by Thomas Humphrey and Sara Brenes Akerman
The holidays are a time to reconnect with loved ones — and agonize over the gift exchange. If you’re struggling to come up with something they’ll actually use, remember this: everyone eats and some people drink. With this in mind, we bring you an edible, drinkable gift guide running the gamut from gourmet condiments to artisanal bourbon — all from WashU alum-founded businesses.
The Foundry Bakery
Ray and Leah Yeh (MBA ’11) met at WashU while Leah was pursuing her MBA and Ray was studying molecular genetics. A few years later, they would combine their expertise to launch The Foundry. In their St. Louis lab/bakery, they are constantly at work on new and innovative recipes. Offering Asian-inspired breads, buns, and pastries with unconventional ingredients like seaweed, Goji berry, and smoked Taiwanese longan fruit, The Foundry is a bakery like no other.
Satisfy your sweet cravings with this iconic Taiwanese dessert, a buttery shortbread cookie with a tart, caramelized pineapple filling. Try not to eat them before they’re wrapped!
This unique loaf, buttery and delicate in texture, is great eaten as it is or used for French toast. It’s not a last-minute gift if you want to buy it fresh from the oven, right?
$4.50 / loaf
Halo + Cleaver
Not every meal can be as delicious as the food served up on this list…or can it? Sometimes, all it takes to spice up your leftovers is the right sauce. Founder and food scientist Matt Richard (PMBA ’19), co-owns Halo + Cleaver with fellow WashU grad Rob Garwitz (MBA ’18) and the two have teamed up to deliver sauces that are delicious and healthy. Richard and Garwitz initially met through a mutual friend — who also just happens to be an Olin alum.
For the friend that puts “ketchup on their ketchup,” this sauce ensures they are not putting “sugar on their sugar.” Made with apple puree, pineapple juice, green banana flour, and spices, this sauce is scientifically formulated to excite the taste buds.
Doing good can taste so sweet. Bellafina was born out of alum Brenda Barnicki’s (BS ’86) desire to turn her weekend chocolatier-ing hobby into a way of giving back. 100% of Bellafina’s net profits benefit charities helping children threatened with poverty, disease, abuse, or neglect. A good reason to indulge in a box of truffles — as if you needed one.
Not only do the proceeds go toward a great cause, but Bellafina’s confections are made fresh to order with only natural ingredients and no preservatives or extra sugars. And with flavors like Midnight Mint, Intensely Orange, and Moonshine (!!!), who could resist? And why would one try?
Stumpy’s Spirits was founded by WashU alum Adam Stumpf (PMBA ’14). Located on his family’s farm in Columbia, Illinois, the “grain-to-glass distillery” creates high-quality, small-batch spirits, including bourbon, vodka, gin, and whiskey. Stumpy’s plants, harvests, mills, mashes, ferments, and distills its spirits, ensuring its products remain pure and “Unbroken” from start to finish.
A unique take on a spirit that’s an acquired taste, Stumpy’s proprietary blend of gin botanicals create a smooth balance of juniper and citrus that will appeal to gin novices and aficionados alike.
Division Winemaking Company
Thomas Monroe (MBA ’09) studied at French wineries before co-founding the Oregon-based Division Winemaking Company in 2010. The company grows its grapes in organic and biodynamic vineyards and employs “low-intervention” techniques that imbue its “terroir expressive” wines with the taste of the land from whence they came.
Sure to impress even the most knowledgeable wine snobs, this orange-hued wine is fermented in contact with the grape skins, a process rare for white grape blends like this one.
Sometimes one bottle is not enough. Gifting a membership to this wine club ensures the oenophile in your life won’t run out. The subscriptions include two shipments of six different Division wines at discounted prices.
Michael Haft (BSBA ’09) and Harrison Suarez (AB ’09) founded Compass Coffee after serving together in the Marines. The coffee shop concept came after an enjoyable (and unprofitable) joint foray into e-publishing. With 12 brick-and-mortar locations and an online store chock full of artisanal coffee, this D.C.-based roaster is a one-stop shop for the caffeine addict in your life.
Former WashU roommates and Bardstown co-founders David Mandell (AB ’96, history) and Daniel Linde (AB ’96, economics) have built one of the world’s largest distilleries in the heart of bourbon country—Kentucky. In addition to collaborating with domestic and international brands, they have established their own label, combining only the best-quality spirits for exceptional blended bourbons.
This series of blended bourbons combine Bardstown’s younger spirits with older, barrel-aged varieties. An affordable, yet complex option.
Co-founded by WashU alum Brian Leventhal (BSBA ’05), Brooklyn Winery is a boutique urban winery based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. First conceived as an interactive wine-making experience, they pivoted their business model to focus on their popular restaurant and event venue. The winery still produces its own selection of high-quality, small-batch wines.
Gift an experience with this tasting kit, featuring the winery’s Unoaked Chardonnay, Cuvee Noir, and Zinfandel. Included in the kit are a wine tasting guide and a note-taking sheet to turn a boring night at home into a classy tasting event.
Founded by WashU alum Kara Newmark (JD ’94) Sweetology provides in-person cupcake-decorating experiences in St. Louis, Missouri. The inspiration for the business came from Newmark’s 12th birthday and the Seventeen magazine-themed cake her mom decorated for her. Sweetology has now expanded online, bringing the cupcake decorating experience to home kitchens across the country.
With this set of pre-made desserts and decorating supplies, gift your favorite sweet tooth some sugar, spice, and everything nice — including unicorns! If rainbows are not quite your speed, they have other themes, ranging from outer space to Jurassic Park.
Sophie Bay Biscuits
More than just a treat for your taste buds, these “parchment story” cookies come with a short story or poem to nourish your soul. Based out of Seattle, the company was founded by WashU English-major alum Sophie Handler (AB ’18).
A homemade mixed-berry jam sandwiched between two buttery, orange-flavored biscuits. Mmmm. Recommended pairings include Earl Grey tea and Ada Limon’s Bright Dead Things.
$30 for 12
Xi’an Famous Foods
Founded in 2005, what began as a single food stall in Flushing, NY, has expanded to 14 locations across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. This venture by Washu alum Jason Wang (BSBA ’09) has done much to popularize western Chinese cuisine in the United States — especially after an endorsement from Anthony Bourdain.
Now shipping nationwide, experience the unique western Chinese noodle-stretching method firsthand. The kit includes noodle dough that’s ready to stretch, fresh vegetables, and a stew or sauce base, depending on the kit.
Starting at $41