By Executive Chef, John Zehnder, CEC, ACE, HGT, AAC
Story as told by Herman Zehnder
Like the title of this article says, in life there are sometimes very specific events that can change the course of the future. For the Zehnder family, it may have happened on September 18, 1926!
At 2 a.m., a category 4 hurricane roared through the Miami area devastating most of South Florida. It effectively ended a frenzied land boom and paralyzed most of Florida plunging the entire area into the Great Depression earlier than almost any other area of the country. It also had an effect back up north in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Times were getting tough and William Zehnder had planned to take a trip to the Miami area the following winter to explore inexpensive farmland opportunities in the Plant City region of South Florida. Grandpa Zehnder and thousands of others were on the look-out for cheap Florida farmland, even though some of it was still swampy and mosquito infested, where they could relocate to start a better life. The hurricane effectively ended their dreams of a better life down south. But…on the flip side, if the hurricane didn’t take place, you might be eating Zehnder’s Strawberries instead of Zehnder’s Famous Chicken Dinners.
Florida and oranges – goes together like salt and pepper. For those who know me, you’re aware of my interest in heirloom recipes. Here’s one of my favorites – a cake my mother always made around the holidays – Orange Kiss Me Cake. The original recipe came from my Aunt “Bowsie” – arguably the best cake baker in the Zehnder family. Aunt “Bowsie” also managed the gift shops here at Zehnder’s Restaurant for many years.