TRAVERSE CITY — Sample seekers delight at the indoor market in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, where they gobble goodies like pita-wrapped hummus, cheese on toothpicks and slivers of gluten-free brownies.
A spoonful of oil? Why not? Christoph Milz invites shoppers to tip one back. And they do.
"People are curious, and they want to try," Milz said of his Saturday morning display of Pressmeister Oils.
Try, mind you, not fry.
“One of the first questions I always get is “What do I cook in it?” said Milz, Pressmeister Oils' owner/operator. The short answer is that you don’t. Or rather, you can, but it's not that kind of oil.
"The more heat you apply to the oil, the less health benefit, and the oils lose their fatty acid structure and flavor,” Milz said.
His oils instead layer and "finish" food like adding a pat of butter, or dash of hot sauce, Milz said. He offers suggested pairings — popcorn with a touch of sesame and dill oil, for example — and flights: four, two ounces bottles of DuChilly hazelnut, roasted pecan, black walnut and smoked peanut oil.
It's a niche business, said Milz, but one that fits well in food-centric Traverse City.
“It’s one of the most exciting places to be a foodie,” Milz said. "You'd never hear, 'Oh no, you can’t possibly mill that,' like you'd hear in Europe."
The German-born Milz went to culinary school in Germany, and worked as a chef in his home country, Spain, Finland and Japan. Then he turned his eye toward business and earned his MBA. He loves technology and worked in nuclear medicine imaging sales for a time “but I missed food,” he said. Now, he splits time between his “day job” in advanced food technology equipment sales, and milling seeds and nuts in a commercial kitchen in Traverse City.