DBusiness Daily Update: Baobab Fare Chef Competes and Wins Food Network’s ‘Chopped,’ and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
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Hamissi Mamba of Baobab Fare competed on Food Network’s “Chopped,” won and donated $10,000 to Freedom House Detroit and Burundi Kids. // Courtesy of Baobab Fare
Hamissi Mamba of Baobab Fare competed on Food Network’s “Chopped,” won and donated $10,000 to Freedom House Detroit and Burundi Kids. // Courtesy of Baobab Fare

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Baobab Fare Chef Competes and Wins Food Network’s ‘Chopped’

Hamissi Mamba of Baobab Fare competed on Food Network’s Chopped in January 2022 and viewers were able to tune-in on Feb. 28 to see him compete against three other chefs — Chef Kevin Culinary, Chef Chantiel, and Chef Dan Kardos.

The episode concluded with the announcement of Mamba’s win over the other three and he took the proceeds of the $10,000 winning funds and split them between two organizations, Freedom House Detroit and Burundi Kids.

Baobab Fare is owned and operated by Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere, a husband-and-wife team that sought asylum in the United States. Nijimbere arrived in the U.S. in 2013, before Mamba. She lived in Detroit’s Freedom House, which supports asylum seekers in Michigan. There, she found she was pregnant with twins, and it wasn’t until two years later that Mamba was able to meet his daughters.

“This was not a choice for us to come to the United States,” Mamba says. “It was about survival. And after years of being here, of building a community space through Baobab Fare, Detroit ni nyumbani. That translates to Detroit is home, and it is so important to us that we give back to the people, and the community that has given us so much love and support over the years.”

After the duo immigrated to Detroit, they launched a series of pop-ups, serving dishes from Burundi and introducing East African culture and cuisine to Detroit. Their business quickly developed a strong local following, and in 2021 the couple opened their brick-and-mortar in New Center. Since its inception, Baobab Fare has become a gathering place where all are welcomed and embraced.

The couple is dedicated to raising awareness and funds to support the work that Freedom House does. Freedom House’s kitchen that is in need of repair. It serves more than 50 people daily and in order to continue doing so needs many renovations — including ventilation, commercial-grade appliances, new flooring, cupboards, counters, sinks, and more.

To support the fundraising efforts of Baobab Fare and aid Freedom House in completing the required renovations, visit here.

Avalon on Canfield Opens at Jolly Pumpkin

Avalon International Breads has opened Avalon on Canfield, a new collaborative concept featuring Avalon’s baked goods in a relaxed, inviting atmosphere. Community leaders and collaboration partners joined Avalon for a giant cookie cutting to mark this chapter at their new location (441 W. Canfield) inside Jolly Pumpkin.

Avalon on Canfield showcases Avalon’s collaboration with Jolly Pumpkin, offering Avalon’s fresh baked goods, coffee bar, and breakfast sandwiches, and Jolly Pumpkin’s craft beers, cocktails, pizza, salads, and more.

In the spirit of collaboration, Avalon also is introducing a new artisan bakers market concept, featuring a carefully curated selection of baked goods from other local bakeries, such as Good Cakes and Bakes and Walter Pat’s Bakery Cafe, which are both women-owned businesses.

“As the post-COVID economy continues to transform, collaboration is the new bottom line,” says Jackie Victor, co-founder of Avalon International Breads. “Our new model builds on the strengths of local, like-minded businesses and supports emerging food entrepreneurs. We are thrilled to partner with Jolly Pumpkin and create a bakery cafe that offers a taste of Detroit.”

The new Canfield location will be open from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sundays. Offerings will include a full coffee bar with the same cappuccino machine from Avalon’s original flagship Willis Street location, and signature coffees such as the Willis Street Blend and Hearth and Soul, along with house-made syrups.

In addition to new bakery offerings, Avalon customers still will find fan favorites like Avalon’s vegan muffins, scones, biscuits, cookies, and a new vegan double chocolate sea salt cookie.

The new location also will serve breakfast items such as quiche, breakfast sandwiches, and biscuit sandwiches until noon. Breads will include the Farnsworth Family Farm Bread, Motown Multigrain, and Marbled Rye, featuring different shapes and packaging that are ideal for sandwiches and toast.

