A new grocery store is coming to Utah to make cooking at home easier

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 1934 plane crash in Parleys Canyon.

“My middle name is Marcellus, so I’ve always been curious about my great-grandfather, who I was named after,” said Cohen, who is launching Marcellus Foods, a new grocery store concept she plans to open in the Salt Lake City early 2023.

Cohen will have a demo booth explaining the concept of Marcellus Foods and some of his dishes can be tasted. Salt Lake City.

Marcellus “Mike” Zinsmaster, 58, was the head of the Zinsmaster Bread Company in Duluth, Minnesota. He was finishing a business trip 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 — to die in the crash.

Cohen didn’t know much about Zinsmaster other than owning a bakery. As she did her research, 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 also as a community liaison who forged deep friendships with other bakers and grocers closed.

“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. At some point, she said, she realized that “cooking is a mix of a lot 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. When she and her husband, Dana Berge, relocated to Utah from the Bay Area, they hatched a plan to open a physical grocery store that would fill the void.

“When we were thinking about how to name the company, we thought naming it after him felt so fitting,” said Cohen. The Zinsmaster Baking Company’s slogan was “Bread made from materials you use at home,” and she said that’s Marcellus Foods’ vision — “simple ingredients and breakthrough convenience,” she said. “Literally the best thing since sliced ​​bread!”

The concept for Marcellus Foods began to hatch when Cohen was working as a meal planner for Walmart. She said she found that many people wanted to cook at home but didn’t have time for the work of slicing, chopping and grating. 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,” she said. “I commuted back and forth for three hours every day and lived in the Bay Area” — which meant she didn’t have time to cook, either.

Berge, a prep chef and caterer, came home with leftovers — mostly single ingredients that were prepared and ready to go. They found that they could easily prepare meals in the evenings, even when they were both exhausted.

“We kept working from the same building blocks, but our meals were fresh and new and exciting every day,” said Cohen. “And then I was like, ‘Okay, ready-made meals and meal packages don’t offer the flexibility that people need to eat the way they want.'”

This led Cohen and Berge to consider a grocery store that would stock ready-made single ingredients made from whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and proteins. This would be complemented by a digital platform that would build on Cohen’s decades of professional experience at companies like Walmart, Shipt and Good Eggs, helping people use these basic ingredients – “minimum flavoring and maximum flexibility” – to create endless variety Meals as they had them.

Marcellus Foods, Cohen said, will only sell about 80 pre-made ingredients that are made in-house, including whole grains, vegetables, meats, vegan proteins, beans, sauces and toppings. (The average person, Cohen said, purchases just 290 items from a grocery store over the course of an entire year, even though the average grocery store carries about 35,000 different items.) These are sourced from local farms, orchards, and producers.

For people without much cooking experience, Marcellus has formulas on how to combine different ready-to-cook ingredients in a variety of ways.

“We’re calling it a few different things at the moment – ‘make it Marcellus’ or a ‘Marcellus approach’ to cooking. We also call it ‘Cooking by Feel,'” she said. “We’re really trying to get that ability to taste your food, to be a little more comfortable messing around with putting things together, to be a little less rigid about recipes and specific dish outcomes, although we’re going to have tons of suggestions that people can come up with help go through something to a certain endpoint.”

Cohen said they even wanted to somehow get away from the word “recipe” and this prescriptive approach to cooking.

“We’re trying to avoid that framework that people associate with the word ‘recipe,’ where you have to follow specific instructions and a specific number of ingredients and specific amounts, because that’s not necessarily how people relate to a A lot of experienced cooks bypass the recipe,” she said. “We’ve found that teaching someone to follow a recipe doesn’t necessarily give them the full skills of a comfortable and competent cook.”

A preview at Craft Lake City

Salt Lake City, Cohen said, seemed like an ideal place to open the first store because it’s a fast-growing city full of large families and the state’s water problems make it more important than ever to support local farmers and eat green friendly way.

“Salt Lake City has such an incredible food community, and we strive to support it in any way we can,” said Cohen. “We greatly value our partnerships with other local food manufacturers and look forward to selling a wide variety of locally made goods once we open.” (Marlee Belmonte, the third co-founder of Marcellus, is still in the Bay Area, however she will bring 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. Afterwards, she added: “The long-term vision is to build a national network of so-called local human-scale food processors. We believe this is a really important component – ​​to building strong, resilient local food systems.”

Craft Lake City, Cohen said, is the company’s first opportunity to go out and talk to people in Salt Lake City about the store concept — and let people taste the food.

“We’ll be selling a salad plate that’s based on our approach to cooking and flavor and includes product ingredients — it’ll be a few different salads and a pita bread that we sourced from a local bakery, and a delicious sauce,” she said. “We will try to talk to as many people as possible and feed as many people as possible.”

For more information about Marceullus foods, visit their Facebook and Instagram pages or subscribe to their newsletter.

Craft Lake City Home Improvement Festival

The annual do-it-yourself event featuring artisans, food vendors, music, science and technology.

When • Friday to Sunday, 12-14. August.

Where • Utah State Fairpark, 1000 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City.

Hours • Friday, 5pm to 10pm; Saturday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m

tickets • $13 upfront, $15 on Friday event day; $7 upfront, $10 on the day of the event on Saturday and Sunday; free for children under 12 on all three days. Presale VIP tickets for Friday are $30. Tickets are available at 24Tix.com.

headliners • Folk singer Joshua James is scheduled to perform on Friday night. The performance is included in the admission price.

information • Go to craftlakecity.com.

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