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

Majestic Oak Winery Simply Jess Blog Toledo Ohio Wine Grapes Tour Vineyard Activity Music Bachelorette Brewery Beer Craft Brew Grand Rapids Northwest

Majestic Oak Winery – Good Wine Comes From Ohio

Cozy Winery Amongst the Corn

Whether it is a warm summer evening or a chilly spring/fall day you are guaranteed to find a decent crowd of people visiting Majestic Oak Winery in Grand Rapids Ohio.The rapidly growing winery located six miles north of downtown Grand Rapids, has made incredible changes since the first vines were planted in 2010, now offering nearly 18 different wines on site. Expansion has even allowed for the addition of The Neon Groundhog Brewing Company to provide both beer and wine options to visitors of the vineyard. Although Ohio may not be the first place you think of when you think “wine country”, we have well over 100 wineries in the state and additional ones popping up from year to year, allowing you to find really good wine right here in Ohio. This is partially what prompted Laura and Doug Rufenacht to create this delightful, comfortable space right here in Northwest Ohio.

Majestic Oak Winery Simply Jess Blog Toledo Ohio Wine Grapes Tour Vineyard Activity Music Bachelorette Brewery Beer Craft Brew Grand Rapids Northwest

Back in 2009, Doug and Laura set out on a mission to visit many of the Ohio destinations they just never got around to going to. Those places that make you say “We really need to check that place out,” but never seem to visit. One of their stops was to a winery near the Indiana border where they met the owners, and in the words of Doug and Laura they jokingly “Fell into the wrong crowd.” Soon enough they were back home in Grand Rapids researching how to operate an Ohio Winery. Fluctuating temperatures, late hard frosts, and unpredictable seasons were, and continue to be, the challenges they were up against. They had to move quickly as they need to order grapes in the fall to plant them for the next season. Luckily, Doug is no stranger to farming. So, they planted 500 individual grapevine plants the first year, 1000 the second year to bring Majestic Oak Winery to just over two acres of planted vineyard.

Majestic Oak Winery Simply Jess Blog Toledo Ohio Wine Grapes Tour Vineyard Activity Music Bachelorette Brewery Beer Craft Brew Grand Rapids Northwest

By 2013, Majestic Oak Winery was ready to harvest and produce their wines to offer to the general public. The newly built tasting room was open, and after much trial and error while perfecting their starter wine blends they were proud to be serving their carefully cultivated juice straight away. They grew out of their novice status pretty fast. While continuing to welcome wisdom and advice from other regional wineries, Doug and Laura learned the pruning, weeding, and pest control skills necessary for running a successful winery. From all nighters combatting frost, to the hot summer days spent picking off unwanted bugs, the job was never easy. “As much work as it is, [we] love what [we] do,” says Laura. “I love the people aspect, to see it enjoyed first hand.”

Majestic Oak Winery Simply Jess Blog Toledo Ohio Wine Grapes Tour Vineyard Activity Music Bachelorette Brewery Beer Craft Brew Grand Rapids Northwest

As a small business, Majestic Oak realizes the importance of being local. From exclusively using Toledo made Libbey Glassware, to being very selective on where they sell their wine, Laura and Doug are focused on the business of bringing people together. While you can’t find their wine at the Andersons, you can find it in places that encourage interaction with other local business owners. Thrush’s Bakery (Monclova), Cookies on Demand (Montpelier), The Log Cabin (Liberty Center), Knucklehead’s Kafé (Grand Rapids), Brooks Country Mercantile (Neapolis) and the Whitehouse Party Store were selected to carry Majestic Oak Wines because they believe in “supporting local by eating local, and enjoying local wine in a local restaurant.”

Majestic Oak Winery Simply Jess Blog Toledo Ohio Wine Grapes Tour Vineyard Activity Music Bachelorette Brewery Beer Craft Brew Grand Rapids Northwest

With great public response, and largely word of mouth advertising, it didn’t take long to realize they needed more space. Every year they add an additional place for guest to enjoy, indoors and out. Live music events have also brought patrons out in large numbers. They host large groups on Ohio wine tours and through Harvest Host, a camping club that caters to individuals looking to glamp and stay at wineries across the United States. Friday Night Cookouts give visitors the opportunity to grill fresh, wild caught Alaskan salmon, or a ribeye steak out on the patio though the summer and enjoy a bottle of wine on a nice summer evening. Lent brings fish fry season, and numerous other events that make this winery far more than you average place to taste and buy wine. 

