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, 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 concept he plans to open in Salt Lake. City in early 2023.
Cohen will have a demo booth, explaining the Marcellus Foods concept and sampling some of his food, at the annual Craft Lake City DIY Fest, Friday through Sunday, August 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, headed from Los Angeles to Des Moines, when he was on a United Airlines flight from Salt Lake City to Cheyenne that crashed into 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 crash.
Cohen didn’t know much about Zinsmaster, except that he owned a bakery. As she researched, 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 just as an innovator, but as a community member, forming deep friendships with other bakers and grocers.
“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, he said, he 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 hard.”
And these are not problems that can be solved digitally, he said. So when she and her husband, Dana Berge, moved to Utah from the Bay Area, they were hatching a plan to create a natural grocery store to fill the void.
“When we were thinking about what to name the business, we felt that naming it after him was a great fit,” Cohen said. Zinsmaster Baking Company’s slogan was “bread made with ingredients you use at home,” and he said that’s the vision for Marcellus Foods — “simple ingredients and groundbreaking convenience,” he said. “Literally the best things since sliced bread!”
The idea for Marcellus Foods was hatched when Cohen was working as a meal planning researcher for Walmart. He said he found that many people wanted to cook at home but didn’t have time for the hassle, cutting and grinding. They also needed a lot of flexibility with the ingredients.
“I was in the right place at the right time in a lot of ways,” he said. “I commuted three hours every day, living in the Bay Area” — which meant she didn’t have time to cook.
Berger, a prep cook and caterer, would come home with leftovers — mostly individual ingredients prepped and ready. They found that they could easily put together meals in the evening, 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 kind of. ‘Okay, fully prepared meals and meal kits don’t offer the flexibility that people need to eat the way they want.’
This prompted Cohen and Berge to think about a grocery store that contained prepared ingredients from whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and proteins. That would be complemented by a digital platform, building on Cohen’s decade of business experience with companies like Walmart, Shipt and Good Eggs, that would help people use these staple ingredients — “minimally seasoned and super versatile” — to to create an endless variety of meals, just like they had.
Marcellus Foods, Cohen said, will sell only about 80 prepared ingredients, made in-house, including whole grains, vegetables, meats, vegan proteins, beans, sauces and toppings. (The average person, Cohen said, buys only 290 items at a grocery store in an entire year, even though the average grocer carries about 35,000 different items.) These will come from local farms, orchards and producers.
For people without much cooking experience, Marcellus will have formulas on how to combine different ready-to-cook ingredients in many ways.
“We call it different things at the moment – ‘Make the Marcellus’ or ‘Marcellus approach’ to cooking. We also call it ‘Cooking by Feel,’” he said. “We’re really trying to get that skill set to taste your food, be a little more comfortable putting things together, a little less rigid with recipes and specific dish results, although we’ll have a lot of suggestions to help people walk through something at a specific endpoint’.
Cohen said they even want to get away from the word “recipe” and this prescriptive approach to cooking.
“We try to avoid that context that people associate with the word ‘recipe’, where you have to follow a certain set of instructions and a certain number of ingredients and certain amounts, because people with a lot of experience are not necessarily like that,” he said. . “We found that teaching someone to follow a recipe doesn’t necessarily give them that full skill set of what it means 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 eat at an environmental setting. friendly way.
“Salt Lake City has such an incredible food community, and we feel compelled to support it as much as we can,” Cohen said. “We really value our partnerships with other local food producers and are excited to sell a wide variety of local products once we open.” (Marlee Belmonte, Marcellus’ third co-founder, is still based in the Bay Area, but will contribute her expertise cooking for 300 people at a time, using all local ingredients.)
The plan is to open the first store in early 2023, Cohen said. After that, he added, “the long-term vision is to build a national network of what we call local human-scale food processors. We think that’s a really important component — to build strong, resilient local food systems.”
Craft Lake City, Cohen said, is the company’s first chance to get out and talk to people in Salt Lake City about the store concept — and to let people try the food.
“We’re going to sell a salad plate that’s kind of based on our approach to cooking and flavor and it’s going to have produce ingredients — it’s going to be a few different salads and a pie that we’ve sourced from a local bakery and a delicious dressing,” he said. he said. “We’re going to try to talk to as many people as we can and feed as many people as we can.”
For more information on Marceullus foods, visit their Facebook and Instagram pages or subscribe to their newsletter.
Craft Lake City DIY Fest
The annual do-it-yourself event featuring crafters, food vendors, music, science and technology.
Never • Friday to Sunday, August 12-14.
Where • Utah State Fairpark, 1000 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City.
Hours • Friday, 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, noon to 6 p.m
Tickets • $13 in advance, $15 day of event Friday. $7 in advance, $10 day of event on Saturday and Sunday. free for children 12 and under all three days. VIP advance tickets for Friday are $30. Tickets available at 24Tix.com.
Heading • Folk singer Joshua James is scheduled to perform Friday night. The performance is covered by the entrance fee.
Information • Go to craftlakecity.com.