ivot, realign, innovate, adapt, adhere. These are the buzzwords we’ve been hearing on repeat for the last year as we continue trying to navigate through a new normal. One of the most impacted industries is food and beverage. The types of pivoting, realignment, and innovation we’ve seen from chefs, restaurants, bakers, and more has been nothing short of inspiring.
For some, it was opening for takeout only, mass producing meal kits, or opening pre-orders online with weekly delivery. While restaurateurs struggled, many opened their arms and encouraged collaboration amongst those in the industry. New companies and businesses began popping up all over Canada, like Scout Canning by Chef Charlotte Langley and Future of Cheese by Maître Fromager/Cheese Boutique co-founder Afrim Pristine and Chef Craig Harding. With zippy marketing and some household names under their umbrella, these companies hit the ground running and never looked back.
Zing, another chef-turned-pantry-staple company has been operating throughout the pandemic with similar success. The company was launched by Chef Kiran Singh and marketing veteran Jannine Rane. Their first launch was Chilli Crisp, an intensely flavourful condiment that stems from Sichuan cooking.
It’s easy enough you could make your own at home, but Zing wanted to do the heavy lifting for you so that you could get a meal from fridge to table in as little as 15 minutes. Bringing convenience and big flavour to home cooking, co-founder Jannine Rane explains, “We want to create a world in which people can look forward to preparing a home cooked meal," co-founder Jannine Rane explains." We hope that the concept of pantry shortcuts can not only lower the barriers to trying and enjoying a diversity of flavours, but also help home cooks build confidence and their skills over time, minus the pressure and anxiety.”
“We want to create a world in which people can look forward to preparing a home cooked meal,"
As the country grew tired of takeout and people spent more cooking at home, Zing saw an opportunity to bring the spice of life back to the food industry in Canada. "From our perspective, it was less about the pandemic impacting home cooking, but more so the pandemic bringing to the surface some underlying issues with how we approach home cooking in general,” says Rane.
The brand launched in September 2020 with a selection of high-impact and flavourful spice blends, including their beloved Hakka-ish Chili Crisp. As the brand grew, so did the desire to bring new and exciting faces into the project.
Their first collaboration was with a Toronto food favourite Christine Flynn. Partner and Executive Chef of iQ Food Co, Flynn knows good food and great flavour. “Chef Flynn thinks similarly to us in terms of making home cooking easy, accessible and exciting. When the opportunity to work on something together came about, it all clicked very organically,” Rane recalls.
From the collaboration between Zing and Flynn, Buzz Hot Honey was born. Much like Chili Crisp, Hot Honey was having a moment during the height of the pandemic cooking craze. Drizzled on pizza, finishing salads, glazing chicken—Hot Honey does it all. For her Zing debut, Chef Flynn opted for a hot honey with a bit more depth of flavour. The typical hot honey is a blend of honey, chilis, and vinegar to help control viscosity. Buzz is unique in that it has a few extra flavour helpers.“There's a pop of acidity," Rane describes." There's florality and warmth from the spices, there's heat from the various chili peppers we added in.”
The honey used in Buzz hails from Niagara, much like Chef Flynn herself. Buzz Hot Honey is one of Zing’s best sellers, and is available in many stores in Toronto, as well as on the menu at Flynn’s iQ Food Co. Zing has more chef collaborations on the horizon, and when asked about its future, Rane said, “We have our first holiday collaboration coming up, and a few more exciting things in the pipeline for 2022. We are a small and nimble company so there isn't a cumbersome process to decide who we work with.” A Mala Seasoning Salt is set to debut on their website soon, a collaboration with Toronto’s Food & Liquor chef/co-owner Vincent Ng.
Zing also uses its platform to regularly post recipes on their blog that feature their coveted spice blends and jarred condiments. There is no shortage of material, and the easy to complete recipes are perfect for the average home cook.
With bright, approachable marketing and continuing partnerships with local culinary heroes, Zing succeeds in making big flavour something we can all enjoy, no matter your level of cooking expertise.