Majestic Oak Winery Simply Jess Blog Toledo Ohio Wine Grapes Tour Vineyard Activity Music Bachelorette Brewery Beer Craft Brew Grand Rapids Northwest

 

2015 brought the addition of the brewery. “We like to do things as a couple,” says Doug when I asked “why add in beer?”. “It gives the opportunity to meet the other side of the couple.” With the growing trend toward craft beer, Majestic Oak began the Neon Groundhog Brewery to meet the needs of more visitors who weren’t particularly keen on wine. The beer is made from grains milled on site, and grain waste is recycled by being offered as a food source to livestock.

Majestic Oak Winery Simply Jess Blog Toledo Ohio Wine Grapes Tour Vineyard Activity Music Bachelorette Brewery Beer Craft Brew Grand Rapids Northwest

 

 

Having enjoyed several bottles of Majestic Oak wine over the past couple years, I can honestly say it’s tried and true in our household. Our first experience with Majestic Oak wine was having a glass while celebrating our anniversary at the Mill House Bed and Breakfast in Grand Rapids, Ohio. Sitting on the lovely patio of the B&B on a late spring evening, listening to the river and drinking a fruity but full bodied glass of wine was delightful. We asked about this winery we had never heard of, and the owners of the B&B (also delightful), told us they were new and how close they were. Soon, I began seeing posts on Facebook from family and friends. They loved how close it was to Toledo, and how much they were truly enjoying the wine Majestic Oak was producing. The following summer we made our way to the winery itself (google map link here). We sat outside in the sunshine, we enjoyed a large tasting and snacks; it was a wonderful afternoon with my husband. We have returned several times since and the only thing better than the wine itself, is seeing all different sorts of visitors having a good time as well.

Majestic Oak Winery Simply Jess Blog Toledo Ohio Wine Grapes Tour Vineyard Activity Music Bachelorette Brewery Beer Craft Brew Grand Rapids Northwest

Comfortable is the term most commonly used to describe the winery. From Bachelorette parties and girl’s night out, to cook-off competitions, and craft beer tasting, this is the kind of place that you can enjoy year-round and come-as you are. You can sit and sip wine under the large majestic oak, or enjoy music and food trucks on the weekends. It’s the experience you want it to be.
Cheers!

Be Local.
Simply Jess

*Words in a different color are outbound links expanding on the topic, definitions, or maps

Excellence in Season – Chef Joseph Jacobsen & Dégagé Jazz Café

Have you ever met someone and thought to yourself “I am in the presence of excellence?” This past week I felt like I got the opportunity to sit down and talk with someone who was perfectly in their element, and truly brings more to the table than just food. I first met Chef Joseph Jacobsen in person while picking up my CSA at the end of the summer, although I have been to the Dégagé Jazz Cafe before I had never inquired about the person behind my dinner order. Chef Joseph is very passionate about the season-based and locally-sourced restaurant he orchestrates.

Chef Joseph Jacobsen putting the finishing touches on his creations
Chef Joseph Jacobsen

Chef Joseph wears many hats at Dégagé, his culinary home in Maumee, Ohio. Since he arrived in 2010, he has taken the heavily french inspired restaurant into the world of social media, put his stamp on the menu with elegant and artistic cuisine, giving the menu an ever-changing theme rich with southern influences. The most important revolution he has brought to Dégagé has been the focus on creating menus that use locally sourced ingredients, only to be served in their proper season. You will not find tomatoes on the current menu. Why? Because they are out of season in northwest Ohio. With that being said, he is also bringing back the art of preservation; ie: canning, pickling, utilizing the crop throughout the year.

Chef Joseph Jacobsen | Dégagé Jazz Cafe | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

Literally from farm-to-table, Chef Joseph likes to see where his food comes from; buchary to sauces, if it comes from his kitchen it comes from scratch. He’s not afraid to clean his own chickens, as messy as it can be. 90 percent of the foods and ingredients used at Dégagé are sourced from a location within a 50 mile radius. Despite the fact that to call something local means that it has to have traveled less than 100 miles, Joseph prefers to gather all he can from the closest farms possible. Riehm farms, Shared Legacy Farms, and Bittersweet farms are a few of the major sources, along with the Great Greens aquaponic indoor farm located in downtown Toledo. Farms like these provide the kitchen with fantastic local produce far superior in taste a quality to bulk suppliers. They can share the story of their product, how and when it was planted, creating a working relationship based on communication and trust. Chef Joseph appreciates the ability to go onto the land where the food comes from, giving him (and the farms) a sense of pride and satisfaction in feeding the people of the greater Toledo area.
Chef Joseph Jacobsen | Dégagé Jazz Cafe | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

