This post is one of a series of profiles of the AllSpice staff. We’re proud of our talented and eclectic crew.
Name: Anna Van Maanen
When did you start working at AllSpice?
How did you come to be at AllSpice?
I was looking for a change of pace, so I applied to several local businesses. Rory hired me for the holiday season, and then afterward, I just never left. Fortunately, no one seemed to really mind.
What do you do at AllSpice?
Post to our social media pages [like our Instagram account], jar, and generally cause trouble.
What is your favorite ingredient at the store?
Chile-Coffee Rub for chicken; Black Currant Balsamic Vinegar for vegetables.
What is your favorite thing to cook or what is your specialty?
You may have deduced from my last name that I’m slightly Dutch. When I was a small child, my grandma taught me how to make traditional Dutch Letters. They aren’t something I make very often (mostly because the whole process takes about three days), but they are always something I’m very proud of.
My specialty is probably my Slow Cooker Chile-Coffee Chicken.
What is the most difficult dish you have ever prepared? Would you make it again?
Those stupid Apple Rose Pastries you see all over Facebook and Pinterest. They were not delicious enough to be worth all the gray hairs they gave me.
When someone else is doing the cooking, what is your favorite dish?
Mama Cathy makes the best slow cooker roast. It’s pretty simple, just a chuck roast, can of stewed tomatoes, and a crock pot. Serve it up with some potatoes and corn; and it straight up tastes like home. It’s the one thing that will always get me to come home for a night, provided I get to take home leftovers.
Do you have a food that is your guilty pleasure, and if so, what is it?
Probably like pizza rolls, tacos, or carrots and peanut butter. It sounds really weird, but you should really try it.
What is your favorite thing to do at the store?
Spontaneous dance party (see below), or talking with customers about products I don’t typically use. It’s always interesting to me to see how differently people can use the same spice.
Everyone has their own little niche that they bring with them to the store, what thing would you say is the most beneficial to our customers?
If I’m being truly honest, the most beneficial thing I have ever done for the store was create Spice Pun Sunday.
Also, my general love of cooking makes it easy for me to make recommendations for any type of cuisine. I make dinner (almost) every night, so I have at least attempted dishes from all over the world. I have a great thyme (PUN!) coming up with my own spin on traditional recipes.
What is your favorite thing or things to do when you are not at AllSpice?
I spend a lot of time reading, playing with my puppy, knitting, and binge-watching Netflix. I also love traveling to new places and checking out local eateries wherever I go. I like checking out local restaurants here in Des Moines, too. I guess you could say, mostly, I like eating.
Do you have another job or do you go to school?
I do occasionally sell some of my knit goods and teach dance classes in my home town.