Element 112 Toledo Ohio Restaurant Simply Jess Blog Food

Element 112 : Food Down to its Roots

Toledo food in its perfectly elemental form

Element 112 is truly a restaurant unlike any other here in Toledo, Ohio. Chef Chris Nixon, a proud St John’s Titan, is a remarkable, gifted chef who never quite expected to return to his hometown. Chef Nixon is the dishwasher, accountant, server, executive chef and one of the principal owners of Element 112 located at 5737 Main St, Sylvania, Ohio. Here, he brings together pieces of the esteemed restaurants he had the privilege to work at, as well as the four basic elements of earth, wind, fire, and water. With all of this, Chris created Element 112 which opened in October of 2012.

Element 112 Toledo Ohio Restaurant Simply Jess Blog Food
Executive Chef, Owner – Chris Nixon

Element perfectly fits the entirety of the restaurant from the atmosphere to the food and even the staff. Both simple and complex, every detail appears to be precise yet the attitude is about not taking oneself too seriously. The meal is about the experience, and the experience is about the customer. From a basic, friendly ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ patrons can expect a seasonally driven, ever changing menu using only food sourced from ethical and the highest quality sources, without the pretentious white tablecloth. The standard is to meet the expectations of the customers.

Element 112 Toledo Ohio Restaurant Simply Jess Blog Food

Guests are asked about dietary restrictions, foods they honestly dislike, and personal preferences when they come to dine at Element. Vegan, vegetarian, carnivore, allergies – all are welcome and treated with the same respect and served the highest quality meal. Chef Nixon says he positions himself in the lovely and immaculate full french-kitchen, in such a way that he can not only see the food going out, but he can also see the plates returning. Each plate is to serve the needs of the person eating it, not to fulfill the pride of the chef creating it. This is why the staff at Element 112 wants you to be honest about your food preferences. They cultivate each dish for you, everything made from scratch, and tailored to your tastebuds. Food is a subjective matter.

Element 112 Toledo Ohio Restaurant Simply Jess Blog Food

Each menu has certain staples: beef, chicken, seafood; but you will rarely find the same item, served the same way twice. We are meant to eat a variety of foods, colors, herbs and spices. Variety isn’t just the spice of life, it is in the natural flow of the seasons and how we were made to eat. Now you can see why there is such a flexibility to the menu, the chefs are used to being flexible with the seasons, and supply. When food is sourced daily from honest, transparent sources supply isn’t perfectly consistent, nor identical from day to day. This too creates the element of uniqueness. Communication is vital and trust is built with the direct suppliers of all the food served at the restaurant. The lamb farmer, and the seafood supplier alike carry the same high ethical standards and communicate the day-by-day changes of their inventory. Supplies are then directly delivered to the restaurant where Chef Nixon butchers his own cuts of meat to accommodate the exact needs of the restaurant.

Element 112 Toledo Ohio Restaurant Simply Jess Blog Food

Year-round you will always find the freshest and nutrient packed herbs at Element 112. The staff master gardener, Gail, may have the freshest room in the house. Several rows of planter boxes and rows of lights keep the garden producing constantly. Soil samples are taken on a regular basis to ensure nutritional quality and the organic waste from the kitchen is reserved for compost, so little to nothing goes to the trash. Chef Nixon says that when he finds a dish is lacking or he feels the need to add an herb, he can go to Gail, describe the taste he wants to create, and she can provide guidance and recommendations, and sometimes a honest little “no.” if his selection is not going to work out.

Element 112 Toledo Ohio Restaurant Simply Jess Blog Food

The staff is also well taken care of. This extended family shares meals everyday before the restaurant opens, giving the team full bellies to meet their nutritional needs as well. A sit down meal gives way for constructive criticism and allowing for changes in the evenings offerings. Each evening the team has a balanced meal, giving them the fuel they need to do their job, and care for the customers, not just given a meal that will weigh them down, making them feel sluggish or leaving them hungry through the evening. They all work very hard, and are also asked to take the proper time away from work to care for themselves and their families.

Element 112 Toledo Ohio Restaurant Simply Jess Blog Food
Beautiful handcrafted tables by Nate Duricek, local Toledoan.

Everyday, customers have the opportunity to partake in a unique dinner option, the Chef’s Tasting Menu. This generally consists of five courses Monday thru Thursday, and additional offerings on weekend evenings. You may find a L’Apéritif, chilled appetizer (hors d’oeuvre), a hot appetizer (hors d’oeuvre), an entree, intermezzo, cheese and/or dessert, and the optional digetifs. The plates are not large, but with the potential for so many courses, you will leave satisfied. The best measures of a successful offering to their guests: laughter, interactions, and not looking to your phone.