“We are so excited to welcome Avalon on Canfield to Jolly Pumpkin,” says Tony Grant, CEO Jolly Pumpkin. “Adding this new cafe to our space provides the perfect complement to our traditional American craft and wild ales, creative pizzas, and great community vibe.

“Collaboration in the craft beer industry is something we have embraced for years, and this was a wonderful opportunity to bring that mantra home in our partnership with Avalon. It is also becoming the future of the food industry and we couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

For more information on the new Avalon on Canfield location, visit avalonbreads.net.

Puff Cannabis Co. to Open Dispensary in River Rouge on Friday

Puff Cannabis Co. is opening a dispensary in River Rouge on Friday.

The facility is a 5,000-square-foot, state- of- the- art provisioning center bringing what the company calls “some of the most unique and one-of-a-kind edibles, flower, and oils to the area.”

“At Puff Cannabis Co., our customers and staff are treated like family as our goal is to always promote a healthy shopping and work environment, creating an excellent customer service experience,” says Justin Elias, president of Puff Cannabis. “When men and women 21 years and older shop or work at Puff Cannabis Co., they become part of an outstanding lifestyle and atmosphere.”

Opening day promotions include:

  • Enter to win Grand Prize of $3,000 cash (need not be present to win).
  • First 100 customers to receive a Puff Goodie Bag, valued at $250.
  • Free pre-roll to all new customers.
  • Vendors on hand with special offers, while supplies last Food truck on hand to supply free food and drinks from noon-4 p.m. (while supplies last).
  • DJ from noon-4 p.m.

Detroit Pistons Partner with Progyny to Provide Comprehensive Family Building Care

New York-based Progyny Inc., a benefits management company specializing in fertility and family building benefits solutions, is partnering with the Detroit Pistons to make that kind of care available to its diverse workforce requires.

“The Detroit Pistons are leading the charge by being the first NBA team to recognize the importance of providing comprehensive, value-based care for infertility and family building, an essential area of health care that is often overlooked,” says Pete Anevski, CEO of Progyny. “Family building benefits are a critical health care need for employees and their families, and we applaud them for doing what’s right for their team.”

All eligible team employees and covered spouses now have access to comprehensive coverage for fertility services. This includes diagnostic testing, genetic counseling, IUI, IVF, fertility preservation, and donor tissue coverage. These services work cohesively with Progyny’s integrated pharmacy program, which ensures patients have the support they need while navigating complex treatment cycles.

In addition to these services, the Detroit Pistons sponsor an adoption and surrogacy program to ensure that regardless of their path to parenthood, their team is supported. Each patient has convenient access to more than 950 of the nation’s most sought-after fertility specialists so they can choose a physician that aligns with their needs and family building goals.

At the foundation of the patient’s experience is concierge support from a dedicated fertility coach who is available to ease the stress and anxiety commonly faced within fertility treatment and a family building journey.

“When considering options for a family building benefits solution, we prioritized one that would meet the varied needs of our employees,” says Justen Johnson, human resources business partner for the NBA team. “We pride ourselves on using the power of basketball to unite, entertain, and create positive change, and we are beyond excited to partner with Progyny because we know they will provide only the best for all of our employees and their families.”

In Related News: As a part of the annual Pistons 313 Day Celebration presented by Ally, the team is asking fans to show off their Detroit swag for a chance to win a $25,000 one-of-a-kind custom diamond-studded 313 Logo Chain provided by Hutch’s Jewelry.

To be considered in the Pistons Swag Competition, fans must show their “Detroit Swag” by submitting a photo or a 15-second video via Green Fly of how they represent Detroit. Four winners, including the grand-prize winner, will be announced at the Pistons 313 Day game on March 13 vs. Indiana. Second place will win a pair of white Cartier Buffs and third and fourth place will win custom Pistons chains provided by Hutch’s Jewelry.

The contest runs through March 7 at 3:13 p.m. Fans can submit their entries here.

Ernst Benz in Birmingham and Provident Jewelry Join for CARS ON 5TH

Birmingham-based Ernst Benz joined retail partner Provident Jewelry Naples of Feb. 4 to celebrate the 19th annual Cars on 5th Concours with Naples Ferrari Club for North America’s largest Ferrari Club gathering and Naples’s largest annual one-day event, benefitting St. Matthew’s House and its work to provide programs and community services to those in Southwest Florida.

