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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Zest! Features All Things Foodie for Professional and Home Cooks

Nov 28, 2016 08:50AM ● By Sheila Julson

Home cooks take great pride in finding that ideal kitchen gadget for a task, or that perfect spice blend for a recipe. Sharon and Jim Landis, owners of Zest! kitchen supply store on historic Main Street, in Lititz, have carefully sought out small-batch, artisan spices, sauces, mixes and kitchen gear to create a food lover’s paradise.

The pair bought Zest!, an existing store on Main Street, in February 2012, and have since installed a kitchen to hold classes. Sharon attended culinary school at York Technical Institute and was a personal chef and food service director for a large banquet hall. She also worked at a well-known national kitchenware retailer, where she gained a vast knowledge of kitchen gadgets and tools.

Sharon and Jim frequently travel and bring home product ideas, having just returned from a Zest! trip to Sicily in September. Sharon enjoys helping small, local food entrepreneurs that have a passion for what they produce. “There are a lot of innovative foodie delicacies being produced in Lancaster County,” she observes, “and Zest! is kind of an incubator for them.”

She cites 8 Myles Barbecue Sauces as one of the success stories featured in her store. She met owner Myles Powell at a launch party for Fine Living magazine, and Zest! was the first to carry his products. “We love his Raspberry BBQ Sauce and Pineapple Buffalo Sauce.” Zest! also carries My Aunt Mary’s pasta sauces and Blind Spot Nut Butters—other small-batch food products by Pennsylvania-based entrepreneurs.

Bar items such as Dirty Martini or Bloody Mary cocktail mixes are popular, Sharon says. Her customers also enjoy Gunther’s Gourmet Crab Salsa, crafted by a small business in Virginia, and Bacon Jam, from West Chester.

Tasty ingredients are important, but the home chef also needs the proper tools to put the meal together. Sharon and Jim have personally tried and gave their stamp of approval to all of the gadgets they offer in the store.

“I like to put into Zest! items that I found have worked the best,” she says. “I want to offer the best spiralizer, or best immersion blender. We don’t carry three or four brands of the same items. Products go through a rigorous process here, and I try everything out so I can send people out the door with a tool I know they’ll love every time they use it.”

Paderno brand spiralizers, a tool designed to artfully shred vegetables into strips to use instead of pasta, are a customer favorite, Sharon says, as more aim to eat healthier and remove gluten and carbohydrates from their diets.

Zest! holds eight to 10 classes monthly in its demonstration kitchen. Upcoming holiday themed classes include a lesson on gluten-free Christmas cakes and cookies, December 14; the Make-Ahead Holiday Breakfast featuring brunch recipes, December 7; and December 6, 8 and 13 will feature Feast of the Seven Fishes—a popular class based on the traditional Italian Christmas Eve meal. Zest! also participates in the annual Taste of Lititz street fair, with their popular Valencia Paella.

Zest! is located at 30 E. Main St., in Lititz. For more information, call 717-626-6002 or visit ZestChef.com.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.

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