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April 17, 2015

Five for Friday: Amy Zitelman

Influencers Entrepreneurs
Amy Zitelman Sasha Israel/for PhillyVoice

Amy Zitelman, far right, co-founded Northeast Philadelphia-based tahini company Soom Foods with her sisters Jackie, left, and Shelby, middle.

Amy Zitelman is a co-founder of Soom Foods, a Philly-based line of tahini products launched by a trio of "Soom Sisters" (actual sisters) in April 2013. The company began with a forkful of tahini carrot cake made by a family member, when the sisters realized there was something unique about the flavor. After realizing Ethiopian sesame seeds were the key ingredient, they embarked on a mission to procure the high-quality seeds to be skinned, roasted and pressed into tahini in Israel, before being imported to their Philly Good Food Lab space in Northeast Philadelphia for distribution. (To save you the Google search, tahini is like a sesame butter -- thinner than peanut butter, but thicker than olive oil.) 

Today, the women disburse their goods to regional shops like Green Aisle Grocery and Swarthmore Co-op Food Market, as well as take orders from restaurants like Zahav by the bucket-load and from individuals in 11-ounce jar quantities.

Here, Zitelman -- the youngest of the sisters -- talks ambitious dishes, running a family business and what her plans are heading into the weekend.

What Philadelphia foodie inspires you?

Michael Solomonov. We will forever be working to show him our gratitude and make him proud.

What’s the most ambitious recipe you’ve ever attempted?

I will forever be working to perfect my stir-fry. It's a favorite dish of mine and my husband's -- using Soom thai red curry dip has helped. Thanks, Jason (Soom CEO).

What’s it like running a business with your sisters?

As the baby, it's a dream come true. Growing up, looking up to my sisters, I never would have imagined we'd create something like this togetherWe really couldn't be luckier. We each get to focus on what we are passionate about and good at and apply them to Soom Foods together.

What are you listening to on repeat right now?

We totally have boomitis.

What are your plans for the weekend?

You'll see us at: the Run for Clean Air, Namas Day, and EmporiYUM in Baltimore -- topped by celebrating my 26th birthday with an intimate Saturday night at Vedge and fun Sunday night at Sancho Pistola's!