When stepping into Fustini’s on Eighth Street in Holland, be prepared to release the food lover in you. There are tasting samples made from recipes in Fustini cookbooks and paper cups to self-serve from stainless steels casks of EVOO and balsamic vinegars.
It is near impossible to make it to the prepared food section without a conversation with other food lovers about “fustinifying’ a favorite dish.
“It’s a name my kids came up with,” said Denise Walburg, store manager. When she started at the company, she brought products home so she could become more familiar with what was on the shelves. One evening, one of her kids said, “What are you going to ‘fustinify’ tonight?”
Although that seems light-years ago, Walburg is hooked on trying different flavors — not just with her favorites, but with new products, too. At the moment, she is all about adding cinnamon pear vinegar to Greek yogurt. She also is enamored with white apple balsamic vinegar and Persian lime oil — but not together.
Walburg isn’t alone in fustinifying. A blackboard near the store’s kitchen lists the “fustinify favorites” of the staff.
The list includes corporate chef Andy Stewart and the guest chefs that present classes at Fustini’s School of Cooking. The November and December class schedule is on the store’s website.
Chef likes to add blueberry balsamic vinegar to his yogurt. “Sometimes to my oatmeal too,” he said. Stewart said classes run the gamut from basics to advanced skills. All are targeted to an interest in making the most of cooking with oils and vinegars.
“All that’s needed is a love of food,” he said for those interested in signing up for a class. “We have a great time and interact whether it is a demonstration or a hands-on class.”
Classes are filled with food lovers learning a new approach, having a different type of date night, celebrating with friends or enjoying a dinner out. Private classes can be arranged.
“In many ways,” Walburg said, “our cooking classes are a lot like social painting classes. Only we get to eat what we make.” n