OPEN SE­SAME

IT’S AL­WAYS TAHINI TIME WITH THE PHILLY SIS­TERS BE­HIND SPE­CIALTY FOOD LA­BEL SOOM.

Philadelphia Style - - Contents - BY MARY MAR­GARET EWENS

It’s al­ways tahini time with the Philly sis­ters be­hind spe­cialty food la­bel SOOM.

“Ed­u­ca­tion is prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant as­pect for our prod­uct,” says Shelby Zitel­man, CEO of Soom. “If we ed­u­cate our con­sumers, they will want to buy the prod­uct even more, be­cause they know the health ben­e­fits.”

Shelby and her two sis­ters, Jackie and Amy, saw a void in the mar­ket for healthy cook­ing in­gre­di­ents and got the idea to mar­ket min­eral-rich tahini state­side from Jackie’s hus­band, Omir, who was in the busi­ness in Is­rael.

“We’re orig­i­nally from Mary­land, but chose Philly be­cause there’s a vi­brant food scene, our tar­get cus­tomers are here, and it’s af­ford­able,” says Shelby. “Plus the restaurants here are very ac­ces­si­ble, from High Street on Mar­ket to Tredici Enoteca.” Most of the pro­duc­tion is done in Is­rael and then shipped to Philly, where the sis­ters fo­cus on mar­ket­ing the brand. Now in res­tau­rant kitchens and food mar­kets from New York to Wash­ing­ton, DC, you’ve prob­a­bly en­joyed Soom with­out even know­ing it: The tahini is a main in­gre­di­ent in Michael Solomonov’s fa­mous hum­mus at his Cookn­solo restaurants.

The com­mu­nity-minded fe­male en­trepreneurs—an over­sized “Women Owned” logo is on each jar’s la­bel—are in­volved in or­ga­ni­za­tions across the city, from the lo­cal chap­ter of the Women’s Busi­ness En­ter­prise Na­tional Coun­cil to the Ron­ald Mcdon­ald House in North Philly. Mean­while, the sis­ters con­tinue to grow their busi­ness—this year they’re fo­cused on pro­mot­ing their new cho­co­late tahini. Think of it as the healthy ver­sion of Nutella. Now those are Soom yummy plans. soom­foods.com

Above: Sis­ters Shelby, Amy, and Jackie Zitel­man’s tahini brand Soom is served in top restaurants and stocked on the shelves of spe­cial­ity food mar­kets across Philly. be­low from left: Not sure how to cook with tahini? Soom’s web­site solves the prob­lem with

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