Do you like Tomatoes? If you answered yes now is the time to head to your nearest grocery store or farmers market to stock up on what is in my opinion the most delicious vegetable (is it a fruit, is it a veggie the debate goes on...) when in season. One of my go to simple recipes for fresh Tomatoes is to mix them with red onions & cucumbers. When ingredients such as fresh tomatoes are in season the best way to cook with them is to keep it simple and let the ingredients speak for themselves. Take a look at this super simple and delicious Garden Fresh Tomato Cumber Medley with Calabrian Pepper Vinaigrette.
- 3 large Tomatoes _ diced
- 1/2 Red Onion _ minced
- 2 Cucumbers _ Peeled and chopped
- 2 Chicken Breasts _ cubed
- Salt _ 1 teaspoon
- Pepper _ 1/2 teaspoon
- Red Wine Vinegar _ 3 Tablespoons
- Olive Oil _ 2 Tablespoons
- Calabrian Pepper Condiment _ 2 Tablespoons
- In a large mixing bowl add cut veggies.
- Add salt and fresh cracked pepper
- Pour in Calabrian Pepper Condiment, Olive Oil, and Vinegar
- Cover and let rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Serve and Enjoy!!!
The Uptown Art Fair's local chef culinary challenge begins tomorrow at 4PM. in Minneapolis. Tonight my wife set a timer and I did a test run of tomorrow's competition.
Swedish Meatballs. With the ingredients given: pork, chocolate, ale beer, and dark chocolate I have decided that I will be making Pork Swedish Meatballs with a dark chocolate ale garlic sauce.
I am competing against some of the very best chefs in Minnesota. My set goal is to advance past the first round! Tomorrow I will blog about the experience and share the recipe that I used to create what is hopefully a winning dish.
Make it an absolute awesome Friday tomorrow. I am grateful that you have read this blog.
“Do the things you don’t wanna do, so that one day you can do the things that you wannado. Pay the price! Sacrifice something!”
- Grant Cardone
Day 2 of my August recipe/ blog challenge. Quick questions... who does not like guacamole!?? When done right guacamole is the perfect chip dip or in fact just wonderful to eat with a spoon.
My wife has a secret obsession with guacamole. She tends to be the maker of this glorious dip in our household. Last summer my wife was craving her favorite dip and realized we were out of some of the essential ingredients for quac.. but we did have two avocadoes, salt, and our Bollito's Calabrian Pepper Condiment (formally Tuscan Red).
My wife mashed the avocadoes, seasoned them with salt, and added about 1/4 of a bottle of Tuscan Red, the result... an immaculate recipe was discovered.!
With the release of our Pepperoncini Condiment I decided to give it a run at guacamole, and the taste was spectacular. The flavor of the brined pepperoncini brought out the true flavors of the avocados. Try this recipe for your next outdoor BBQ with friends.
- 2 avocadoes (mashed)
- 1 plum tomato (diced)
- 2 cloves of garlic (smashed then diced)
- 1/2 juice of fresh lime (squeezed)
- 1 tsp. of salt
1.) Lightly mash avocadoes with a fork, making sure not to over mash
2.) Add the diced tomato and smashed garlic, gently stir in.
3.) finish the guacamole with salt and the lemon juice of 1/2 fresh squeezed lime.
4.) Gently incorporate and enjoy!!!
This summer I have tasked myself at the beginning of each month with a goal. June, I wanted to paddle board on a lake everyday, and in July I challenged myself to swim in a lake each morning. If am being honest with myself I quarter-assed each set-goal.
So August begins. After listening to my daily motivational YouTube video today I came across a video from Gary Vaynerchuk about how August is the perfect month to get ahead on you goals. While everyone in Europe and the US are lounging and vacationing, August can be a platform to get ahead of the game.
This month my 31 day goal is to post a blog on my website daily, ideally a recipe blog.
Today... it is Peach Cobbler.
- 8 peaches (peeled and sliced)
- All Purpose Flour (1 cup)
- Brown Sugar (1/2 cup)
- White Sugar (1/2 cup)
- Butter (1 stick)
- Water (1/4 cup)
- Corn Starch (2 tsp.)
