PARK CITY, Utah — The women who brought EATS, the nutritional advocacy group, to our schools and community are back at it again with a product inspired by their years of travel and love for nourishing, tasty foods. Pantala is a Mediterranean sauce or topping that can shine on its own or elevate a dish.
Entrepreneurs Ann Bloomquist and Susan Odell have common interests beyond healthy eating. Each is a world traveler, preferably by boat. Bloomquist lived on a boat sailing the seas for 11 years with her husband and young son. Odell and her husband lived aboard their own boat for three years sailing globally and unknowingly purchased a boat that Bloomquist owned years prior.
PANTALA (PAN-TA-LUH): Meaning “all wings,” a genus of dragonfly that migrates throughout the world, symbolizing grace, change, and understanding of the deeper meaning of life.
“Pantala is a species of dragonfly that migrates throughout the world,” said Odell. “We love that it travels throughout the world because that’s what both of us have done with our lives.” Dragonflies have special meaning and symbolism in both women’s lives. ‘Dragonfly’ is the name of Bloomquist’s current boat.
While hosting a dinner for friends, Bloomquist served salmon topped with what is now named and branded Pantala.
“One of my girlfriends said, ‘would you just bottle that and send it to me?’ It just took on a life of its own,” said Bloomquist. “Susan ran with it; she took it from a fresh product into a jarred product that tastes fabulous. That’s the story of how we went from a nonprofit to a for-profit company.”
Like most great partners, each brings a skill or perspective that enhances the other. Bloomquist has an MBA, and Odell is a classically trained chef. They founded EATS in 2012 when Bloomquist and her family settled in Park City and enrolled her then-10-year-old in school.
“[My son] went to Park City public school in fifth grade and came home and said, ‘Mom, I really want to eat school lunch. It looks great!’ Because it was all the junk food that I never served him, and he never got to eat,” said Bloomquist. “He thought that was a huge treat. That’s basically how EATS started because I wanted to find out what was up with the school food. Then I met Susan when she was on a panel at the Park City Film Series. We helped raise money to do school gardens, cooking classes, taste tests, and get higher quality food in the schools.”
Although the pair is in the for-profit realm nowadays, they aren’t ditching their philanthropic endeavors. “A portion of our profits will be donated to organizations that support healthy eating and/or the promotion of women. This year our chosen organization is EATS Park City,” Bloomquist said.
“[Pantala is] all based on our experiences, where we’ve been, and what we’ve eaten,” Odell said. “We like to eat and experiment, though we’re trying to create something new. We think a healthy way of interacting and an important part of life is to share food around the table. We’re trying to make it easy for people to eat well.”
The original recipe includes feta, and a vegan feta-less version is available. Currently, Pantala can be found at Copper Moose Farms, The Market, and Mountain Town Olive Oil. The chef and businesswoman have plenty more ideas for fresh, simple flavors.
“One of the key things that we wanted to share with people is that really good food doesn’t have to be complicated,” Bloomquist said.
SIMPLE MEDITERRANEAN ORZO
Serves 4 as a side dish
This dish travels well – bring it to your next potluck or picnic for an exceptionally flavorful pasta salad.
4 cups of water
3/4 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 jar (6.8 oz) Pantala Mediterranean Fusion topping – Vegan
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in the orzo and salt. Boil gently for 10 minutes or until the orzo is just tender. Drain the water and return the orzo to the pan.
Stir in the Pantala Mediterranean topping, Parmesan, basil, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. Taste and add pepper and/or more salt if desired. Serve hot or chilled.