Lynn Rosetto Kasper, host of NPR’s The Splendid Table, once asked a British guest on the show why the Brits serve toast at room temperature. After all, there’s nothing better than melting butter on warm bread, right? His response was that was the best way to truly enjoy the taste of butter. The experience was about the butter, and the bread was simply a way to get it into your mouth.

The more we think about it, this is a great analogy for the way we do business. Everything at Cooks is focused on learning, planning and preparation. We sell goods and experiences to inspire the appetite, but we’re never around for the ultimate payoff–when the butter hits the tongue, so to speak.

So, to bring the Cooks experience as close as possible to our customers’ experience, we have a select offering of packaged food items designed to entice and inspire further culinary exploration.

golden figGolden Fig

Laurie Crowell always wanted to own a gourmet food shop that would be a place to pick up quality food for dinner on the way home from work. After years of selling her bottled vinegars and spice blends at the local farmers market, Laurie’s dream finally came true when Golden Fig opened up three years ago on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul.  As her business continues to grow, she still maintains her high quality standards by producing unique spice and sugar blends without preservatives.

Features and Benefits:

  • Local founder, locally produced
  • Bulk spice blends available for tastings
  • Long shelf life

citykid javaCityKid Java

We all need a boost from time to time. At CityKid Java, not only does the coffee give you a boost, but 100 percent of the profits support Urban Ventures programs that help at-risk kids in the Twin Cities. In Minneapolis alone, City Kid Java fuels mentoring and educational programs, athletic teams, camps and youth leadership experiences.

The fair-trade beans from Nicaragua are 100 percent Arabica, slow-roasted locally to order so the freshness and flavor remains robust. All CityKid coffees are certified Kosher and have gone six-for-six in taste tests against the big-name coffee-chain competitors. Give a boost, get a boost!

Features and Benefits:

  • Globally resourced, locally roasted
  • Profits benefit Minneapolis youth programs for sports, music, nutrition and scholastics
  • Our own Cooks blend enhances our brand

tea sourceTea Source

Minnesota native Bill Waddington, aka “the Tea Guy,” is a widely recognized authority on specialty tea. The founder and owner of Tea Source imports, he blends and wholesales some of the finest teas from around the world. Bill and his team work with Cooks to provide you the best blends available. Even better, he lets us place our own name on it—what a guy!

Features and Benefits:

  • Freshly packaged for Cooks as we order
  • Resident local expert available for training
  • Cooks private label enhances our brand
  • Many flavors (all delicious!(
  • Offers caffeine-free options

the republic of teaThe Republic of Tea

The Republic of Tea’s purpose is to open the road to the rich full-leaf tea experience. Why? Because it’s simply better tasting and much more diverse in its subtle range of flavors than cut leaves or tea dust.  Most of their products are fresh hand-harvested teas, herbs, flowers and spices, grown without the use of synthetic chemicals or pesticides, using only sustainable interdependent farming methods. Heat, steep, sip and relax!

Features and Benefits:

  • Rich full flavor
  • Emphasis on superfruit and green teas with health benefits
  • Sustainable farming practices
  • Local sales rep available for demos and tastings

johnston honeyJohnston Honey

Don and Sharon Johnston gave each of their children—James, Jessica and Julianna—a garden to nurture near their Rochester home. One is shady, one sunny, and one a little bit of both. Each year, they watch as the birds and bees flitter from flower to flower, pollinating as they go. The honey they retrieve from the hives is thick and creamy—a real  Minnesota treasure!

Features and Benefits:

  • Local company
  • Fresh flavor differs from year to year
  • Support for tastings from Don Johnston


Maribel Lieberman’s namesake chocolates are hand made using only the finest single-origin cacao, eclectic ingredients and artisan techniques. Enthusiasts can choose from 27 decadent, exotic flavors. To tempt you even more, these luscious confections are packaged in beautiful boxes tied with a bow. Indulge in MarieBelle!

Features and Benefits:

  • Unique and unusual flavor combinations
  • Made in the USA
  • Designer packaging


Katrina Markoff’s mission is to bring peace to the world—one bon bon at a time. She started Vosges 10 years ago after training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and under Ferran and Alberto Adria in Spain. Katrina encourages all who taste her chocolates to open their minds and experience exotic combinations like star anise with macadamia nuts or bacon and chocolate. Vosges proudly operates with 100 percent renewable energy.

Features and Benefits:

  • Exotic flavor combinations
  • Highest quality chocolate
  • Organic ingredients
  • Globally minded company gives percentage of profits on select products to charity

BT McElrathB.T. McElrath

When the gourmet chocolate market began to emerge in the mid-90s, Brian T. McElrath and his wife, Christine, were at the forefront. Airbrushing with colored cocoa butter, layering innovative flavors and creating new twists on old classics, McElrath began to win awards for his breakthrough chocolates. But the awards have not all gone to his head. McElrath still uses all-natural ingredients, no hydrogenated fats or oils, fresh dairy products from local creameries, pure cane sugar and sources all of his ingredients with socially responsible policies.

