There are many things that Michael Antonopoulos, owner of TonTon’s Artisan Affections, clearly knows how to do. What is most striking about his story is his ability to reinvent himself. When you meet him he will readily admit that he once weighed in at 300 pounds. But in the next breath he tells the tale of discovering the effect that gluten intolerance had on his health. With new- found information he went on to remake his image and become a fitness trainer helping others find their peak potential, too. Eventually, though, he found himself on a financial edge with food stamps as his main source of “nutrition” and that was the beginning of his journey to launching his gluten-free artisan food business. And another “reinvented” episode in his life.
On the day I visited him at the small certified kitchen he shares with other food entrepreneurs, large steel pressure cookers stood like soldiers on the massive heavy stove, having finished duty that morning of turning out gallons of highly digestible beans for his three signature hand-crafted hummus dips: Original, Spicy Pinto and White Bean Roasted Shallot (my personal favorite!). According to FoodRenegade, “research shows pressure cooking reduces unpleasant acids, increases digestibility, and preserves protein levels”. Every product Michael creates has the health of his customers as the key motivation for maintaining the highest level of quality and flavor.
If you consume this iconic Middle Eastern dip on a regular basis, you may think that hummus is hummus. Contrary to this common belief, though, not all hummus are created equal. With TonTon’s you won’t find a homogenous, low flavor dip like the highly processed commercial products in grocery cases. Tasters of TonTon’s hummus are taken aback at their first spoonful of the chunky, full bean flavor redolent with really fresh ingredients, such as garlic and parsley…as if they’re tasting hummus for the first time.
In just 24 months, TonTon’s has launched three product lines, which now also include Roasted Chickpea Snackers and four flavors of his vegan and gluten-free, and grain-free cookie. Listen to the audio interview at the top of this post to hear Michael tell the story of his Artisan Affections journey… in his own words.
If you want to join the growing ranks of his “real” hummus and gluten-free snack lovers, you can pick some up at Southern Oregon farmer’s markets or one of these locations:
Ashland Food Co-Op
Ashland’s Own Shop N Kart
Medford Food Co-op
Harry and David’s Country Village Store
Berryvale Grocery Mt. Shasta
Sundance Natural Foods, Eugene OR
Takubeh Williams, OR
Ruch Country Store Ruch, OR
Natural Grocer: Medford
Natural Grocer: Gresham
Natural Grocer: Salem
Natural Grocer: Clackamas/Happy Valley
Natural Grocer: Corvallis
Natural Grocer: Vancouver, WA