Desserts by Alighieri
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.