Naples Automotive Experience began with the Jetport VIP Reception kickoff at Naples Airport’s Elite Jets Hangar, featuring exotic cars, jets, music, great food, and an Ernst Benz pop-up exhibiting the Great Circle Collection and limited editions.

The VIP event highlight included an announcement from Tom O’Riordan, President of Ferrari Club North America, Alexis Torres, Manager of Provident Jewelry Naples, and Leonid Khankin, CEO of Ernst Benz, announcing our partnership to expand our Tailor-Made Timepiece program with Ferrari Club of Naples in support of St Matthew’s House as well as an auction including the experience to build a unique Ernst Benz timepiece, with all proceeds donated to the foundation.

The celebration continued on Friday evening when Ernst Benz and Provident Jewelry hosted the most attended and talked about party for the official opening night of Cars on 5th at their showroom. Members of the Ferrari Club of America, local Ferrari enthusiasts, and visitors from around the globe were present for a lively celebration featuring champagne, music, and a preview of an expanded exhibition of the Great Circle Collection, featuring new 2023 novelties and automotive-themed collaborations.

Saturday morning, Cars on 5th Concours officially kicked off, closing down 5th Ave to transform downtown Naples into an automotive exhibition featuring an incredible and unique collection of over 650 Ferraris and vintage and exotic muscle cars. Ernst Benz and Provident Jewelry participated by hosting VIPSs and guests at the store boutique and lounge on 5th Ave for refreshments and light bites. The multi-day event raised over $1,250,000 for St. Matthew’s House.

“We are excited to partner with Ernst Benz and Provident Jewelers for the Naples Automotive Experience and Cars on 5th. Many of our members have been great customers of Ernst Benz, and the addition of their partnership will help us raise even more money for St. Matthew’s House while Ernst Benz provides their unique quality, design, and experience to all of the car owners that show their cars during the show,” said Tom O’Riordan (President of Ferrari Club of America).

Leonid Khankin, CEO of Ernst Benz, said, “We are thrilled that we can be a part of this amazing event and support St. Matthew’s House’s efforts to make a positive effect in the community.” We value our partnership with Provident Jewelry Naples and the Ferrari Club of America Naples and look forward to a long-lasting, mutually beneficial partnership for many years to come.”

Michigan Works! Southeast Relocates Washtenaw American Job Center

Michigan Works! Southeast announced plans to move its Ypsilanti office to 1201 E Ellsworth Road, near Stone School Road, in the Ann Arbor this summer.

The new facility is centrally located within Washtenaw County and will offer more space for career seekers. A bus stop is located directly in front of the building, offering easier access for transit users, among many more infrastructure improvements.

“This was not a decision we made lightly,” explains Shamar Herron, executive director of Michigan Works! Southeast. “Our current location has experienced many maintenance issues and struggles to accommodate the volume of customers we receive each day. We owe it to our community to provide a space that is safe, accessible, and accommodates the needs of our visitors.”

Additionally, Michigan Works! Southeast is working to establish access points in collaboration with faith groups, libraries, and community centers.

“In our current situation, people are coming to us,” Herron says. “This move allows us to enhance the services we provide.”

For more information, visit here.

Gesher Human Services to Offer ‘HarMoney’ Program Starting March 13

Gesher Human Services in Southfield is offering HarMoney, an interactive virtual program that aims to improve the lives of local families struggling with debt by providing financial education, will run from March 13-April 17.

The program focuses on improving financial health through budgeting, credit and money management, and savings advice. This year, Gesher Human Services updated HarMoney, shortening the length of the program from 12 to six weeks.

After successfully completing the program, participants could receive a financial grant of up to $2,500 (compared with up to $1,000 previously) toward a down payment for purchasing a new home or toward credit liabilities. Participants must meet all eligibility and program requirements and claim their grant within six months of the final session. HarMoney 2023 is made possible by a grant from Huntington National Bank.

“We are hoping to enroll struggling metro Detroit low-income families to finally help them get control of their finances, improve their credit scores and, eventually, be able to own their own home,” says Laltsha Cunningham, financial capabilities manager at Gesher Human Services. “We couldn’t be more grateful to Huntington Bank for making this program possible and supporting members of our community who are especially vulnerable to financial stress.”

To learn more about HarMoney or to register for the program, email financialhelp@geshermi.org or call 248-233-4299.