Last night, Shagbark Seed & Mill owners Brandon Jaeger and Michelle Ajamian arrived at Rockmill Tavern for a five‐course dinner featuring their organic beans and grains. What they didn’t know is that the dinner was not simply a celebration of the staple foods they source, mill, and distribute throughout Ohio—but an evening honoring their commitment to good, clean, and fair food.
At the end of the meal, Slow Food Ohio Governor Bear Braumoeller presented Jaeger and Ajamian with the Snailblazer Award, which recognizes pioneering contributions to the sustainable food system. It is designed to draw attention to an individual or organization whose dedication to transforming the food system captures the spirit of Slow Food.
Shagbark’s name shot to the top of the list this year because the Athens-based mill is exemplary of a growing trend toward making Slow Food accessible. They are proof that organic, sustainable food doesn’t have to come from white tablecloth restaurants (or with a white tablecloth price tag).
“As we discussed potential recipients of the award over the past many months, Brandon and Michelle’s names continued to flourish in our discussions,” Slow Food Columbus Chapter Leader Mark Anthony Arceño recounts. “The work they have done as the faces and true embodiment of the Shagbark Seed & Mill name sets a standard that goes far beyond our regional foodscape. They are more than deserving of this award not only for having supported our local chapter for many years and representing Appalachia as 2012 Terra Madre delegates. They have built a brand that brings good, clean, and fair food to all.”
Opened in 2010, Shagbark is an organic grain and seed mill that cares deeply about the products they produce. Shagbark is the reason organic Ohio farmers can sell corn that turns into food, not feed. They are why area chefs and restaurants—including Katalina’s, Rockmill Tavern, and Cosecha, just to name a few—can find locally grown and minimally processed products like black turtle beans, cornmeal, and buckwheat flour. And why diners can stock their home pantries with flavorful, three‐ingredient tortilla chips. Shagbark owners Jaeger and Ajamian are pioneers in our sustainable food system, connecting family farms with chefs and diners throughout the region.
Guests at yesterday evening’s dinner enjoyed a phenomenal meal by all-star chef Andrew Smith of Rockmill Tavern that shows just how delicious and versatile Shagbark’s ingredients truly are. The menu included: crispy polenta with pickled egg yolk and guanciale; lamb neck tamale with buttermilk chimichurri (pictured here); cream of spelt with schmaltz and sweet pickled shallot; a game hen cassoulet with chorizo streusel; and caramel corn with adzuki paste.
Congrats to Shagbark Seed & Mill for the much-deserved recognition!