Walt Churchill's Market, Simply Jess, Toledo Ohio, Food, Market, Fresh, Local , Organic, housemade, Produce, Desserts, Meat, Cheese, Craft Beer, Chef, Farm Fresh

Walt Churchill’s Markets – Local, Fresh, & Community

Be Local is the philosophy of Walt Churchill’s Market. This month in particular Walt Churchill’s is highlighting all of the local produce they carry in addition to unmatched number of local goods they offer throughout the store. Here at Simply Jess we teamed up with Walt Churchill’s to show you all of the awesome local shopping these stores offer.

Walt Churchill's Market, Simply Jess, Toledo Ohio, Food, Market, Fresh, Local , Organic, housemade, Produce, Desserts, Meat, Cheese, Craft Beer, Chef, Farm Fresh

I talk a lot about shopping at the farmer’s markets mostly because: it’s wonderful, you can get the large majority of your shopping done there, and the money you spend in groceries goes directly to the source, the farmer who grew it. For many people though, getting to the farmer’s market between 8a-2p Saturday can be a challenge. It’s not feasible for everyone. This is one reason why I appreciate Walt Churchill’s (WCM). With more flexible hours, and the fact that they are open 7 days a week, WCM offers shoppers a way to buy local produce and goods at a locally owned store. Personally, the Maumee location can be on my way home from work, and with the compact market style store, it makes it easy to pick up things I need on my way home.

Since 1917 the Churchill’s traditions of quality, value, and customer service has never changed. The locations of Churchill stores around town have been very fluid, but the family has never stopped serving its country, its region, or the people who live here. Today, these core values are alive and well in Perrysburg and Maumee, Ohio with the Walt Churchill’s Market stores. I was recently given the opportunity to find out more about WCM, way more than I ever thought. All of the employees are so welcoming and helpful every-time I visit one of their locations as a customer, but this time was above and beyond. I was impressed by the amount of autonomy and growth opportunities employees are given, in turn you can see their investment in the company just by how they serve their customers. From a chef who is a 40+ year veteran of the industry who will assist you in what you are making and walk you around the store to find all you need, to the pastry artists who work in the bakery; a guest can have full trust in what they are buying.

Walt Churchill's Market, Simply Jess, Toledo Ohio, Food, Market, Fresh, Local , Organic, housemade, Produce, Desserts, Meat, Cheese, Craft Beer, Chef, Farm Fresh

Before the chefs, and the cakes, Churchill’s has been focused on selling locally grown produce since the 1930’s. Today, Walt Churchill’s Markets work directly with four trusted, local farms to supply a large portion of the seasonal produce. These farms, while not the only local produce they offer, have shown exceptional quality and reliability giving consumers the chance to buy local, seasonally fresh foods in the convenience of a fully stocked grocery store. Steven’s Gardens, Riehm Farms, Ryans Farm, and MacQueen’s orchard keep the produce department bursting with brightly colored foods picked from their fields as recently as 24 hours ago. The farms share many of the family values and longstanding history that the Churchill’s stores have cultivated over the past 100 years. Established farms are well known and reputable amongst their community, sharing the same customer service practices as the Churchill’s family.

Walt Churchill's Market, Simply Jess, Toledo Ohio, Food, Market, Fresh, Local , Organic, housemade, Produce, Desserts, Meat, Cheese, Craft Beer, Chef, Farm Fresh

This season you can find Steven’s Gardens providing WCM ripe summer zucchini, roma tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and eggplant. Riehm Farms has brought their delightful, colorful cherry and grape tomatoes, kale, and some of the best cantaloupe I’ve had in years. Ryans Farm has some picturesque sweet corn and MacQueens Orchard brings peaches, and (soon) early apples.

Walt Churchill's Market, Simply Jess, Toledo Ohio, Food, Market, Fresh, Local , Organic, housemade, Produce, Desserts, Meat, Cheese, Craft Beer, Chef, Farm Fresh Through the relationships with these farms, Walt Churchill’s Market is able to provide customers with numerous other fresh options. Gourmet in-house made: smoothies, juices, and salads can be found in the produce department as an excellent option for those looking for fresh, easy, healthy options. It gives Chef Bill the ability to cook and prepare natural food meals, fresh each day for customers to pick up without sacrificing taste or nutritional value. Access to these local foods means Mr. Rick Warziniak of Warzy’s Subs and Grinders can make his well know sandwiches right in store utilizing bread baked fresh each day by Churchill’s, and Thumann’s all natural, nitrate free deli meats.

Walt Churchill's Market, Simply Jess, Toledo Ohio, Food, Market, Fresh, Local , Organic, housemade, Produce, Desserts, Meat, Cheese, Craft Beer, Chef, Farm Fresh

Every aisle has a local option; coffee, tortilla chips and salsa, organic grass-fed dairy, Killer Brownies, cheese, and chicken to name a few (the list is very long). WCM also makes many items within the market stores themselves. Fresh baked bread, cakes and pastries, juices, peanut and almond butter, salad dressings, and brats all made in store. Beyond these, WCM prides themselves in top quality meats, cheeses, and conventional shelf products. This list is far from exhaustive, I guess you’ll just have to check out a store and see for yourself. Not sure what is local, housemade, or meets special dietary needs? Just ask.

