Who among us overachieving home bakers hasn't dreamed of chucking their day job (provided it isn't, uh, baking) to open a bakery?
Lisa Spinner wasn't one of those dreamers. Nine years ago, she was an undercover investigator for the Office of the Cook County State's Attorney who, while on maternity leave, happened to bake some banana bread (using, as always, her grandmother's recipe) for a party for her daughter, Hannah. And a friend happened to really dig the bread and told Spinner she should make a business out of it. And that's what Spinner did.
True story. As told to us Sunday by Spinner's husband and PR guy, Pete, at the National Restaurant Assocation Show at McCormick Place. We almost passed up the Spinners' booth (it's easy to do when the Coca-Colas of the show floor take over five times the square footage). We're glad we didn't.
Hannah Banana Bread is based in Glencoe, but the breads are baked at a North Side facility near Irving Park and Rockwell. The Spinners offer four flavors of banana bread, as well as coffee cake, pumpkin bread and soon, gluten-free banana bread.
When Lisa Spinner first started out, she hawked the bread at small coffee shops in the 'burbs. Today, Hannah Banana products are in Whole Foods and Costcos nationwide. It'll be on QVC this fall. And, the golden ticket -- it made O Magazine's The O List in October.
But watching the Spinners hand out samples Sunday, carefully choosing the prettiest pieces while talking enthusiastically about the bread, it was clear that being in the specialty foods business is all-consuming and no cakewalk, no matter what Oprah says.
The bread's inspiration, by the way, is 8 and is "very conscious of the fact that something is named after her," Lisa Spinner said.
Hannah should be proud. Cakey and fragrant, it's just the sort of thing dreams are built on.