Ethan Snider has been carrying out a love affair with food for nearly a quarter of a century. Raised on Cincinnati’s west side, he worked up through the ranks at Macaroni Grill, eventually becoming an executive chef. It was dream come true.
Until he hated it.
“The corporate stuff just did not appeal to me,” he says. “I was there for less than six months.” He ended up at the Culinary Institute of America
in Hyde Park, N.Y., graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2004. After that, he moved around, working at a tiny Batesville, Ind., restaurant run out of a three-car garage and, later, at a fine-dining restaurant in Boca Grande, Fla.
That worked for a while, but Snider grew homesick. “I liked it a lot, but I started to miss being here; I always wanted to have a name for myself in Cincinnati because this is where I’m from,” he says.
Local farmers’ markets with low overhead and a home-grown touch seemed like a good way to get started. With an eye toward the need for more locally sourced, vegetarian and vegan options, he launched Summuh
(pronounced “SOU-mah”), a specialty hummus shop, first at a farmer’s market in Madeira and, later, in Northside and Hyde Park. Most recently, he joined Findlay Market
, where he plans to weather the winter months.
Snider calls his wares “The Ben & Jerry’s of hummus,” promising “you’ve never had hummus like this.” Three core flavors include a chickpea hummus with lemon and rosemary; a black bean hummus spiced with cumin, coriander and cilantro, topped with pickled red onions; and an organic navy bean and seaweed hummus with sesame chile oil. There are also 12-15 seasonal flavors, including “Squashbuckler,” which features a butternut squash and navy bean base with ancho chili powder, garlic and a spicy black bean relish on top.
Though his hummus is organic and local, Snider says he’s no food evangelist. “I’m not trying to convert anyone to what I believe in or change the world." he says. "I just feel that if I believe in something, other people will start to believe in what I’m doing, too.”
By Robin Donovan