Element 112 Toledo Ohio Restaurant Simply Jess Blog Food

Since we did finally come to the topic of dessert… Elizabeth Gentry, Element 112’s very own pastry chef creates three different dessert options for guests. All made from scratch, in-house, the dessert options are as lovely as they are delicious. I can personally attest to the divine and authentic taste of these French Macarons offered around Valentine’s Day. They are only comparable to the ones we had in Paris.

Element 112 Toledo Ohio Restaurant Simply Jess Blog Food

The resume of Chef Nixon, and many of the other members of the Element 112 body is as impressive as the food they create. Travelling the world, working at world renowned restaurants, such as Noma, Restaurant Magazine’s three time winning “World’s Best Restaurant” in Copenhagen, and Craft owned by Chef Tom Colicchio, Chef Nixon brings something truly exceptional to the Toledo area. Many of them are Toledo and Ohio born and raised, ready to encourage and train up future chefs. Their kindness and their excitement to share their knowledge with the people who enter the restaurant is very awesome, making your time at Element 112 an experience; so much more than just dinner.

Be Local.

Simply,

Jess

A Valentine’s Day Special: Green Bubble Gorgeous Natural Bath and Body

Natural Romance: Small Batch Bath and Body Treats

Valentine’s Day is one week away, but whether you celebrate the highly debated holiday of love or not, you can certainly fall for Green Bubble Gorgeous. (So cheesy, I know, but we are talking about Valentine’s Day. There’s no need to be ostentatious about it.) Need to wind down from a hard week or relax with your Valentine? Green Bubble Gorgeous is a Northwest Ohio based company that makes a variety of sustainable, hand-made, natural bath and body products.

This is a return to Toledo story. Krystal, founder and owner of Green Bubble Gorgeous, returned to the area four years ago with her growing business in tow. The company itself was actually born in Pittsburgh, PA where Krystal was working at Whole Foods. She was a chef who found great joy in creating food by hand, which lead her into making bath homemade bath products, experimenting with essential oils, bath salts, bath bombs and lip balm. Krystal embraces “anything that takes skill, handwork and is inspired by texture, color, scent and mother nature;” her love is creating. Her solution to opening her own restaurant, became a blossoming business. “It’s been 8 years as a hobby…6 as a business, 5 years full time, and I haven’t looked back yet.” She sold her natural bath and body products at farmers markets; quickly drawing attention from Whole Foods itself, where Green Bubble Gorgeous products would hit the shelves in the Mid-Atlantic Region. “And then the list grew, a-list shopping/fine craft/vintage markets, lots of salons and gift shops.”

Lavender Lover's Aromatherapy Bath Bombs
Lavender Lover’s Aromatherapy Bath Bombs

Growing up as the daughter of a farmer, and proud of it, Krystal felt the draw to come back to the area where she could reconnect with the dirt, the plants, and elements of nature she uses in her product line. Last year, she even incorporated growing loofah gourds for the very popular loofah soaps. This personally, is one my favorite items she offers. She aims to educate women on the importance of paying attention to what is being applied to their skin. Our skin is the largest organ of the body and the products we apply (good or bad) impact our internal health as well.

The above mentioned reason is the basis for why Green Bubble Gorgeous only uses sustainable ingredients sourced from companies in the United States and Canada that have similar business and ethical practices. When I asked what type of basics she uses for her soaps, balms, bombs, and oils Krystal openly shared her use of fine mineral salts from all over the world, organic shea and cocoa butters, organic coconut, olive, and sweet almond oils, and local beeswax. “The majority of our packaging is post consumer product and recyclable, and even compostable.” She also describes how her inspiration for her business comes from all elements of life and people she interacts with far and wide.

Peppermint Lip Balm - Better Than Burt's Bees
Peppermint Lip Balm – Better Than Burt’s Bees

As it is Valentine’s Day, it is a great time to check out Green Bubble Gorgeous’ Lavender Lover’s Aromatherapy Bath Bombs or the 50 Shades Olive Oil Soap, to name a couple. The bath bombs are made with pure essential oils and are a great way to relax and de-stress. I love how the fragrance is so relaxing, the perfect amount when mixed with hot bath water. Feeling more adventurous? The soap is properly described as “an enveloping romantic fragrance;” lavender, rose, sandalwood, and petitgrain essential oils with a hint of leather come together to create a very nice not-too-feminine scent. Locally you can find these, and a larger array of products at TK Lane’s in downtown Sylvania on Main St., The Color Gallery in Delta on Main St, and AKA Designs in downtown Wauseon. Or make it even easier and check out the website greenbubbleogorgeous.com for a page with retailers that stock Green Bubble Gorgeous, or to be linked directly to the Etsy shop where you place an order with free shipping.

