When you get to know Kakookies, you get the sense that this “better-for-you” cookie is destined for greatness. In fact, Sue Kakuk started Kakookies just five short years ago, and they’ve been at FEAST! from the beginning. In 2016 they won the “Ready to Grow” award from the MN Dept of Ag and attended the national Fancy Food Show. Last year Kakookies was voted “2018 Best New Healthy School Snacks” by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery following the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago. Since then, the gluten-free line has added a 5thflavor: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. (Yes, please!)
Not just delicious, Kakookies are truly healthy. They’re packed with superfoods—oats are good for gut biome, blood sugar, & cholesterol, while nuts pack in protein, quality fats, and essential micronutrients like calcium and magnesium. Chia is loaded with antioxidants, as are blueberries and cranberries, which they’re able to source from the Midwest along with sunflower seeds.
Sue's attention to detail and style might hint at her former career as a kitchen designer and space planner, but she’s always had a passion for cooking. Besides, being a business owner gives her opportunities to engage as a community volunteer: “Nothing makes me happier than to find opportunities to give back by nourishing the soul with healthy treats.”
Another bonus to running your own business is working with family—like husband Jay and daughter Alynn, who know the history and product and are all equally invested. “Each of us has our own strengths. We recognize them and utilize them!”
Kakookies Krew (Alynn Dukart, Tore Swenson, Sue Kakuk, Jay Kakuk)
To bolster their brand identity as a healthy snack on the go, they share regular installments of pics on social media that show Kakookies in some fantastic scenery being enjoyed by active people, such as this mountain scene below, at right.
Cameo at the Castle
Just five months from opening, Cameo has already established itself as not only a fun place with excellent food, but also as being committed to community involvement. “It’s something we have been focusing on since our inception,” says co-owner and chef Zach Ohly.
Whether it’s providing local music, hosting charity events, or supporting local farms, it’s part of their identity. “We have aligned ourselves with other local businesses (such as Fiddlehead Coffee Co) who share our views. Although we are still in our infancy in terms of the restaurant, we are working to cultivate relationships with local purveyors (farmers).”
The name is partially inspired by their location—the historic armory building—but the “Cameo” part is rooted in their culinary approach. “We draw from many cuisines that make ‘cameos’ on the menu.” Things like Korean Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Coconut Curry are just two of the attractive options you’ll find on their impressive menu.
“Our menu changes every 6-8 weeks, though we already have some favorites on there from the beginning that guests really enjoy. We cater to dietary restrictions and are sensitive to specific health needs. We want our guests to be able to rely on that.”
You can tell Cameo is near and dear to the heart of both owners, Zach and wife Danika, who adds her expertise with the dessert offerings, among other things. And once you’ve visited, it’s sure to claim a piece of your heart as well.
121 N. Broadway Ave, Rochester, MN 55906
Fresh & Tasty
Phil and Meg Rutter run a wholly unique form of “woody agriculture” farm centered on breeding healthy and hardy populations of hybrid hazelnut bushes, and hybrid chestnut and pecan trees. They also manage an antique heirloom apple orchard and care for a flock of Icelandic sheep, two horses and a mule—because they firmly believe in managing the farm as an ecosystem.
Selling “eat nuts” and seed is secondary to their main mission: to provide plant stock to farmers who want to grow this perennial crop that will withstand the temperatures and animal pressures of winter while producing a reliable yield.
That kind of resilience helps during extreme weather, but this past winter was hard. “Farmers ran out of hay,” says Rutter. “It’s a vicious cycle. Four times it got to 40 below.”
Animals burn calories fast in those temps, and need more hay. Or, they founder in deep snow and use extra calories trying to get out. All over, farmers found themselves rationing hay. “The older animals couldn’t handle it.” So livestock losses were steep, whether from extreme cold, roof collapses, deep snow, or starvation.
The Rutters are on a mission to get strong specimens out there because woody agriculture is an important piece of the land stewardship puzzle. They’re open to investment capital if you’d like to help support their mission. They’re in it for the long haul. As Meg says, “Phil knows he’s doing work that he won’t see finished in his lifetime. But he believes in it.”
Did you know?
Cracked nuts lose 90% of their shelf life. Yes, you might be aware that nuts contain oils that can go rancid, but Meg is adamant that most people don’t realize the taste difference of truly fresh nuts. Order in-shell nuts from their website or find them at the People’s Food Co-op in Rochester.
Looking ahead to FEAST! 2019The 6th Annual FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace festival will take place on Dec. 7, 2019—did you add it to your calendar yet?
Plans are officially underway, and our monthly contests will return in May!
If you have a suggestion for a contest, drop us a line...
Who's Fueling FEAST!?
Ag Ventures Alliance
Their vision is a vibrant rural economy driven by value-added agriculture; to realize that vision they work to create successful businesses for investors and locate them where they can be most successful. They like to think of it as a capitalistic approach to rural development.
As an “Alliance,” they believe in cooperation to create synergy. As part of their interest in seeing ag businesses develop, they have been sponsors of the FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace since the beginning, and have even sponsored trade show awards. Executive Director Jude Conway has participated in discussions around financing for small businesses, and is keenly tuned to opportunities in the market:
“Ag Ventures Alliance believes that the Midwest and the nation needs all kinds of farmers, not just grain and livestock farmers. It is one of the only affordable ways for aspiring farmers to get started. Ag Ventures Alliance has financially supported local foods initiatives in North Iowa and Southeast Minnesota for two decades, first through its grant program and more recently through its non-profit foundation.”
The FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace is a production of the FEAST! Local Foods Network, which is always open to new members. Founded by Renewing the Countryside (RTC) and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), both the Network and the Marketplace depend on collaboration with partner organizations and individuals.
The Network supports local food growers and makers by boosting access to financing, peer networking, and sales opportunities. We welcome you to share this newsletter with the buttons below.