- Lemon Juice (1 tbsp.)
- Baking Powder (1 tsp.)
1.) First things first, preheat your oven to 425 F.
2.) Peel, halve, and thinly slice peaches
3.) In the same bowl as the peaches combine: 1/4 cup of brown & white sugar, lemon juice, Nutmeg, and cornstarch.
4.) Stir mixture of peaches and sugar mixture... add to a ceramic baking dish and add to the 425F oven for 10 minutes.
5.) While the peach mixture is baking... mix: 1 cup of flower, 1/4 cup of both white & brown sugar, and baking powder.
6.) Dice cold stick of butter into small pieces and add cold butter to the flour mixture. With your hands combine butter and flour mixture. Add 1/4 cup of warm water and incorporate until all ingredients incorporated.
7.) Take two spoons and add dollops of batter to the top of now 10 minute cooked peaches.
8.) Put ceramic dish back into the oven and bake for 30 additional minutes. Enjoy!
"Take a chance- it's the best way to test yourself, have fun and push boundaries"
- Richard Branson
A month ago I was browsing on the Internet looking for "cooking competitions in Minnesota," and came upon an application to compete at the Uptown Art Fair’s local chef competition. Without hesitation I quickly filled out my application; two weeks later I received an email confirming my spot in competition.
Stiff competition. As you can imagine there are well trained, experienced chefs who will also be competition in the local chef challenge. At first, I had a sense of intimidation and feeling of not having the credentials to compete... but then I thought to myself, what the hell I can win this!
On Friday August 4th at 4PM I will go head to head in a single elimination challenge. There are three set ingredients which each chef is made aware of prior to the competition, with a fourth ingredient that be introduced at the time of the event.
Tonight I played with the ingredients and tested a few recipe ideas; see the pictures below of my play on Swedish Meatballs with the ingredients that I will need to incorporate.
To my award-winning customers, I love you. Please feel free to share this or leave comments. I cannot thank you enough for reading this. I am going to do everything in my power to add value to your day!
Hello everyone for those who do not know, my name is Zach Cizek! How was your Mother's day weekend?! Mine was pretty good I must say. With a wife who is nearly 30 week's pregnant and my sister recently having a child, there was a bit more meaning for me this past weekend.
I digress. In Minnesota, Mother's Day usually means finally consistent nice weather is here! No more worrying about the random 30 degree April snowfall or morning sleet storm, spring has turned a page and is staring straight into the eyes of summer!
Fire up that grill! My wife surprised me with a grill for our anniversary, and I cannot get enough of it. I love to cook and or bake just about everything, but when it comes to grilling, there is something about it that I absolutely love. With the turn of the spring many Midwesterners like myself experience their built in-instinct, and head to the grill to enjoy some favorites like: beer boiled brats, hot dogs, grilled vegetables, or burgers.
This past weekend my wife and I made both grilled vegetable flank steak tacos as well as beer boiled brats on the grill. Of course we concocted our meals and incorporated our favorite sauce into the recipes, Bollito's calabrian pepper condiment (no bias of course).
My personal favorite was our beer boiled brats finished off with a Bollito's garlic mustard. Seriously good! First we bought brats at our local Von Hanson's meats, picking out Jalapeno Cheddar brats. After a nice boil with Miller Lite, butter, and fresh garlic, we added our brats to the grill. After living in Chicago for 3 years, I did not adopt any of their trendy teams even after witnessing a Stanley Cup and a World Series Title; I stayed strong to my Minnesota roots. However, what I did take back with me from Chicago is the notion that mustard and ONLY mustard belongs on brats and dog, ketchup ... yah not so much.
Here is my recipe for Bollito's Garlic Mustard - Easy to make and un freaking believably delicious.
- 4 tablespoons of mustard
- 2 tablespoons of Bollito's - Calabrian Chili Condiment
- 1 diced whole peeled garlic clove
Simply into a small bowl, mix all three ingredients until fully incorporated. Add to you beer boiled brat, and ENJOY. Thank you for reading. Who is hungry? And, what is your favorite thing to grill, leave a comment I would love to hear.
