The holiday season can be a busy time. In the midst of cleaning up from holiday parties to making new years resolutions, it’s often easy to miss the opportunity to reflect on the year. Yet moving into the year 2020 is a great opportunity to look back on great memories and reminisce on experiences that come to mind in highlighting the year.
Maybe for you the year of 2019 was a year of change. Maybe it included new opportunities or settling into a routine. Maybe it was filled with amazing moments or had numerous rough patches that you navigated through.
As you reflect on your year of 2019, we want to do the same. The year of 2019 was a fun and exciting one in the world of Fustini’s, as is every year. Here, we share just ten of our top highlights of the year.
At the top of our list is an incredible trip to Spain with some of our Fustini’s team members. This international adventure included some truly amazing experiences in learning more about olive oil and the importance of freshness. During the trip, the team witnessed the olive oil pressing process that takes freshly harvested olives and turns them into flavorful and smooth oil. They visited historical sites and museums that are dedicated to sharing the story and value of the olive oil process that is so influential in Spanish culture.
The team also chose Fustini’s new “Select” oil after numerous tastings to ensure the product they share with their community is the freshest and most satisfying flavor.
Check out this blog post for a full recap of the trip.
With a commitment to the community in which we live and work, we were so excited to continue our trend of “going local” with Michigan-made honey products. In 2019, we partnered up with Great Lakes Bee Company to offer four varieties of honey. Started by Larry Hasselman, this honey provider in Fremont, Mich. focuses on wholesome and natural processes that preserve the bees and produce high-quality products. With honey being such a great addition to so many EVOO and balsamic combinations and recipes, offering these Michigan-made honeys is just another way we show our passion for our communities.
At Fustini’s we like to celebrate our store anniversaries by giving back. This year was the 10 year anniversary of our Petoskey store location. As a way to celebrate this decade of serving our Petoskey customers and community, we had the amazing opportunity to host a multi-month long fundraising campaign for an organization that stands for quality food. Manna Food Project is a nonprofit working to provide healthy and nutritious meals for their neighbors in need. From May 8 - September 15, Petoskey stores donated $1 of each bottle of EVOO or vinegar sold to Manna Food Project, That $1 provides 4 meals for those in need.
Over the summer, Fustini’s was able to donate over $8,000 to support Manna Food Project.
Bourbon and balsamic - what could be better? Our commitment to our great state of Michigan also included developing a partnership with Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville, Mich. to offer maple syrup and a white wine honey vinegar. The maple syrup uses a bourbon barrel aging process to infuse the syrup with the great, fresh flavors of bourbon.
The distillery also teamed up with Fustini’s in creating a Honey Vinegar, made with honey from local hives also in Thompsonville. With so much Michigan-focused flavor, these new products are exciting features to our commitment to Michigan.
In addition to our emphasis on Michigan-made pantry items and vinegars, we also added a few new flavors to our Fustini’s line-up. We’re excited to offer these new products to continue to inspire delicious dishes to keep your creativity cooking.
Pesto Olive Oil - embrace the flavors of garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano and basil in this pesto-inspired olive oil great for breads, pastas, veggies and chicken. It’s also completely vegan and allergen free!
Thyme Balsamic Vinegar - this white balsamic provides an earthy and sweet balanced thyme flavor that’s perfect for breads, veggies, chicken, salad and more.
Spicy Korean Balsamic Vinegar - combine the powerful flavors of spicy and sweet with this new vinegar. It goes great with Asian-inspired dishes like stir-frys and sushi.
Riserva Balsamic Vinegar - we’ve deepened the density of this new balsamic to give it a smooth and versatile flavor. With notes of plum, honey and cherry, this balsamic is great as a finishing touch to many dishes like desserts, veggies, meats and more.
In 2019, we added on to our team of amazing and experienced chefs who host our School of Cooking classes at all of our stores.
In Holland, Chef Sofia Occihialini came on board to share the art of Italian cooking with her interactive pasta workshops and Italy-inspired menus.
In Petoskey, we’re excited to welcome Christie Struck on board who has a passion for fun flavors in the kitchen. Also in Petoskey is David Ogren whose cooking style emphasizes fresh, local ingredients.
In Traverse City, we welcomed vegan enthusiasts Lisa Robinson and Ryan Moberly who started “Radish,” vegan street food in Traverse City. Their creative and innovative class themes are perfect for trying out some delicious healthy alternatives.
We’re so thankful to partner with these guest chefs in offering a truly unique and innovative culinary experience. Check out a full list of all our regular and guest chefs here.
We know gathering all the ingredients you need for a particular recipe can take time. This year, we’ve helped you streamline your dinner planning with a whole new selection of meal kits. These kits come with some of the key flavoring ingredients for a delicious dish. All you have to do is pick up a few other items to complete the meal. For example, in the spring, we launched a cedar plank salmon meal kit that already includes the cedar plank, as well as flavoring ingredients of EVOO and balsamic. Fall and winter kits include a Parmesan-crusted fish and a pan-seared pork tenderloin. We’ll have even more options coming out in the Spring. Check out more meal kits we’ve offered here and stay on the lookout for new recipes coming along.
In May, Fustini’s founder and owner Jim Milligan was featured on the podcast “Fathers After 50.” In this inspiring episode, Jim talks about his journey from the tech industry to opening up his first oil and vinegar store in Traverse City. Miss the story? Check it out here.
If you’re vacationing away or don’t live near one of our four Fustini’s locations but love the tasting experience we offer, we launched a fun new opportunity for you in 2019. We’ve partnered with several specialty shops across Michigan to provide you the excitement of trying new flavors and finding the EVOO and vinegar you crave. For more info, check out this blog post all about these specialty tasting bars.
In July 2019, the Traverse City location completed their kitchen project to incorporate a grab-and-go lunch spot called Fresh Take. Here, customers can get a quick bite to eat over their lunch break. They also offer catering for organizations, as well. What’s even better is that Fresh Take emphasizes incorporating fresh, local ingredients into all their menu offerings. Check out this blog article for more on this innovative lunch spot.
As we’ve reflected on the year of 2019, it’s clear we’ve had some really exciting things happen. But we’re not done yet. As we roll into 2020, we are eagerly awaiting even more new flavors, products and ways to improve the Fustini’s experience for our amazing community.
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