Features and Benefits:

  • Local company, hometown talent
  • Artisan chocolates make great gifts

CDCCommunity Design Center

The St. Paul-based CDC has found a place in our hearts! During the growing season, the CDC manages various Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) gardens, operates two farmers markets and sells produce to local restaurants. Throughout the fall and winter, youth further develop entrepreneurial skills by creating and selling garden-related products such as herbal vinegars (using herbs from their summer gardens), wreaths, ornaments, note cards and cookbooks.

Cooks is proud to support the CDC’s efforts. We donate our school space to make their herbal vinegars, sell the vinegars in our stores, host youth interns, and have a seat on their Board of Directors, which is occupied by our fearless leader, Karl Benson. All proceeds from the vinegars go directly to the CDC to support youth programs. Cooks shares their belief that building and renewing a community requires a holistic approach to create long-term, sustainable change.

Features and Benefits:

  • Locally grown and bottled
  • Profits benefit youth in our community

Katz and CoKatz and Company

In the late 70s, when the trend of cooking local, farm-fresh foods was just beginning to catch on, Kim and Albert Katz started their now-successful company. Albert became part of a small group of enthusiastic pioneers who formed the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), and later joined a grape-growing friend to make traditional Orleans Method vinegars. Kim, too, followed her passion for graphic design and created the Katz Branches honey and preserves packaging.  Today, they continue to strive to make foods that have integrity and are excellent for good health.

Features and Benefits:

  • Organic and sustainable farming practices
  • Vinegars fermented in oak barrels
  • Hand harvested, award winning oils

O Olive OilO Olive Oil

In the misted foothills of the Sierras of northern California, O hand-harvests ripe Mission olives from late December to February, then combines the harvest with organic citrus to make their signature citrus-crushed olive oils. They continue to use the original route where Mission olives were first cultivated in the late 1700s. In 1997, the company began producing premium barrel-aged wine using the distinctive Orleans Method of natural aging in wood barrels, rather than mechanically forced aged vinegars.

Features and Benefits:

  • Aged in wood barrels
  • Crushing fruit with the olives offers dense flavors
  • Great packaging for gifts

Bramblewood CottageBramblewood Cottage

Four generations ago, near the coast of Nova Scotia in a house called Briar Dean, there lived a young girl with the strong eyes and beauty of her fierce Scots ancestors. The girl lived a privileged life, but dreamed of going to America and becoming a nurse. She later fell in love, married and moved to the states. On the weekends, Nana Kirk, as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren would come to call her, made the rich Scottish Shortbreads and buttery scones of her childhood. Amy Goetz, Nana Kirk’s great-granddaughter, carries on the legacy today. These lovely little buttery shortbreads are made and sold locally.

Features and Benefits:

  • Locally owned company
  • Rich, traditional family recipe
  • Made with real butter

She CooksShe Cooks

After 19 years as a graphic designer, Shelagh Mullen traded in her pencils for spatulas and began a new career as a caterer and cooking instructor. Shelagh started selling her dry bread mixes after a family member commented on how great they were and suggested she market them. All of her mixes are natural, organic and made right here in Minnesota.

Features and Benefits:

  • Natural ingredients
  • Stone ground flour from local mills
  • Local owner
  • A cinch to make in just one bowl
  • Attractive packaging

Nielsen MasseyNielsen-Massey

How does Nielsen-Massey maintain its flawless reputation? It starts with a family dedicated to pure vanilla products since 1907. From its ever-popular Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla to custom blends and flavors created for specific customer needs, Nielsen-Massey produces fine vanillas that are used in premium ice creams, fine restaurants and bakeries worldwide. All Nielsen-Massey vanilla products are certified Kosher, organic and gluten-free.

Features and Benefits:

  • Family owned business pays attention to details and insists on excellent flavor
  • Imported vanilla beans from the best growers in Madagascar

splendid spreadsSplendid Spreads

As the summer of 2006 cooled down, Judy Tucker was heating things up in her Eagan kitchen. Combining her love of travel, Mediterranean food and her accounting background, she started Splendid Spreads gourmet foods. Her first product was Salmon Antipasto—a rich, tangy, tomato-based sauce flavored with Italian herbs, artichoke hearts, olives and cocktail onions, all complementing the delicate, flaky texture of premium quality Atlantic salmon. It is shelf stable and can be stored in the refrigerator after opening—provided it’s not eaten in one sitting!

Features and Benefits:

  • Local Minnesota founder
  • Manufactured locally

salt worksSalt Works

Bringing together his appreciation of gourmet food, discriminating palate for seasonings and an idea with a kick, Mark Zoske wrote a recipe for a successful business in his kitchen.  In 2002, the recipe was rolled out near Seattle, Wash., and SaltWorks began. Today, SaltWorks partners with various salt farms from Hawaii to the Himalayas to provide versatile premium salts for home and professional use worldwide.

Features and Benefits:

  • Excellent flavors
  • Great variety