Shnoo Yogurt isn't your run-of-the-mill frozen yogurt stand. Instead of serving pre-made treats churned out in a factory, the staff makes non-fat, gluten-free yogurt in small batches, using minimal sugar and milk from a local dairy––a practice that helps preserve all the nutrients and live cultures that make frozen yogurt healthy. But Shnoo Yogurt's Full Tilt brand ice cream is also good for you; made from all-natural, local ingredients, it's available in 28 flavors, including vegan-friendly varieties. And the health-conscious options don't stop there. One you've chosen your favorite frozen yogurt or ice cream, a full bar of at least 30 nutritious toppings awaits to be mixed in, including fresh blueberries, coconut, granola, honey, and even marshmallows, which count as a vegetable if eaten on Thanksgiving.
Like all great stories, Cakes by Crème de la Crème's was written through persistence. Pastry chefs Michael Jones and Bart Utz first met when they were taking baking courses together. They formed a partnership, worked at several establishments, then pooled their resources and struck out on their own, starting Cakes by Crème de la Crème. The duo, who have chalked up experience working at venues such as the Washington Athletic Club and the Sunset Club, combine their expertise to craft delicious and visually intricate cakes for all occasions. This expertise has garnered press attention from The Knot, who recently included them in their "Best of Weddings 2013" feature.
Their tiered wedding cakes roll out a spectacle for the eye and the tongue, with romantically elegant designs finished in buttercream icing and fondant. They customize cakes to each client’s specifications by creating a unique border or design, and by giving customers a choice of unique flavors, such as banana cake with strawberry preserves and cream-cheese filling. Jones and Utz also specialize in affordable dessert cakes, tortes, and tarts and custom party cakes, which they can mold into inspired designs such as stacks of favorite books, a college’s logo, or a turntable with vinyl records on top—an homage to the days when every cake was also a record player.
At ice cream dispensaries across the country, Ben & Jerry's staff members scoop up heavenly bites of Vermont's most famous treats. Whether gracing cups or cones, flavors including the banana-based Chunky Monkey and Phish Food—chocolate ice cream swirled with caramel, marshmallow, and fish-shaped pieces of fudge—bring chilly smiles to customers' faces. The shops have also added mango and lemon sorbets to their menu, as well as frozen greek yogurt.
In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers'-market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,150 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options, such as the pepperoni pretzel and eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs, slicing it into bite-size nuggets, or using it to build historically accurate Austrian villages. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
AJ Ghambari was born and raised in the Seattle coffee and food industry. His father owns the Cherry Street Coffee House and taught him how to make and sell quality food. One of its primary suppliers was Seattle Bagel Bakery, which would deliver kettle-boiled bagels to the coffeehouse every morning. When the bakery's owner told AJ he was not sure if it would survive, AJ knew he had to act. He learned the bagel-making process and slowly began taking over at Seattle Bagel, overseeing the process of kettle-boiling each bagel. He now manages the business as it expands into a dual retail and wholesale operation across the city.
Making each bagel from scratch, bakers mix the dough by hand using flour that was sustainably farmed and distributed by a co-op of local farmers. They then form the bagels, plump them, and leave them to mature overnight as the flavors settle, the bread thickens, and the yeast stops throwing temper tantrums. At 4 a.m. the next morning, they throw the bagels into a kettle of boiling water to crisp the crust and leave a rich, chewy interior. Finally, the bakers top the bagels with sesame seeds, cheese, or onions, bake them in shelf ovens, and deliver them to local retailers by 6:30 a.m. The early delivery comes just in time for the morning rush of customers scrambling for bagels flavored with olive oil and pesto, bacon and cheddar, or sweet orange and cranberry—all of which can be smothered with housemade cream cheese or dry-rubbed lox.