfiltered pollen. Wieske was interested in my feedback, and I said “I’ve never tasted anything like it.” It really was a wonderful, unique flavor.
Green Toe Gardens is a community based apiary in Detroit, Michigan where they bottle raw and unfiltered honey for their own use and for sale. You can buy the honey two Saturdays of the month at Royal Oak Farmers Market and at Avalon Bakery in Detroit.
Even if you’ve had raw honey before, I’d definitely recommend trying all the varieties that Green Toe Gardens offers. Different honeys really do have individual unique flavors, and it’s worth trying every one just for the excitement of having something you’ve never tasted before.
Although the weather has been unseasonably cold for the first three years of the Homegrown Festival, there have always been plenty of people coming to check out the local food scene. We recommend it for a lot of fun, drinking, music, and for finding out what’s going on in the Huron Valley Area of Michigan food scene. We hope to see you there next year!
MWP attended the third annual Homegrown Festival 2010 in Ann Arbor on Saturday, hosted by Slow Food Huron Valley. Although the weather was cool, and there was some rain early on and later drizzle, a lot of people showed up for the music, food, beverages, and information. Next week we hope to review some of the local food makers that we met there.
Today, Amy Tobin made s’mores on Cincinnati’s Fox 19 morning news program with Rachel DesRochers’ Grateful Grahams. Amy is a local, Cincinnati, food and cooking expert. Just last week, Amy talked about Grateful Grahams on the radio on Cincinnati’s Q102, and we were all excited. This morning, she featured Grateful Grahams on TV during her segment on grilling out.
We reviewed Grateful Grahams over a month ago on Made With Passion, and we’ve been having fun watching things unfold with Rachel’s young business. Congratulations to Rachel, and everyone else involved with Grateful Grahams, and thank you, Amy Tobin and Fox 19.