What the heck am I doing?
This is a question that tends to run into my head when I hit a wall or obstacle during my journey in building my business and brand, Bollito's.
Today happens to be one of those days. For those who follow us on our Instagram story @bollito_s or Snap Chat @ZachCizek you probably have heard me mention that Whole Foods accepted our “Pepperoncini Sauce”; while this is awesome it is also a challenge.
Why a challenge? Our sauce is expected to hit the shelves in early June, meaning we have to deliver product by the end of May.
With the initial order into many retailers like Whole Foods, they require a "free fill" commitment on their first order. So, we are filling their first 50+ case order at no charge.
While 100% boot strapping this business running into free fills can be difficult in terms of available funds. Because of a recent large order with Fuego Box our "free fill" agreement with Whole Foods will not require me to dig into my personal account... alright! Side note, check out Fuego Box and subscribe!
But wait; there is another obstacle..... and at this time it appears to be large.
When I first came up with the idea to make a Pepperoncini Sauce I was able to track down an awesome partner who sourced the pepperoncini peppers and bottled them into food services sizes. The large food service size is HUGE for minimizing our costs and increasing our efficiencies when producing product.
Early this week, I was informed that our pepperoncini producer has now discontinued their food service sizes. It looks like we will be opening PLENTY of 10 oz. jars to insure our May order gets out the door in time for Whole Foods. We will be working with our pepperoncini company with the hopes of being able to buy their food service sized gallons of peppers in the future, fingers double-crossed.
Keeping the eyes on the prize. Challenges such as sourcing peppers come about at least once a month, and while it is frustrating, dwelling on obstacles is a waste of time for me and my goal of growing Bollito's into a national brand. I know that when I keep my head down and work hard on growing Bollito's, anything is possible, and what seems like a roadblock is really an opportunity to learn and grow even faster and more efficiently as a food business.
LOOK FOR US! We are completely rebranding our product, packaging, and Bollito's logo. I am probably the worst with keeping surprises, but this upcoming upgrade to our brand is worth the wait, and the end of May is not that far away!!! Stay tuned!
Gardening and building anything from Lincoln Logs to forts became a passion of his. The process of starting from scratch and putting in work while being patient became an infatuation that Peter looks back on today, and attributes to his current success building RXBAR.
Peter attended Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio where he graduated with a degree in Political Science. Peter has ADHD and growing up was never the best student. However, Wittenberg provided small class sizes and hands on learning. Peter thrived at Wittenberg and benefited greatly from attending the Liberal Arts school.
After graduating from college, Peter worked for a food company in a marketing role. Peter and his close friend from first grade, Jarrod Smith were throwing the football around one day and kicked around the idea of starting a business together. A few weeks later, Peter came across an inc.com article, which titled "start a nutritional bar company for under 10K." Peter sent the inc.com article over to Jarrod. The next weekend the close friends went to Whole Foods, bought ingredients and started cooking in Peter's parents' kitchen.
Peter and Jarrod worked relentlessly sacrificing their weekends for a year while building RXBAR out of Peter's parents' basement. The two would make up to 400 nutritional protein bars a week and go into the city and sell them. The eager entrepreneurs discovered that their RXBARs were selling. They decided to make the plunge and jump in head first to build their business, RXBAR. Jarrod and Peter opened up a commercial space in the West Loop of Chicago with the goal of growing their business nationwide.
RXBAR, the product. RXBAR makes 9 flavors of protein bars. The ingredients used are whole quantifiable and contain no fillers. What you see is what your get. Each bar contains 3 Eggs, Almonds or Peanuts, Cashews, and Dates. After eating an RXBAR protein bar you feel good. Peter and Jarrod when building their company realized that nutritional bars in the marketplace at the time contained unidentifiable ingredients. RXBAR decided to use only the cleanest ingredients when building their business, and refused to cut corners or costs in order to deliver.
Where can you find RXBARS? RXBAR products are available at over 5,000 retail locations around the country including: Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Caribou Coffee, and CrossFit gyms around the country. RXBAR can also be purchased at the company website or on Amazon.com.