From how community art decorates the stores, to the small start-up business that is able to get their product on the shelf, and the farm that can now share their family pride with a wider audience, the Churchill’s tradition of living with your community lives strong still today. I get excited walking through the store finding my favorite flowers that I can only find at the farmer’s market right here in a store. Or all of the small-batch businesses who have a place to grow, introducing their work to more customers. It was a tasty, and refreshing experience to see a store in this manner. It really makes me appreciate the local food market here in Toledo.

Be Local
Simply,
Jess

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

Toledo Flavors Cooking Experience with Chef Drew Ruiz

This winter don’t hibernate, cook! January 2016 kicks of the second season for the Toledo Flavors Cooking Experience. This is not your normal dinner out, but you will neither leave disappointed nor hungry. Toledo Flavors is out to give guests of their food tours and cooking experience a completely different way to submerse yourself in the downtown food culture of Toledo. Whether it’s a reason to get together with friends and family, learn something new, or go on a fun, alternative date, these events are for the novice and the well-trained cook. Not a cook? Not a problem, you will have fun and enjoy a great meal; all you really need is to like food.

Toledo Flavors Cooking Experience | Simply Jess Blog | Toledo, Ohio

Chef Drew Ruiz, formerly head chef at the Toledo Art Museum and now launching Chef Ruiz On-The-Go, has created three completely new menus for this winter including:
Eggs. Not Just for Breakfast (Jan 15),
Low and Slow Winter Cooking (Jan 29), and
Make Your Own Pasta (Feb 13).
There you go, want to impress your Valentine? Four words: Make. Your. Own. Pasta.

Toledo Flavors Cooking Experience | Simply Jess Blog | Toledo, Ohio

Many years of experience in various forms of cooking brought Chef Drew Ruiz to the exemplary role of Head Chef at the Toledo Museum of Art. His finely crafted foods are amazing for elegant dining, as well as adaptable for everyday meals. Chef Drew excellently describes how and why he prepares dishes a certain way, including the selecting and handling of the ingredients. Patiently and with kind instruction, he welcomes those in each cooking experience to participate and get their hands a little dirty. He may not think he is a comedian, but Chef Drew Ruiz will keep you and your fellow cooks laughing and entertained.  

Toledo Flavors Cooking Experience | Simply Jess Blog | Toledo, Ohio

From the most basic ingredients, Chef Drew teaches us how to cook with predominantly local produce, hand selected from the Farmer’s Market. In November, I was lucky enough to participate in a Saturday afternoon cooking experience that used the foods you would typically have leftover from Thanksgiving dinner, and used them to create a vibrant new meal that would impress almost any guest. While some of us participants wielded some pretty large knives, others scrubbed, scooped, poured and stirred, but we all had fun. Nothing scary, too difficult, or intimidating, just working together to create excellent cuisine with a very impressive look. I was amazed how he turned such common foods: turkey, carrots, potatoes, etc; into dynamic, flavorful, gourmet dishes that even my picky husband devoured.

Toledo Flavors Cooking Experience | Simply Jess Blog |Toledo, Ohio

Each cooking experience is setup to be just that, an experience. The atmosphere is lovely. WS Kitchen Design provides a top notch workplace, with the perfect amount of space for the intimate 10 person groups. Not only will you be inspired by the food and entertainment, but you will leave with a mind full of ideas for your own kitchen space. Contemporary and traditional, the design floor is beautifully laid out for functionality and style.

Toledo Flavors Cooking Experience | Simply Jess Blog | Toledo, Ohio

The mother and daughter team behind Toledo Flavors have been hard at work the past few years developing a way for locals and visitors to experience Toledo in a way that no one else offers. Starting with the summer long Toledo Food Tours that take you and your tastebuds through the Warehouse District of downtown Toledo. DiAnn and Mallory created an afternoon tour that walks a small group of pre-enrolled guests through some very familiar and some not-so-familiar sites in the downtown area. The best part is even a person who considers themselves very well-versed in the food and attractions of the area (like myself) can learn so many new facts and try new foods. Not only that, it is a chance to truly see the city in a new way just by walking around a few blocks. The tour became popular enough that 2015 spun the launch of the holiday inspired Downtown Delights Dessert Tour; same general idea, but with the infusion of art, and seasonally inspired fall/winter treats, participants are in for a sweet few hours. Again, whether date or girls night, the dessert tour is a way to go-out and have a fun few hours while eating and laughing, supporting small local businesses, hopefully learning something new, and maybe discovering a talent you never knew you had.

Toledo Flavors Cooking Experience | Simply Jess Blog | Toledo, Ohio

Toledo Flavors is cooking up something new every month. Check their website (ToledoFlavors.com), Facebook, or one of their other social media platforms for events. They love Toledo and want to bring you the opportunity to have fun, and do something a little different. They want to be sure that we know there is always something to do and something new to discover in Toledo.

 

Let me know when you have an opportunity to participate in a Toledo Flavors Cooking Experience for yourself! Please leave a comment below.

Be Local.

Simply,

Jess