Flavors, flavors everywhere, just waiting to be sampled.
The tasting room of Genesis Kitchen’s new shop in Columbia Falls beckons customers to try any and all of their products—a collection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
Owner and manager David Cohen, 43, and his wife Sheri Lynn, started the specialty shop in Whitefish in 2012 with a commitment to providing fresh, clean oils and vinegars along with a unique experience.
With nearly 50 years of experience in the food industry between them, Cohen and his wife approached their business idea knowing exactly what they wanted to avoid.
“I worked in restaurants and saw the sordid underbelly of what’s used to flavor many dishes,” he said. “But no more.”
Genesis Kitchen’s products contains no preservatives, no added sugar, no artificial coloring and no chemicals.
Their producer, Veronica Foods of California, contracts with growers across the world, from Spain to South Africa, Greece to Australia, ensuring a fresh variety of oils.
“You don’t need extra stuff,” Cohen said. “If it’s made properly, it’ll taste good and serve your body.”
Years of research led to a well-rounded education of all things olive, and the most important thing to know, Cohen said, is their harvest date.
“As soon as the olive is picked, think about a huckleberry, it starts shriveling up. It’s not good in a day or two,” Cohen said.
The same goes for olives. The longer they sit after being picked, he said, the poorer the quality of the oil will be.
Keeping freshness at the forefront, Cohen marks each batch of oil in his shop with its harvest date rather than “sell by” dates.
“I won’t sell old oil,” he said. It doesn’t happen here.”
Though the couple has lived in Columbia Falls for around six years, Cohen said landlords within that community were hesitant to rent space for such a niche business when they first started out, so they set up shop in Whitefish.
After the store took off in Whitefish, customers urged them to expand, and the couple opened a shop in Columbia Falls in March.
Eight varieties of oils line one wall of the new shop, displayed by taste from mild to strong.
The strongest variety comes from Spain and contains a peppery taste that bites the back of the throat as it goes down.
Paired with an 18-year-old dark balsamic vinegar, the flavors merge to create an aromatic combination to complement a gourmet meal.
On the far wall of the shop, a number of fused and infused olive oils offer flavors such as blood orange, wild mushroom and sage, herbs, black truffle and more.
An assortment of balsamic vinegars fill the island in the middle of the room, many boasting their own unique flavor infusions.
Cohen encourages the curious customer to come taste and find their favorite pairings, whether they decide to buy or not.
“I don’t like highbrow stores where you feel pressured into this, that or the other thing,” Cohen said. “We’ve always had a no pressure and no B.S. policy.”
Genesis Kitchen draws customers from across Montana to its two locations in Columbia Falls and Whitefish. The couple recently relocated its Lupfer Avenue shop in Whitefish to the Stumptown Marketplace in Whitefish.
Cohen said a few local restaurants have begun serving his products, including Abruzzo and Tupelo Grille in Whitefish.
Throughout the summer, Cohen takes his tastings to local farmers markets, serving up samples and encouraging people to visit the stores.
Even people who enter Genesis Kitchen not knowing much about oil or vinegar usually leave with a smile on their face and sometimes with a bottle in hand, Cohen said.
“I have an unbelievable success rate of at least getting them to enjoy it,” Cohen said. “I seriously haven’t found better oil or balsamic, and I’ve looked.”
For more information on Genesis Kitchen, visit https://www.genesis-kitchen.com/, call 406-897-2667, or stop in at 270 Nucleus Ave. in Columbia Falls or Stumptown Marketplace at 12 Spokane Ave. in Whitefish.
Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.