Inspiration. Peter draws inspiration from solving problems and helping others. He is inspired every time an employee at RXBAR achieves a set goal, or when a customer is satisfied with the RXBAR product. The satisfaction in seeing others happy motivates Peter.
"Do not cut corners, only add them."
This quote came from a mentor of Peter's. For every decision that Peter makes regarding RXBAR he thinks about this quote. RXBAR refuses to compromise on quality and will always look to solve a problem without cutting corners.
RXBAR's CEO, Peter Rahal's favorite way to use Bollito's Tuscan Red sauce. Peter loves eggs and like many others has discovered the flavor magic Tuscan Red brings when added on top of his morning scramble. The RXBAR offices always have Tuscan Red on hand to add flavor to their employees' meals and snacks.
Peter, your creativity and ability to relentlessly create make you an inspiration for all. Thank you for sharing your story and keep up all of your success. You are truly a boss.
This week’s sauce to the boss feature highlights successful entrepreneur Matt Matros. Matt defines what it means to be an entrepreneur. He has successfully built a concept, brought it to market, and exited; Matt is now onto his second business venture, Limitless Coffee & Tea. Prior to Limitless Coffee & Tea Matt founded Protein Bar.
Protein Bar is a fast casual food business, and their mission is to change the way people eat on the go. Protein Bar has 18 locations throughout Chicago, Washington DC, and Colorado. Matt successfully exited Protein Bar in the fall of 2014 yet still sits on the board. For anyone who is looking for motivation to achieve their largest personal goals and dreams, Matt's story is a must read.
Early life. Matt grew up in a small town outside of Los Angeles. His father, an entrepreneur, ran a dry-cleaning business but unexpectedly passed away when Matt was 11. Matt credits his father for his entrepreneurial spirit. Matt loved sports, which lead him to attend the University of Southern California where he aspired to become a sports agent. After graduating from USC, he landed a job with a baseball agency and worked there for two years. Matt at the time was a self-proclaimed "fat guy," and decided to make a drastic change in his life. In the summer of 2001 he lost nearly 60 lbs. eating a primarily protein diet consisting of protein shakes, chicken, and eggs.
Matt to Michigan. In 2003 Matt attended the University of Michigan to pursue his MBA. After completing his MBA he began working for Kraft Foods as a brand manager. He came to the realization that a corporate life and career was not something he loved. While working the corporate gig Matt realized there was no place serving the food that he wanted to eat; on October 17, 2007 Matt came up with concept for Protein Bar. Protein Bar was the start of Matt becoming a true entrepreneur.
Protein Bar. In May of 2009 Matt took his life savings and got SBA loans to open up the first Protein Bar outside of the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago. Protein Bar struggled mightily right out of the gate, Matt was selling mostly protein shakes competing with the likes of Jamba Juice. Realizing that people left their offices only once a day to get lunch, Matt added food to the menu and business took off.
Growth of Protein Bar. Customers consistently asked if Protein Bar was a franchise, consumers were taking notice and the customer base grew. Matt decided to expand his business and raised 7 million dollars over a few years with the help of loyal customers. With the additional investment, he built Protein Bar to 15 locations throughout Chicago and the Washington D.C. area. Soon after, Matt reached out to private equity firms to help Protein Bar grow even further. In late 2013, Matt sold a large portion of his business to Catterton Partners a large private equity firm. He continued to run the business for nearly a year and then decided to hire a CEO to take his place.
Limitless Coffee & Tea. Matt took time off after hiring a CEO for Protein Bar and traveled the world for 6 months. In mid 2015 he returned to Chicago and decided he wanted to get into the coffee business. Limitless Coffee & Tea was born. Matt's goal is to deliver clean coffee to American consumers. Coffee by nature is a very dirty process. Limitless Coffee & Tea sources their beans directly from farms in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Columbia. They bring the coffee beans to Chicago and air roasts them. The end result is a bean that is almost completely free of toxins. At Limitless Coffee & Tea, Matt and his team are relentlessly perusing the cleanest coffee and tea in the world.
Matt's Calling. Characteristic of an entrepreneur were always present in Matt's life. Entrepreneurship is his calling, he believes his overwhelming strength is visioning and seeing things with the ability to turn those visions into reality.
