Dishin' with Local D'Lish: SGT chats it up with Ann Yin

Ann Yin at Local D'lishAnn Yin at Local D'lishAnn Yin has been selling local food – everything from gourmet chocolate to everyday groceries – at her North Loop general store, Local D’Lish, for a little longer than a year. We recently caught up with her while she, her daughter CC, and staff member Stefan, prepared for an event later that evening. As they sliced cheese and chocolate, we chatted about Ann’s experiences over the past year, and her plans for the future. And we were even lucky enough to snag some cayenne shortbread, which truly was d’lish!

Simple, Good, and Tasty: What changes have you noticed in the local food culture in Minneapolis over the past year? How have your conversations with people changed?

Ann Yin: When I opened Local D’Lish, I knew there were a lot of restaurants in the area that focused on local foods, but there weren’t as many options for buying locally grown or produced groceries – other than the co-ops and, in the summer, the farmers’ markets. But, Traditional Foods Minnesota and Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls both opened within a month of us. None of us even knew about each other at that time. Now it seems like consumers know about us and have really started to expect and seek out places to buy local groceries. It’s not surprising to people anymore to have local food markets.

SGT: What are your goals for the coming year?

Yin: When we first opened, we were really small – we had only a few shelves of products, and I think some people got the idea that we were better for specialty gifts or gourmet items. I’m really focusing on building the grocery aspect of the store. I know that many people want to buy the bulk of their groceries locally, and I want to make it very easy for people to come to one place and know that everything they buy is from small family farms and local producers. I’m working on continuing to expand my product line to become more of a one-stop shop.

SGT: What’s your new year’s resolution?

Yin: 2009 was a really hard year for local food vendors – so I want to increase the spotlight on them. Also, I hope as a community that we can keep leading the country in the local foods movement, right here in the Twin Cities. We’ve done so much already, but there’s so much more we can do.

SGT: What’s going on at Local D’Lish this winter?

Yin: For the holidays, we’ve got gift baskets; we custom-make the baskets, and help you decide what items to include. We’ve made baskets for people who never cook, people who love to cook, and people who want strictly “traditional Minnesota” items. Some of our most popular basket items have been the brownies and cayenne shortbread from Gourmet Thyme, Lucille’s Kitchen Garden Pepper Jam, Northern Lakes Maple Syrup, and Sweet Goddess Peppermint Bark; these are all local vendors and producers, many of whom also use local ingredients.

We’re also working with the Mill City Farmers Market to host our Winter Market, one Saturday a month [the December market is today, December 19], with more than twenty local vendors. Local food artisans and farmers really need our support through the winter – as much, if not more, as they do in the summer. Even just buying one thing from one or two vendors sure helps a lot!

The Winter Farmers Market is open on December 19 from 10am - 2pm at Local D'lish, located at 208 North 1st. Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401.

Local D'lish is a proud participant of Simple, Good, and Tasty's Local Food Lover program, offering a 10% discount to members year-round.

Georgia Rubenstein is a contributor to SGT in many significant ways. This is her second article for us. Her first article, Vermiculture and our Frends the Worms, was a big hit.