Greyston Bakery

Brownies and cookies are two of the most popular kinds of baked goods in the United States and beyond. Both prepackaged and bakery fresh, they fly off store shelves effortlessly, as a daily coffee accompaniment or an occasional indulgent treat.

I recently discovered a bakery with a difference and a purpose, who produce a very special range of these products. Greyston Bakery is a social enterprise who train and employ people who face barriers to traditional employment. These so-called unemployable people can range from people without a high school diploma, to people with a criminal record. Greyston’s motto is: Eat a brownie, change a life.

Since it was established in 1982 in Yonkers, NY; the bakery has evolved and developed into a successful commercial bakery whose products are sold by Whole Foods Markets across the United States. Also, Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream uses Greyston’s brownies as it’s signature ingredient.

I spoke to Mindy Srebnik, the Education and Demo Coordinator at Greyston, about her company and the work that they do. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.

 

Noosh Brands

Almonds are well known as being a healthy, tasty snack food and cooking ingredient. In recent years, food companies and manufacturers have increasingly woken up and taken notice of the not so humble almond, and it’s many potential uses and properties. Almond butter and almond milk are two of the main ways that consumers have been incorporating almonds into their everyday diets.

I was really excited to discover a new company, at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, who have taken this trend one step further by basing their entire brand around the Californian almond. Noosh Brands was founded and established by Sarine Sahatjian, and was based on the simple idea of wanting to produce healthy, tasty snack choices for her two sons. The name Noosh comes from Sarine’s cultural roots and is the Armenian word form almond.

Noosh have moved beyond almond butter and almond milk, into the realms of gourmet almond butter, almond cooking oil, almond protein powder and almond baking flour. The company minimises their food waste by using most of the almond in the production of their range of products.

I spoke to Steven Sahatjian, from Noosh Brands, about his company, how it started out and about their products. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.

Ines Rosales

As a frequent visitor to Spain and primarily Andalusia, I love to explore the exciting produce and unfamiliar foods that I see. Andalusia is especially interesting as it’s past Islamic, Christian and Jewish histories have influenced it’s cuisine and culture. When I travel, I’m a food tourist. Other people buy ornaments and trinkets, whereas I look for interesting food to bring home with me to relive my adventures. When I visit Sevilla, some of my tried and tested, regular food souvenirs are hot chocolate mix and mantecados de aceite de oliva from La Despensa de Palacio and tortas from the Ines Rosales shop on Plaza de San Francisco.

Until I first visited Sevilla, I had never heard of tortas. However, on my first visit several years ago, while exploring the city’s charming streets, I randomly discovered a shop with royal blue signage bearing the name ‘Ines Rosales’, flanked by posters displaying pastries and indicating that the business had been established since 1910. Naturally, the curious foodie in me had to taste their wares – I was smitten and have loved tortas ever since.

So, what are tortas (also known as tortas de aceite)?

Traditional tortas are round cracker breads that are sweet and delicately flavoured with aniseed. They contain extra virgin olive oil which gives them their unique crisp texture.

At this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City. I happily chanced on the Ines Rosales stand and realised that I knew very little about the story behind this iconic Spanish brand. I spoke to Lucía Conejo-Mir from Ines Rosales USA to learn more about how the company’s namesake, a woman from a small village on the outskirts of Sevilla, popularised an obscure local pastry and how it evolved into a much loved Spanish snack food. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.

 

Bob’s Red Mill

Our foodie-driven culture and society is one where producers entice consumers with gourmet delights and healthy treats that follow what they mutually perceive to be the next industry trend or fashion.  I often use this forum to talk to food producers about their new, innovative products that broadly or loosely fall into this category.  However, there are established brands with longevity and gravitas that are often taken for granted, and remind me of why I get excited about food.  Bob’s Red Mill is definitely one such brand.

In a world of low carb and keto diets, where carbohydrates have often been demonised; Bob’s Red Mill loudly and proudly champions a whole grain diet, rich in complex carbohydrates.  Bob’s Red Mill was set up in 1978 by Bob Moore in Milwaukie, Oregon; and was born out of the belief that eating whole grains and natural foods was beneficial and essential to achieve good health.  Aside from producing healthy foods, one of the core values of the business is that they share their ownership and profits with their staff.

Fast forwarding to 2019, Bob’s Red Mill now has global distribution of an exhaustively broad range of natural foods, ranging from flours and whole grains, to baking mixes and wholesome snack bars.  They also have specialist product ranges that cater to the culinary needs of people who follow paleo-friendly and gluten free diets.

I was honoured to recently meet Bob Moore, one of my food heroes.  He told me the story of how he established his business. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.

True Masa

Mexican food is a popular cuisine for both home cooks and restaurant diners alike. Mexico has a rich, ancient cultural history which is inextricably linked to its culinary heritage. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the 16th century was one of the primary events in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. The arrival of the Spanish and subsequent immigrants has brought many new foods and cooking techniques to Mexico.

Since the pre-Hispanic period, some of the core ingredients used have been and remain corn, beans and chili peppers. Dried corn, via a long, complex process known as nixtamalisation, is softened, ground and transformed into a corn dough known as masa. Masa forms the basis of many staples in the Mexican diet such as corn tortillas, chilaquiles and tamales.

Corn tortillas are soft flat breads that are an essential part of the Mexican dinner table and are served as accompaniments to most dishes. In the UK, due to the complexities of producing masa, these tortillas are generally made out of dried masa that is made into a flour called masa harina.

Hence, I was really excited to discover a London-based company called True Masa who use masa to produce both fresh and vacuum-packed corn tortillas using traditional Mexican ingredients, methods and equipment. I spoke to Alastair Westwood, the General Manager of True Masa, who told me the story of his company. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.