Meet The People: Bakery Department
We're excited to bring you the unique flavors of A Gourmet Thyme products, the creation of a couple of local food professionals with 36 years of experience. For 19 years, Donna Cavannaugh has been a local catering expert while Bonnie Alton as spent 17 years building Great Harvest Bread Company in St. Paul. A Gourmet Thyme has become a creative outlet for them to explore unique creations like their Cayenne Shortbread and Spicy Walnuts, both of which you’ll find at your neighborhood Kowalski’s.
A Gourmet Thyme's Shortbreads are a great base for your favorite cheese and a simple way to entertain guests. The small size and unique flavors makes this product perfect to use for appetizers or desserts. The varieties we offer are Pistachio and the savory Cayenne.
Martha Glass is a St. Paul resident who makes thousands of these melt-in-your-mouth treats in a local kitchen. Starting with a recipe that features locally raised, organic eggs, sugar and no additives or preservatives, she carefully pipes each cookie by hand. If you’ve never had a fresh, made from scratch meringue, you owe it to yourself to try one of Martha’s 10 handcrafted flavors.
Brody's 579 gluten-free muffins and mixes are made from simple, clean ingredients that are deliciously good tasting. Kathy Schwartz, a Registered Dietitian and local food entrepreneur, created Brody's 579 to help her nephew Brody, who has celiac, feel included in family meals. With popular flavors like Banana Chip, Blueberry, Chocolate, Apple Cinnamon, Pumpkin and the newest flavor, Orange Blossom Honey, you are sure to find a favorite or two. Share them with your family – they are so good we bet no one will be able to tell they are gluten free!
Brody's 579 has grown steadily over the past five years, reaching more families and bringing people together around the table. "Eating is a social event, and we want everyone to be included," says Kathy. "We are proud that we help people feel a part of the meal and will continue to help families come together."
Find Brody's Muffins in the Bakery Department and Brody's Baking Mixes in the Grocery Department.
An amateur baker her entire life, Mary Pat Ingwell happily married into a Sicilian family with a history of baking and a love of food. (When we caught up with her recently, she had just returned days earlier from a trip to Sicily where she performed what she called "lots of research!") Years of tasty experimentation (including the aforementioned "research") combined with family inspiration resulted in Mary Pat's creation of a recipe for a refined yet classic Italian dessert.
When she approached Kowalski's Markets nearly two years ago with her handmade tiramisu*, Mary Pat Ingwell had a winning recipe and a great business background. Where she was lacking was in her knowledge of the food business, especially the retail grocery business. Her neighbor, an acquaintance of Mary Anne and Jim Kowalski and a friend of Kowalski's VP of Perishable Food Operations Terri Bennis, suggested Kowalski's was just the place – not just for Mary Pat to sell her product, but to get the support and mentoring she needed to get her delicious product on the shelves.
Kowalski's, especially Bennis and Bakery Director Russ Tourville, saw promise in Mary Pat that went beyond what they tasted. Mary had a background in corporate communications and a willingness not just to learn, but to do some seriously hard work. With guidance and advice from Terri and Russ, Mary Pat found a commercial production kitchen in Woodbury, MN and became educated about aspects of manufacture, distribution and merchandising she had no prior experience with. From licensing, packaging and labeling to retail marketing, she immersed herself in the ins and outs of the food business. Desserts by Alighieri (named for Mary Pat's grandmother-in-law) was born, and in 2011 Mary Pat's delectable Italian-inspired dessert was introduced in the Kowalski's Woodbury Market.
"I've had so much fun," Mary Pat says of the experience. But make no mistake, running any small business is hard work. Mary Pat logs an incredible amount of time running Desserts by Alighieri – she currently prepares, packages, labels and delivers every single dessert by hand. She continues to be a great partner; her business style is a good fit for Kowalski's, with its civic approach to business through democratic principles and standards. As subtle tweaking to packaging and labeling are required or adjustments to merchandising and marketing need to be made, Mary Pat and Kowalski's are partners united in a common goal: today Desserts by Alighieri Tiramisu is available in every market but Parkview, with hopes to bring it to that neighborhood in the near future.
*In Italian, tiramisu means "carry me up" or "pick me up." It is a traditional Italian dessert made by layering a light, airy cake and smooth, creamy cheese with coffee, liqueur and chocolate nuances. Find Desserts by Alighieri Tiramisu in both individual and family-sized containers in the Bakery Department in the Cake Case. Selection and availability vary by market.
Kathie Armstrong met Bakery and Private Label Director Russ Tourville in 2015. "That meeting changed my life," says Kathie, who produces home baking mixes under the Kowalski's label from her own recipes and also provides the commercial mixes used to make biscuits, French and cardamom breads, and other fresh baked goods in every store. On any given day, customers may run into her doing an in-store demo or even baking side-by-side with a store bakery team.
"I am truly honored to be part of such a high-integrity organization," Kathie says. "They make me want to do better in everything I do. I have become a part of the team, and it is so very special and a blessing in my life. Kowalski's is much more than a store that I sell to. They are a family that believes in helping others, and I believe that as well."
You'll only find Kathie's Bakery products under the Kowalski's brand name in the Bakery Department.