With the popularity of the last giveaway Krystal and Simply Jess would like to share one of these fine soaps with you! Like the Green Bubble Gorgeous Facebook page, as well as the Simply Jess Blog Facebook page and you will be entered to win the giveaway! You must like both pages by Friday February 12th and winner will be selected by Valentine’s Day. Be sure to keep an eye out for a secret promo code for those following the blog, appearing sometime throughout the week.

**Update (2/18/2016): Use offer code Thanks15 for 15% off a purchase of $35 or more, plus free shipping everyday! Winner of the soap is Alaina Schnapp!

Be Local,

Jess

50 Shades Olive Oil Soap
50 Shades Olive Oil Soap

 

Valentine’s Day Special: Black Bird Candle Co.

Toledo Hand Poured Soy Candles

Not just a candle company. Black Bird Candle Co. is making their way onto the scene as a result of talent and Toledo pride. Tasha Dove, born and raised Toledoian, took her hobby to production in 2014 after some major encouragement from family and friends. Now, Black Bird is entering their third year of sales at craft fairs and through the Etsy shop, with an upcoming website to showcase products and events. From the beginning the focus has been to create a good, quality product that was free from artificial dyes and chemicals.

100% soy wax and fragrance oils are sourced from other small businesses keeping purchase funds focused on the Shop Small coalition. A quality product is a result of quality ingredients generating a long lasting, clean burning, pure scent candle in modern, sleek tin containers, and  melt cubes for flame free warmers.

Black Bird Candle Co. | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

I had the opportunity to enjoy two fragrances perfect for upcoming Valentine’s Day, Rose and Raspberry Vanilla. Whether lit it a large or small room, the aroma filled the space without becoming overpowering. Tasha explained that this is called a hot throw; the fragrance resulting from burning the candle. The cool part was that leaving the candle unlit, but with the tin lid off, the candle still left a nice lighter fragrance in the air. She described this as the cold throw; these were two terms I had never heard before. I was quite impressed at how slow the candle burns, and gives off a good scent.

Black Bird Candle Co. | Simply Jess |Toledo Ohio

Black Bird Candle Co. wasn’t created by a passing whim. Research, practice, and many failed batches of candles was the learning experience needed to produce the candles and warmer melts offered by the company today. I have tried pouring a few candles myself over the past few years, and it is not as easy as it looks to create a functional candle, let alone a superior, sellable creation. Tasha described the process with such confidence and ease, making each step sound so simple, but all too familiar with the troubleshooting and challenges she has faced in the past. Now, she has great pride in the product that has returning customers and custom request orders to be given as favors at baby showers and weddings.

Custom Wedding Favors
Custom Wedding Favors
Baby Shower Favors
Baby Shower Favors

It’s not the candle making alone that keeps Tasha engaged in the business, it’s the person-to-person experience she gets from interacting with customers. Feedback, suggestions, and ideas from those who have tried Black Bird’s candles and melts are important to the growth and sustainability of the company. Bakery house fragrances, such as fudge brownie and seasonal offerings such as sweet potato brown sugar, have brought positive comments from both men and women alike. Fruity and floral scents are staples that customers return for on a consistent basis. Holiday offerings give room for both traditional and trendy creations. The opportunities seem endless giving way to a lot of creative room.

Tasha and her husband Brian are extremely passionate about supporting local businesses and investing in the local economy. Even before their own small business came into production, they felt the need to make a conscious effort to think about where and how they make purchases. Sharing with others all the region has to offer, and disclaiming the common perception that Toledo has little to offer in terms of business and social opportunities, is evident in conversation and in their lifestyle. This is part of the reason they choose to share in the shop small, shop local movement of the Toledo area.

Now, as mentioned earlier: Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I quite enjoyed the romantic fragrances of both Rose and Raspberry Vanilla, but there are so many to choose from! You can see from the list below that no matter what you or your valentine prefer there is a little something for everyone.

Black Bird Candle Co. | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

We would like to share one with one lucky follower! How to enter: just Like us so you can keep up on Black Bird Candle’s upcoming events and posts from Simply Jess. If you like both the Black Bird Candle Co. and Simply Jess Blog on Facebook you will be entered to win a tin for you to try in your own home! Click on the links in previous sentence to be taken to our Facebook pages. Must enter by midnight (EST) on Friday February 5th and be located in the continental United States. 

**Update 2/18/2016: Winner Paula Tasma!!

Be Local.

~Jess