"The best idea in the world is the one that you are obsessed with." - Matt Matros
Advice for others obsessed with their idea. "Just do it." Matt is a firm believer in the 80/20 rule. He thinks that many entrepreneurs spend to much time over researching their idea. Many are afraid of taking the step to becoming an entrepreneur. What is the worst that could happen? Matt believes that if you are contemplating starting business that must mean you are an individual who has certain level of emotional quotient. If the entrepreneur’s business fails, the individual is usually innovative by nature and will hustle and scrap to become resourceful in finding a job or beginning a new venture.
What inspires Matt? Matt is inspired by anyone who can truly innovate. Matt admires businesses that have been able to stay simple but grow through consistency. Businesses like McDonalds, Chipotle, and Chaboni are companies that he is inspired by the most.
Matt's favorite quote. "If you want something bad enough, the universe will conspire in your favor." Matt really believes that if you wake up everyday thinking and dreaming about something the universe will bring it to you.
"Yours is the earth in all that is in it." - Khalil Gibran
Matt believes that we can accomplish and achieve anything we set our minds to.
Matt's favorite way to use Tuscan Red. Matt is a massive egg consumer and loves to use Tuscan Red with to enhance the flavor of his favorite morning meal. Recently he tried Tuscan Red with a salad and was blown away with flavor it added.
Hey guys! How was your weekend? Mine you ask... it was awesome! Our Tuscan Red sauce has now rolled out to almost all the Midwest Whole Foods locations. There few stores who do not yet have Tuscan Red, but will by this week's end.
Just about every day, you can find me at a Whole Foods store sampling Tuscan Red. The excitement of having a sauce on the shelf is awesome, but in reality the product is not sold until it is off the shelf. If my company is going to succeed, I need to concentrate on sales to consumers. How do I do that? Sampling, marketing, and rebranding.
Sampling. Sampling works extremely well. An overwhelming amount of Whole Foods shoppers who try Tuscan Red seem to love the product, and buy more times than not. With sampling, my goal is to create product awareness and ultimately have consumers buy. Based on our online sales, customers who buy once come back to re-buy 65% of the time. Tuscan Red retention rate is pretty solid. But how do I sell my product without being there to sell it?
How do you win and stand out on a shelf? ... you have to jump out, tell a story, and appeal to the consumer and packaging can help with those objectives. But first, I need to sell sauce in order to afford a packaging upgrade.
Mission. This week's boss feature is on someone I have looked up to for over a year, Matt Matros founder of Protein Bar and Limitless Coffee & Tea. Just wait until you learn about Matt on Tuesday. After interviewing Matt, I realized I needed to have a clear concise mission and goal for my business. Our goal is to become the Italian hot sauce condiment brand, and be the number one selling hot sauce at Whole Foods. Ever heard of an Italian hot sauce? It does not exist, until now. Tuscan Red is the first and only true Italian hot sauce condiment.
Launch Party. CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR TICKET. On August 23 at 6PM at Workshop Chicago, an unbelievable venue overlooking downtown Chicago, we will be hosting a launch party for Tuscan Red. Our goal is to build a Chicago brand ambassador base for our business and product Tuscan Red. I want to share our story and mission with others. We will have pizza, sandwiches, veggie dips, and cocktails all featuring Tuscan Red. We are lucky to have gracious sponsors who will be showcasing their product and helping us out: Limitless Coffee & Tea, RX Bar, Virtue Cider, and J.P. Graziano's. Come hungry and thirsty. We plan to have 100+ attendees, be sure to get your ticket as soon as possible, the venue will only hold 130 guests, and my goal is to fill the space.
Ask. Fellow Chicagoans, I would LOVE to have you attend. Please invite friends, family members, and co-workers. We will be posting exciting announcements this week stay tuned. The launch party will be an opportunity to meet successful professionals like yourself who are doing amazing things. I am doing everything I can to make it an extremely successful night for everyone who attends. Have an absolute awesome week! Lookout for Tuesday's sauce to the boss feature and recorded Podcast!!!