Artisan Profile: Zora Tabin of Wild Zora Foods
We're excited to share an artisan profile today on Zora Tabin, owner and founder of Wild Zora Foods.
Here's a secret: we were skeptical of her flagship product, meat and vegetable bars, for quite awhile until we had the chance to try one. And guess what? We were instantly converted to fans - they are delicious! In fact, they're one of our go-to snacks in the warehouse these days (alongside New Beat Crackers)! We love the BBQ Beef and the Mediterranean Lamb flavors best (it's what we stock in our Build A Box section) but every single flavor is so good. Zora is also busy branching out into paleo meals-to-go as well as a brand new portable tea product. We love that all of Zora's products are so Colorado: ultra healthy and compliant with many diets including paleo and gluten free diets, portable for hiking and camping, etc.
Read on to learn more about Zora - her story is a truly inspirational entrepreneurial story. One of my favorite facts is that when she learned about the difficulty she'd face in finding a facility where she could create a meat-based product (which requires tons of direct USDA oversight) she got herself a list of every meat processing facility in northern Colorado, including slaughterhouses, and starting calling them all, looking for a place where we she could start to create her bars. I also love that she has named her ovens...this one below was "rescued" from an abusive restaurant in Chicago and is named Ivan. :)
Such a fun loving office, complete with plenty of friendly dogs!
How did you get started? What were your first steps and how did it evolve from there?
Our family and professional lives are very busy (I am a mom of 2 teenagers), we needed to fuel our bodies with the right snacks. We had enough of all the sweet bars filled with grain, sugar and nuts.. We needed more protein to sustain us and traditional jerky that is usually too salty and made from conventional meat was not an option.. I was searching for a snack that would be more balanced, more nutritious, made from real food and convenient to take anywhere. That’s how Wild Zora started.
In 2014 I started to create our first bars from 100% grass fed beef, organic veggies and fruits and that year in late summer we were selling them at local farmer’s markets.. Today we make 7 flavors with free-range turkey, natural pork, and lamb.. We do not compromise on quality - all the meat is either grass-feed or free-range sourced mainly from Colorado. In 2017 we also added a line of freeze-dried meals for backpackers and hikers and a line of instant organic teas.. All products can be purchased on our website: www.wildzora.com
or on Amazon Prime and in a selection of stores from Natural Grocers, King Soopers, Safeway, REI and beginning in Jan 2019 in Walmart as well. I believe that balanced life starts with nutritious food. That’s where we help.
Sealing Wild Zora BBQ Beef bars as fast as they come down the line!
Tell us about the space where you make your product.
My original plan was to rent a commissary kitchen, start very small, test the market and see if people would even buy our meat and veggie bars. But I Iearnt that we have to be producing in an USDA inspected facility where the inspector comes every day! So, I got on a phone and for 3 days I was calling to all USDA facilities between Cheyenne and Denver. I ended up finding a burrito business in Loveland and we were promised to rent it for few hours here and there. In the end we ended up buying that burrito business, we kept the USDA inspection bug, we purchased our own machines (most of them were used) and we started to produce. Last year we purchased the entire building, which gave us excess to about 20,000 square feet. We are currently expanding our production facility.
What's your favorite thing that's been said about your product?
Our customers appreciate that we only put food into our food :-) We start with real wholesome food (grass-fed and free-range meats, organic fruits and veggies), we never add any preservatives and chemicals. They also appreciate that our snacks and meals are convenient, they can take them to their office, travel, hiking…etc.
On a more personal note, do you have a favorite local restaurant?
I love to visit and eat at Sunrise Ranch
. It is an intentional living and spiritual community. They have own their land for 50 years, never used pesticides. They grow fantastic veggies and raise their own cows, sheep, pig. It is also a spiritual retreat place. They feed my soul as well as my stomach :-)
You live in Fort Collins and work in Loveland: Do you have any favorite place to enjoy the beauty of your area?
We love to hike around and near Horsetooth Reservoir. I love to just sit and watch the sunsets over the lake.
Last but not least, What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
We prefer savory breakfasts; German rye bread soaked in Greek olive oil, with domestic free-range eggs hard-boiled eggs or Norwegian or Alaskan lox, with organic tomatoes, red onion and capers and of course few slices of avocado :-) And to drink: English breakfast tea :-)
If you enjoyed this Artisan Profile, check out a few other profiles we've done recently!
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