Fresh ingredients are the foundation on which the changing menu is built. Chef Joseph keeps in close communication with his suppliers to not only get what he needs for the restaurant, but to find out what is being planted now in order to plan the following season’s offerings. Unless the ingredient is preserved in house, the meat and produce served at Dégagé is truly fresh. Seafood comes directly from a reliable fishery in the southern part of the United States, not imported or frozen after being processed in another country. It is actually possible to call the fishermen to ask about the crop. I can’t imagine many places can give you that amount of detail!

Chef Joseph Jacobsen| Dégagé Jazz Cafe | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

The staff at Dégagé put vast amounts of time and effort into creating menu items for all. They know how to create little waste by utilizing a whole animal, especially at special events like the previously held Snout to Tail, or Suds and Swine dinners. Yet, vegans and vegetarians get just as intricate and quality options as well. The vegan and vegetarian menus is also themed, and cultivated with as much time and creativity as the primary menu. Chef Joseph will pick a keynote vegetable that will be used throughout the night. It’s not about throwing together a salad, there are options. Staff also have the opportunity to come up with their own dishes and through a little competition, the winning creation can become the featured menu or theme item.

 

 

Chef Joseph Jacobsen | Dégagé Jazz Cafe | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

Dishes created at Dégagé come from vegetables that are a little crazy looking, not perfect like you find at the grocery store. They have bruises, dirt, and inventory is low because foods perish as they should. Eggs and produce require time and prep for cleaning. Knowing that most of the farms uses organic practices, there is no fear in using the entirety of the product. Potatoes are washed and scrubbed but not peeled before they are turned into mashed potatoes. Chef Joseph values the nutrients the food provides as much as the presentation. “It took people a long time to eat colored carrots,” he says when I asked if it’s ever a challenge to feed the average customer.  But he doesn’t get offended when people are hesitant, he turns to education and familiarity. Many of the dishes on the menu are classic, comfort foods that most people could see frozen in boxes of freezer food at the grocery, but Chef Joseph takes them back to their original form, made as it should be.

Chef Joseph Jacobsen | Dégagé Jazz Cafe | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

Educating people on basic skills, techniques, and food practices is something Chef Joseph takes very seriously, but has fun doing. He offers many different cooking classes throughout the year, not on just how to prepare a dish, but even on how to shop at a grocery store. From a person who feels completely uneducated or unskilled in food, to the the advanced, anyone can jump right in and participate. He currently offers two classes per month, each with a different theme. Some classes focus on technique, others on education, but all are fun and exciting. Custom courses, and group classes give people the knowledge and confidence to bring whole foods to their own table. He is aware that we are busy people as a whole, so he aims to show how we can eat real food in the midst of our hectic schedules, as well as on a budget.

Chef Joseph Jacobsen | Dégagé Jazz Cafe | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

All of this opportunity in a building older than the city of Maumee itself. When I asked Chef Joseph if he was from the area and how he got started in the business he laughed. He was on summer break during college, packing up to start the fall semester at the University of Michigan Medical School when he decided to take his things, and move to New York City, never having seen the city before. He lived with family and attended the International Culinary Institute. He says that there are many people who are miserable in what they do day in and day out, so he decided to do what he is passionate about. He brought his skills and knowledge back home to the Toledo area to teach us how to go back to how we should be eating. Local, seasonal, real food. At the time he came back to his hometown, there was no restaurant like this in the area. He wanted to bring paletes back to life, and back from mass processed, nutrient deprived, chemically ridden foods.  He desires to teach us how to eat seasonal and sustainable, for our own good, and the good of your community. Would you know how to eat or what to cook with if the grocery store couldn’t import fresh fruits and vegetables anymore? What if the droughts we hear about on the news came to the point that they impacted what you could find at the store, or the price you would have to pay for food? Would you know how to eat? It’s easier than you think and far more valuable to the health of you and your family to shop local.

I hope you take the next opportunity to check out this amazing chef through the restaurant or thought cooking classes.

Eat and Drink Local.

Be Local.

~Jess