When Eve Cohen moved to Utah, she was already thinking of a way to help people connect through food—and her solution also connected her to her great-grandfather, who died in a plane crash in Parleys Canyon in 1934.
“My middle name is Marcellus, and so I’ve always been curious about my great-grandfather who I’m named after,” said Cohen, who is launching Marcellus Foods, a new grocery store concept she plans to open in Salt Lake. . The city in early 2023.
Cohen will have a demo booth, explaining the Marcellus Foods concept and sampling some of his food, at the Craft Lake City DIY Fest, which runs Friday through Sunday, Aug. 12-14, at the Utah State Fairpark. 1000 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City.
Marcellus “Mike” Zinsmaster, 58, was the head of the Zinsmaster Bread Company in Duluth, Minnesota. He was finishing a business trip, en route from Los Angeles to Des Moines, when he was on a United Airlines flight from Salt Lake City to Cheyenne that crashed in Parleys Canyon on February 23, 1934. He was one of eight people—five passengers. two pilots and a flight attendant – who were killed in the accident.
Cohen didn’t know much about Zinsmaster, except that he owned a bakery. While researching, she said she learned that the Zinsmaster Bread Company was the first in Minnesota to sell sliced bread, and that her great-grandfather was known not only as an innovator but a community connector, forming deep friendships with bakers and vendors. other food.
‘Time, energy, equipment and experience’
Like her great-grandfather, Cohen has spent her career in food — working on digital platforms to help people buy and cook food at home. Eventually, she said, she realized that “cooking is this mixture of an abundance of time, energy, equipment and experience, right? If you don’t have all four of those things, it’s really challenging.”
And these are not problems that can be solved digitally, she said. So when she and her husband, Dana Berge, moved to Utah from the Bay Area, they were hatching a plan to create a brick-and-mortar grocery store that would fill the void.
“When we were thinking about what to call the business, we thought naming it after him was very fitting,” Cohen said. Zinsmaster Baking Company’s tagline was “bread made from the ingredients you use at home,” and she said that’s the vision for Marcellus Foods — “simple ingredients and innovative convenience,” she said. “Literally the best things since sliced bread!”
The concept for Marcellus Foods began when Cohen was working as a meal planning researcher for Walmart. She said she found many people wanted to cook at home but didn’t have time for the work of slicing, dicing and chopping. They also needed a lot of flexibility with ingredients.
“I was in the right place at the right time in many ways,” she said. “I was commuting three hours every day, living in the Bay Area” — which meant she didn’t even have time to cook.
Berge, a chef and caterer, would come home with leftovers — mostly single ingredients prepared and ready to go. They found they could easily put together meals at night, even when they were both exhausted.
“We were working with the same building blocks over and over, but our meals were fresh and new and exciting every day,” Cohen said. “And I was like. “Okay, fully prepared meals and meal kits aren’t providing the flexibility people need to eat the way they want.”
This started Cohen and Berge thinking about a grocery store that featured single ingredients made from whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and proteins. That would be complemented by a digital platform, drawing on Cohen’s decade of professional experience with companies such as Walmart, Shipt and Good Eggs, that would help people use those basic ingredients — “minimally seasoned and maximally flexible” – to create an endless variety of meals, just as they had.
Marcellus Foods, Cohen said, will sell only about 80 prepared, house-made ingredients, including grains, vegetables, meats, vegan proteins, beans, sauces and toppings. (The average person, Cohen said, buys only 290 items at a grocery store in a full year, even though the average grocery store carries about 35,000 different items.) They will be sourced from local farms, orchards and producers.
For people without much cooking experience, Marcellus will have formulas on how to combine various ready-to-cook ingredients in numerous ways.
“We’re calling it a few different things now — ‘Make it Marcellus,’ or a ‘Marcellus approach’ to cooking. We also call it ‘Cooking by Sensation,'” she said. “We’re really trying to in that skill set of enjoying your food, being a little more comfortable playing with putting things together, a little less rigid about recipes and specific dish results, although we’ll have a lot of suggestions that help people walk through something until at a specific end point.”
Cohen said they even want to get away from the word “recipe” and that prescriptive approach to cooking.
“We’re trying to avoid that framework that people associate with the word ‘recipe’, where you have to follow a specific set of instructions and a specific number of ingredients and specific quantities, because that’s not necessarily how people with a lot of cooking experience,” said she. “We found that teaching someone to follow a recipe doesn’t necessarily give them the full skill set of what it’s like to be a comfortable and competent cook.”
A preview at Craft Lake City
Salt Lake City, Cohen said, seemed like an ideal place to launch the first store because it’s a fast-growing city full of large families, and the state’s water challenges make it more important than ever to support local farmers and food in an environmental setting. friendly way.
“Salt Lake City has such an incredible food community, and we’re committed to supporting it in any way we can,” Cohen said. “We really value our partnership with other local food producers and are excited to sell a wide variety of locally produced goods once we are open.” (Marlee Belmonte, Marcellus’ third co-founder, is still in the Bay Area, but she’ll contribute her experience cooking for 300 people at a time, using all locally sourced ingredients.)
The plan is to open the first store in early 2023, Cohen said. After that, she added, “the long-term vision is to build a national network of what we’re calling human-scale local food processors. We believe it’s a really important component – to build strong and resilient local food systems.”
Craft Lake City, Cohen said, is the company’s first opportunity to get out and talk to people in Salt Lake City about the store concept — and to let people enjoy the food.
“We’re going to sell a salad plate that’s kind of based on our approach to cooking and flavor and contains the ingredients of the product – it’s going to be a few different salads and a pie that we’ve got from a local bakery and a delicious dressing ,” she. said. “We’re going to try to talk to as many people as we can and feed as many people as we can.”
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Craft Lake City DIY Fest
The annual DIY event features artisans, food vendors, music, science and technology.
When • Friday through Sunday, August 12-14.
Where • Utah State Fairpark, 1000 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City.
the hours • Friday, 17:00 to 22:00; Saturday, noon to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m
Tickets • $13 advance, $15 day of event Friday; $7 in advance, $10 day of event Saturday and Sunday; free for children 12 and under all three days. VIP advance tickets for Friday are $30. Tickets are available at 24Tix.com.
head • Popular singer Joshua James is scheduled to perform Friday night. The performance is covered by the price of admission.
information • Go to craftlakecity.com.